Cecil. (Photo Credit: David Amyot)
By now, “Cecil the Lion” has become a household name. We’ve all heard the horrific story of his death, which some would argue was nothing but an act of poaching. Others, however, would say that such controlled “hunts” go a long way, in terms of funding, to help secure the stability and survival of the species. The debate is not likely to be settled any time soon.
But while there are things to be learned from both sides of the argument, to me there has always been something particularly sinister about the whole thing, something that seems to have received very little attention in the media.
I pray it isn’t true.
It has been reported that Cecil, a well-known 13-year-old alpha male lion who was collared for tracking as a means for study, was lured from his protected grounds with the remains of a dead animal tied to the back of a vehicle. He was then shot with an arrow and, since the arrow did not kill him, was tracked for 40 hours until he was found and finally killed with a gun. As a trophy, he was beheaded and skinned while the remainder of his carcass were then left where they lay. So much for the theory that, in practice, “all of the remains are used for the locals.”
Still, there was something else, something that didn’t quite add up.
At first I thought it had to do with the term, “hunting,” especially since it appeared to me there was no real hunting involved. In fact, it almost sounds as if Cecil’s killer could have shot him from the front seat of the vehicle used to lure him into a position in which he was an easy target. But where’s the “thrill” in that?
Then it hit me.
The killer had a gun. By his own admission he killed Cecil with a gun after tracking his wounded prey for 40 hours. If the killer was truly after nothing more than a trophy, why not “take” Cecil as quickly and efficiently (and painlessly) as possible—with a gun?
It’s been reported that, while Cecil’s killer was an exceptionally skilled archer, it is difficult to score an immediate kill with an arrow unless the shot is extremely well placed. After all, it’s not nearly as accurate as a high-powered rifle with a scope.
So, why was the first shot with a bow and arrow?
There is a terrible possibility that Cecil’s killer did NOT want the first shot to be lethal. It’s already been established that Cecil was easily lured from his grounds, and we can see in the multitude of available photographs that Cecil was used to seeing people just yards away. In that regard, shooting Cecil with a sure-kill high-powered rifle at relatively close range would have been no more “thrilling” than shooting a caged animal in a zoo. But tracking a wounded animal for 40 hours? Oh yeah, now there’s a real “hunt!”
We have no way of knowing for certain, short of an actual admission, if this was Cecil’s killer’s intention, but it does seem to make sense. If it’s true, this is just more evidence of the barbarism of trophy hunting at its worst.
And no argument for “conservation” can justify such an act.