Hunter of Cecil the lion Dr. Palmer hunted on the Internet

cecil the lion

Cecil the lion running after a vehicle at Hwange National Park. – Photo taken by Thomas Joyce

Cecil the lion was an alpha male lion who leads a pride in a protected sanctuary in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. He is well known for his distinctive black mane and imperious attitude.

The lion got his name after a British mining magnate — Cecil Rhodes.

Cecil the lion was first spotted in 2008 at White Man’s Watering Hole inside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Researchers from Oxford University fitted him with a GPS collar to track his movements and study him as part of the University’s Science research project.

Cecil and the Lioness

Cecil and a lioness in Hwange National Park – Photo taken by Brent Stapelkamp

A few days ago, he was lured out from his sanctuary by Dr. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota US, and his colleague of poachers. It was reported that pieces of meat had been left just outside the boundary of the lion’s territory to bait it out of the no-hunting area where anti-poaching patrols operate.

Cecil the lion smelled the scent and followed the trail outside of the sanctuary, where he was shot by Dr. Palmer with a crossbow. Wounded, the once ferocious predator ran for its life. Apparently, the arrow wasn’t enough to kill Cecil and the lion survived for the next 40 hours until it was finally cornered and killed.

Cecil the Lion

Cecil the Lion – Photographed by Paula French

Dr. Palmer even took a selfie with the dead lion before skinning and beheading it. They also tried to destroy the GPS collar, but failed. The killing of Zimbabwe’s beloved icon had sparked anger in social media that escalated into a full-blown internet outrage. In consequence of the killing, Dr. Palmer’s website was taken down, aside from being rated badly on WOT. His Yelp page was trolled with memes and insults and his rating dropped significantly. His social media pages were also flooded with tons of negative feedback and harassment.

His office in Minneapolis, Minnesota became a memorial site for Cecil. Stuffed animals were placed just outside the door of his dental office. Angry locals also gathered there to protest, forcing the dentist to close it. Some celebrities and high-profile individuals also condemned him for his heartless actions and expressed them openly in social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. There were also several petitions on that were raised against him.

For killing Zimbabwe’s beloved lion, Dr. Walter Palmer became one of the most hated person on the Internet. The hunter turned hunted. Ironically, hunted by its own specie.

cecil the lion

Dr. Walter Palmer (left) with Cecil’s carcass.

Comedian Harry Shearer also sent the dentist a pointed message via Twitter saying “Dear Dr. Walter Palmer: how about we smear you with hyena blood and set you loose in lion country? Sporting?”

Cecil the lion.

Cecil the lion

Lions are now among the list of endangered species. It was predicted that if the senseless killing of these animals don’t stop, lions could be extinct by 2050.

Lions, now including Cecil the lion, were hunted as trophies by Big game hunters. These wealthy people would pay huge amount of money so they could hunt these animals for sport. In the case of Cecil, Dr. Palmer paid about $50,000 so he could just kill it. He would then take its skin and head as parts of a trophy. The Sport has been so popular in circles that many hunters would even film their kills and share them with fellow Big game enthusiasts.

Cecil the lionIn one such mobile phone video, a man uses a Full Metal Jacket arrow in shooting a nearby lion. The animal roars in pain and shock as it writhed and frantically pawed to find the source of what’s causing the agony.

There was also a video of a resting male lion which was suddenly gunned with a hail of bullets by several hunters for no good reason.

Another video showed a lioness walking peacefully, unaware of the perils the nearby hunters are posing. Some lions had been grown in captivity and were petted by humans in lion farms — a reason why some of them show less hostility towards humans. All of a sudden, this lioness was shot. An act which could be seen as betrayal for lions who had developed trust and connection towards humans.

All of these examples of human cruelty were posted in social media. Actions which can be viewed as nothing short of narcissism, if not ego-maniacal.

Cecil the lion was one of Zimbabwe’s rare lions that helps promote its tourism. What Dr. Walter Palmer did could have violated the US Lacey Act, a conservation law made to protect animals from harm. The law is tied to a UN treaty for the protection of animals and governs the actions of Americans who violate the laws of foreign governments. Because of this, there is a possibility that Dr. Palmer could be extradited to Zimbabwe to face his trial.

The dentist hid after it was hunted by netizens, some locals, and the law, but it had been recently reported that he had contacted authorities on Thursday (July 30). Dr. Palmer also had a previous issue with the law in his own native country, wherein he illegally killed a black bear in Wisconsin several years ago. He apparently killed the animal 40 miles outside the permitted zone and then lied about it.

Lion Farming

Some lion cubs were taken from their mothers at birth and raised in lion farms where they were bottle-fed by humans, petted, and made to serve as an attraction. When they grew up, they are sold and released into fenced areas where they can be shot for a price.

There are hunters who openly advertise their services online and have agents throughout the US, Europe, and the Middle East promoting the chance to kill a lion in its habitat.

These operators would often lay bait around watering holes or employ locals to chase wild animals into where they can be legally hunted. These operators actually make big money out of this business since there are high-profile people who are willing to pay big for the opportunity to kill lions and other animals for fun and for the sake of ego.

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