Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Cecil the Lion, Meet Man the Killer


Only a monster could kill such a majestic beautiful animal we share this world with. RIP #CecilTheLion: image via mike @WhiskeySoured, 28 July 2015

The hunter who killed Cecil the Lion doesn't deserve our empathy: Rose George, The Guardian,  29 July 2015

We love a good fight, don’t we? Enter Walter J Palmer, a tanned dentist from Minnesota, with a bow and arrow. Along comes Cecil the lion, the alpha male of his pride, minding his own business being the best-known and most beloved lion in Zimbabwe if not in Africa, as well as the subject of an Oxford University study.  Then Cecil is shot with a bow and arrow, taking 40 hours to die, all because Palmer thought killing a magnificent animal was sporty.

I read the story of Cecil’s killing and my education and intellect deserted me for a minute. I felt only disgust and rage, somewhat inarticulately. I feel no calmness about big-game hunters. I am not persuaded by their justifications, which can be easily punctured with buckshot. Trophy hunting contributes to conservation, they say: when the Dallas Safari Club auctioned the right to kill an endangered Namibian black rhino, it said the $350,000 winning bounty -- they called it a “bid” -- went towards conservation efforts in Namibia. There are only 5,000 black rhinos left.

The population of African lions has been reduced by 50% in the last three decades, says the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and there are now only 32,000. Elephants, leopards, polar bears and giraffes are all hunted for “sport” too. Shooting an endangered species and calling it sustainable is like waving a fan and thinking you’re helping to stop global warming.

Embedded image permalink

Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using ‘influence’ to target female hunters
: image via The Independent @independent, 15 April 2015

In April, after Ricky Gervais tweeted a picture of the blonde, pretty Rebecca Francis lying next to a dead giraffe she had just shot, the internet went ape. Arguably, it went more ape than it would have if she hadn’t been female, and you can find plenty of earnest essays about how women have the right to be big-game hunters without getting an online hounding. I don’t care what gender she was. I care that afterwards, she declared that she had done a good thing. 

The giraffe was elderly, she wrote, and was going to die soon. By shooting him, she had honoured his life by making his body useful to locals: his tail could make jewellery and his bones could make “other things”. “I’m no game biologist,” she wrote, but “there is no question that hunters contribute the most to the welfare of wildlife.”

Follow this argument further and you reach the reasoning that poaching and trafficking do more harm than big-game hunting. True. Wildlife trafficking is worth $7-10bn, and is the fifth most profitable illegal market worldwide. Yet in many countries where poaching is rampant, policing is patchy and punishment often nothing more than a fine. Yes, poaching is more damaging than trophy hunting. Murder is worse than grievous bodily harm, technically, but I’m comfortable strongly objecting to both.

But violently objecting to hunters can be almost as bad as hunting. Most public displays of big-game hunting attract fury and sometimes death threats, as Palmer has been subjected to since his identity was revealed. The fact that African countries such as Namibia and Zimbabwe sell licences to shoot their own big game gets less attention.

Palmer is said to be “quite upset,” but only because he got the wrong lion. He blamed his guides for this, rather than his own bizarre and repellent desire to augment his own self-worth (somewhat damaged, now, by a campaign to shut down his dental practice) by killing another creature. Francis was compelled to release a statement saying that she “couldn’t understand how people who claim to be so loving and caring for animals can turn around and threaten to murder and rape my children.”

Let’s not turn Palmer and Francis into trophies too, repugnant though their actions are. I don’t want to understand them or empathise. I’d rather not attempt to comprehend the inexplicable act that is the murder of animals for fun. But trophy hunting is about something bigger than that: an assumption that all animals are at our service, and ignoring the fact that we are just clever animals too.

Here is a product of my superior animal brain: a plan. If you’re going to pay $50,000 towards conservation efforts by shooting a lion, then give the money and don’t shoot. Preserving life, by killing fewer animals –- now that would be worth a trophy.

Zimbabwe's 'iconic' #CecilTheLIon killed by hunter: image via NewsDay @NewsDayZimbabwe, 29 July 2015

The absence of a predatory instinct in the great ape's genetic makeup was always going to be a problem once the descent from the trees to the forest floor had taken place. Paleolithic man compensated for this lack by displacing patterns of intra-species aggression and redirecting them toward other species. 
Thus was born hunting, a conduct in which the characteristics of an equal are projected upon the prey, which thus becomes an "enemy". Killing your enemy is OK. From animal sacrifice, in turn, is born religion.

This is the thesis of Walter Burkert in his profound study of ancient Greek myth and religion, Homo Necans: the Anthropology of Ancient Greek Sacrificial Ritual and Myth (1992).

Homo Necans means man the killer. Short sentence. Capital offense.

