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Senator Lee Rhiannon is outraged that Cecil the Lion was murdered at the hands of Walter Palmer, and does not see how hunters around the world could possibly justify this killing.
Cecil has been murdered. Now Cecil is a lion so many would dispute calling his death at the hands of a rich white man “murder”.
So let’s forget about the semantics and look at the circumstances of what happened to Cecil, a 13-year-old lion living in a national park in Zimbabwe.
A US tourist, Walter Palmer, has been accused of luring this lion out of the Hwange National Park to a location where he shot it with a crossbow. Cecil was skinned and beheaded. Hunters around the world will be attempting to justify this killing. We saw this in Australia when Shooters MP Robert Borsak leapt to the defence of Glenn McGrath who had been on a hunting trip in Africa. Borsak said he would not be “browbeaten” by critics of the McGrath trip and his own safari when he shot an elephant.
In Defense of Animals points out that hunting is often called a “sport,” to disguise a cruel, needless killing spree as a socially acceptable activity. It is violent and cowardly. Hunting kills defenceless animals, many of whom are wounded and die a slow and painful death.
That is what happened to Cecil. He died 40 hours after being shot with a crossbow. He was eventually tracked down and killed with a rifle shot. Cecil’s six cubs are now at risk.
Shooters have told me that hunting is natural as humans survived for much of our early history by killing wild animals.
The world is a very different place now. We know that hunting has contributed to the extinction of animal species all over the world, including our own Tasmanian tiger.
Surely in the 21st century we as one species on this planet should do whatever we can to reduce the pain and suffering of other species.
We need to find a solution. I have heard hunters speak about their love of nature, their joy of camping in wild places. Surely we have enough in common to start a conversation about how we interact with wildlife, how we treat the natural environment.
Would hunters at least consider swapping their gun for a camera? Shooting a photo of these magnificent creatures is probably more challenging than shooting with a crossbow or a rifle.
It would certainly be less disruptive to wild animals and their habitat. Hunted animals don’t just suffer when they are shot. The associated noise and disruption can compromise their feeding habits, breeding patterns and, therefore overall survival.
Let’s learn some lessons from Cecil’s cruel murder at the hands of Walter Palmer. Let’s hunt for respect of our wildlife.