You might say that's putting a fine point on it. Or then again you might say, well, that's just connecting the dots.

can't believe this man counted it as valor to lure #CecilTheLIon out of his protective home and kill him. #Cowardice: image via MC HAMMER @MCHammer, 28 July 2015

#CecilTheLion: The last known photograph: image via the Telegraph @Telegraph, 29 July 2015

American Hunter Killed Cecil, Beloved Lion That Was Lured Out of Its Sanctuary: Katie Rogers, New York Times, 28 July 2015

Cecil, a 13-year-old lion, wandered out of his sanctuary in a national park in Zimbabwe this month, following the scent of a potential snack.

At the other end of Cecil’s search was a lure, placed there by hunters who, conservationists say, wanted their prey to cross into unprotected territory so they could kill him.

Cecil, well known to those who visited the Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was beheaded, according to conservation officials. His corpse was left to rot in the sun.

Zimbabwean officials said that Dr. Walter J. Palmer, an American hunter known for killing big game with a bow and arrow, killed Cecil, and was being sought on poaching charges.

Johnny Rodrigues of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Cecil was lured out of a protected game preserve one night in early July by a hunting party that tied a dead animal to a car.

The first shot, which the authorities say came from Dr. Palmer’s crossbow, was not enough to kill the lion. Cecil was tracked for nearly two days before Dr. Palmer killed him with a gun.

The details of the lion’s death have outraged nature enthusiasts and conservationists around the world who are troubled by wealthy big-game hunters who pay tens of thousands of dollars for licenses to kill protected animals for trophies and sport.

Hunting advocates and some conservationists argue that, if done responsibly, the selling of expensive licenses to big-game hunters can help pay for efforts to protect endangered species. In 2013, the Dallas Safari Club in Texas fought for the right to sell at auction a permit for the hunting of a black rhino in Namibia, setting off a debate over the practice.

The group argued that a limited hunt helped thin the herd of weak rhinos so the population could grow, and that the $350,000 paid in 2014 by a reality show host to hunt the animal would help fund Namibia’s conservation efforts.

In 2009, Dr. Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, paid $45,000 at an auction to help preserve an elk habitat in California.

A big-game hunter who prides himself on his skills in hunting without firearms, Dr. Palmer was profiled in 2009 in The New York Times, when he shot an elk from 75 yards with a compound bow in pursuit of a new bowhunting record. The Telegraph in Britain reported on Tuesday that he paid around $54,000 for the opportunity to hunt a lion.

 #CecilTheLion was killed for 'sport', now @piersmorgan and @rockygervais are calling for action: image via VICE News @vicenews, 28 July 2015

Embedded image permalink

We share your concern about the issue surrounding #CecilTheLion and we're working to gather the facts: image via US Fish and Wildlife @USFWS, 29 July 2015
#CecilTheLion rest in peace beautiful beast. We hope your story changes history for the better: image via HaatiChai @HaatiCha, 28 July 2015


L'Enfant de la Haute Mer said...

So very sad!
Walter J. Palmer, the killer...

TC said...

Cecil perished by the hand of a meat-filled son of man at the age of about 13. The victim was a senior citizen. The golden years. Along come baser metals directed from a rogue agent of the Empire of Universal Money Death.

One supposes that, as a dentist in Minnesota, this wealthy killer has had ample experience of inflicting suffering, thus was perhaps, what's the word -- inured? Used to hurting?

He is a large two-footed primate with evident manhood issues.

Brave hunter he is.

"The charity Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Palmer and [professional hunter Theo] Bronkhorst had gone out at night with a spotlight and tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil into range."

Business man he is.

"Protesters placed animal toys outside Palmer’s River Duff dental practice in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis. The practice was forced to close as protesters staged a recreation of the hunt involving cuddly toys and water pistols."

Sorry, No Root Canals for Rich Lard-Asses Today!

Big honky murderer he is.

"British primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall said she was 'shocked and outraged' at news of Cecil’s killing.

“'Not only is it incomprehensible to me that anyone would want to kill an endangered animal (fewer than 20,000 wild lions in Africa today) but to lure Cecil from the safety of a national park and then to shoot him with a crossbow...? I have no words to express my repugnance,' she said in a statement on her institute’s website."

TC said...

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune offers a few facts, extracted from public record, about this Great White Hunter:


According to a profile on his business website, Palmer is from North Dakota and graduated from the University of Minnesota dental school. He is married with two children.

He practices general and cosmetic dentistry in Bloomington. His office was closed Tuesday and a note on the building referred visitors to a Minneapolis public relations firm.

Palmer pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2008 related to the poaching of a black bear in Wisconsin two years earlier. Palmer and others transported the bear, which was killed 40 miles outside of a legal hunting zone, to a registration station inside the legal area. Palmer was sentenced to one year of probation and fined nearly $3,000.

In the spring of 2003, Palmer was convicted in Otter Tail County in western Minnesota and paid a small fine for fishing without a license, a misdemeanor.

Palmer is listed as a member of the trophy hunting organization Safari Club International. His profile on SCI’s website lists 43 kills, including caribou, moose, deer, buffalo, a polar bear and mountain lion.

State records show Palmer has held hunting and fishing licenses in Minnesota, Florida and Alaska.

In a 2009 article on big-game hunting, the New York Times reported that Palmer killed a near-record sized elk with a bow and arrow in Northern California.

Palmer told the Times that he can hit a playing card from 100 yards with his compound bow and he eschews bringing a firearm on hunting trips as a backup.

Palmer reportedly paid more than $54,000 for the hunting trip to Zimbabwe.

A neighbor described Palmer and his wife as very private.

In 2009, Palmer agreed to a settlement with the Minnesota Board of Dentistry over allegations that he sexually harassed a receptionist. She alleged that Palmer made comments about her breasts, buttocks and genitalia. Without admitting guilt, Palmer settled and paid $127,500 to the woman, who also was his patient. The settlement included references to his bear-hunting conviction and “substandard record keeping.”

L'Enfant de la Haute Mer said...


TC said...

L'Enfant's link --

The killer dentist's office

tpw said...

Let's hope this sickening asshole's life and dental practice are ruined forever. I hope a way can be found to criminally prosecute him for this murderous act.

L'Enfant de la Haute Mer said...


TC said...

In Cecil the Lion fallout, hunters defend Walter Palmer and fear big game bans:

After the Minnesota dentist killed a protected lion, the global outcry has quickly spread – but some hunters argue the practice ‘brings us back to our roots’: Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Mahita Gajanan in New York, The Guardian, Thursday 30 July 2015


For many it would be a horrifying sight, but when Dan Tichenor draws his bow and aims an arrow at an animal in the wild he feels an affinity with humanity’s ancestors and the age-old contest between hunter and hunted.

Humans evolved to be predators and there is no shame in perpetuating that instinct, he said. “It’s not just about observing the natural environment but being part of it. It brings us back to our roots as homo sapiens. This is how we survived through all our history.”

Over the years Tichenor, a leading hunter in California, has killed an impala and warthog in South Africa – and brought their skulls home – and hunted dozens of bears and mountain lions in the United States. “I can’t think of a more natural inclination."

Hunters are divided. Some have distanced themselves from Palmer, saying he broke the rules and ought to be punished. They fear guilt by association.

But Tichenor, a board member of California Houndsmen for Conservation, which represents thousands of hound hunters, defended the pariah in an interview with the Guardian on Wednesday, saying Palmer had a legitimate hunting permit but appeared to have been led astray by the guides.

“He looks more a victim than a conspirator. I can see how it would be possible to think you’re on a legitimate hunt and then get into this mess.” The likelihood of being caught for killing Cecil, who wore a GPS collar, suggested blunder, not intent, he said.

Tichenor, 67, a retired nuclear-weapons scientist with a PhD in electrical engineering, said Palmer had a long history of lawful hunting and it would have been out of character to knowingly, illegally shoot a lion.

Zimbabwean authorities said Cecil’s killers removed the radio collar. Some reports said they tried to disable it.


Whatever facts emerge over Cecil’s killing, Tichenor said the “bandwagon” to condemn Palmer overlooked philosophical and environmental justifications for hunting.

Urbanisation and modernity have blurred our connection with the natural environment and our “natural inclination” to hunt, he said. “People have lost that perspective as we have become disconnected from our roots.”

Tichenor uses hounds to catch prey, not as bait, but he said Palmer was entitled to use bait or any other method as long as it was legal and environmentally sound. “We set our own constraints and have our own preferences.”


Palmer has apologised and said he did not knowingly do anything wrong.

It is not his first time in trouble. He was fined $3,000 and given a year’s probation after pleading guilty over the illegal killing of a black bear 40 miles outside of a kill zone in Wisconsin in 2006.

TC said...

Hey Terry, isn't it a great country we have here in which a retired nuclear-weapons scientist with a PhD in electrical engineering bent on justifying/rationalizing/advocating/promoting/defending the idiotic wanton slaughter by some murican slob with a weapon and money of a creature 1000x more noble than any imagination he could ever have had, there in his dental office, where he fooled around with his dental assistant and had to settle out of court, the way great hunters always do, can share his gimcrack anthropological wisdom with the whole world, right out in broad daylight, and because he's pressed for time not even bother to kill every living thing in sight... ("harvesting" for "conservation" of course...) ...yet...

I mean, we've got a lot to be thankful, for, and it's not even November yet, though, weirdly, it feels like it. As in, ashes. Or no, that's what -- Spring? In Minnesota?

TC said...

I had missed L'Enfant's link.

We appreciate these updates on Nimrod the dentist's ever-changing office decor.

L'Enfant de la Haute Mer said...

Thank you Tom!