Illegal Hunter Killed By Lions
On the night of July 1, 2015, Cecil was lured out of the protected area and wounded with an arrow by Walter Palmer, an American recreational big-game trophy hunter, then tracked and killed with a compound bow the following morning, between 10 and 12 hours later. Cecil was 13 years old when killed. Palmer had purchased a hunting permit and was not charged legally with any crime; authorities in Zimbabwe have said he is still free to visit the country as a tourist, but not as a hunter. Two Zimbabweans (the hunting guide and the owner of the farm where the hunt took place) were briefly arrested but the charges were eventually dismissed by courts.
Illegal hunter killed by lions
Cecil was named after the British businessman, politician and mining magnate Cecil Rhodes, as was the namesake country of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Another lion thought to be Cecil's brother was noticed in Hwange National Park in 2008. During 2009, the two lions encountered an established pride, which resulted in a fight in which Cecil's brother was killed, and both Cecil and the pride leader were seriously wounded; the previous leader was subsequently mercy-killed by park rangers because of the wounds sustained during the fight with Cecil. Cecil retreated to another part of the park where he eventually established his own pride with as many as 22 members. During 2013, Cecil was forced out from the area by two young male lions and into the eastern border of the park. There, he created a coalition with another male lion named Jericho to establish two prides that consisted of Cecil, Jericho, half a dozen females and up to a dozen cubs sired by either Cecil or Jericho.
During June 2015, Walter J. Palmer, an American dentist and recreational game hunter, reportedly paid US$50,000 to a Zimbabwean professional hunter-guide, Theo Bronkhorst, to enable him to kill a lion. In the late afternoon of 1 July, Bronkhorst and wildlife tracker Cornelius Ncube built a hunting blind in Atoinette Farm, a private property owned by Honest Ndlovu just across a railway track from the park. Between 9 pm and 11 pm, Palmer shot from concealment and critically wounded Cecil with an arrow from his compound bow. The hunters tracked the wounded lion and killed him with a second arrow the next morning (about 10 to 12 hours later) at a location less than 250 metres (270 yd) from the initial shot. Cecil's body was then skinned and his head was removed. When the lion's headless skeleton, already scavenged by vultures, was eventually found by park investigators, his tracking collar was also missing and later found dumped kilometers away. The hunt took place outside the protected Hwange National Park, but within the lion's normal home range. Biologist Andrew Loveridge alleged that Palmer's companions (Bronkhorst and Ncube) dragged the carcass of an African elephant killed earlier in the week to roughly 300 metres (330 yd) from the park to bait Cecil out of the protected area.
Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa at the time, declared on 11 August 2015: "What it sounds like from a distance [is] that the hunter did not know that Cecil was so popular, just saw a lion, and killed a lion, and it's Cecil, and Cecil is very well loved and it caused a problem, because everyone wants to go and see Cecil. I think it's just an incident."
On 7 July 2015, law enforcement officers of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority commenced an investigation after receiving information that a lion had been killed illegally on a farm near Hwange National Park. The Authority charged that a lion had been killed illegally on the farm on 1 July 2015.
While one account said Honest Ndlovu, who occupies the land on which Cecil was killed, was charged on 29 July 2015 with allowing an illegal hunt on his land, his attorney said two days later that Ndlovu had not been, with parks officials saying days afterward that he would be charged after first testifying for the state. On 18 August 2015, prosecutors brought an illegal-hunting charge against Ndlovu. The charges against Ndlovu were dismissed.
When one or more new male lions oust or replace a previous male(s) associated with a pride, they often kill any existing young cubs, a form of infanticide. Initially, both the University of Oxford study and Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, indicated that they believed Cecil's six cubs could be killed by the new dominant male in the pride. In a later interview, however, Rodrigues said Jericho had assumed control of the pride but had not killed Cecil's cubs, and that he was also keeping the cubs safe from any rivals.
Five months after the killing of Cecil, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added the Panthera leo leo subspecies of lions, in India and western and central Africa, to the endangered species list. The listings would make it more difficult (though not impossible) for US citizen hunters to legally kill these protected lions. According to Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States and who petitioned for the new listing, Cecil had "changed the atmospherics on the issue of trophy hunting around the world," adding "I think it gave less wiggle room to regulators." Wayne added that he thought the killing of Cecil was "a defining moment" resulting in the new protections. Jeff Flocken, regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said that while the U.S.F.W.S. decision was not the direct result of the death of Cecil, "it would be impossible to ignore the public outcry" and its effect on worldwide opinion. The New York Times, writing about the new regulations, said "the killing of Cecil .. seemed to galvanize public attention."
The "Cecil effect" is a term used by some to express the belief that after the killing of Cecil, there was a reduction in the number of hunters coming to Zimbabwe and a subsequent increase in lion populations in certain areas. Byron du Preez, project leader at the Bubye Valley Conservancy, believes the effect does not exist, saying, "Hunters are not coming because there is a massive recession [in the U.S.]." Those who believe in the effect say hunters are staying away from Zimbabwe due to fear of negative publicity. About a month after Cecil was killed, when international uproar was at its peak, Zimbabwean hunting guide Quinn Swales was killed by a lion on a hunt. Some of his fellow guides speculated that he was afraid of shooting the animal out of fear of the possible backlash due to Cecil. According to guide Steve Taylor, "This guy was a really successful guide, and he died by a lion. And I think that's the Cecil Effect. Guides in Zimbabwe are petrified of having the world turn on them."
African wildlife often roam large distances and frequently move in and out of parks and protected areas. That can make regulation of hunting in specific areas tricky. When a dominant male lion is killed, another male will take his place at the head of the pride. Typically, he will kill any existing cubs, in order to make room for his own offspring. Cecil had an estimated 24 cubs among six lionesses. (Learn more about lions.)
Cecil, a 13-year-old Zimbabwean lion, was killed in early July by American dentist Walter Palmer after the animal was lured out of Hwange National Park, where hunting is illegal, the New York Times reported. Zimbabwean officials say they want to extradite Palmer to face charges, but Palmer claims he was following the lead of professional guides and did not know his actions were illegal, USA Today reported.
"In this case, both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt," according to a joint statement released Monday by Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe.
It appears that the killing of Cecil the lion was illegal, primarily because Cecil was lured out of a protected area, Hwange National Park, and killed. Enforcement officers at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are attempting to locate the U.S. hunter who killed the lion so they can question him.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted in early September to approve a 2020-21 Cougar Management Plan that allows hunters to use electronic distress calls to lure lions for the kill. This was despite overwhelming opposition from the public and from one commissioner who pointed out that electronic calls violate the rules of fair chase. Our staff worked diligently on this issue and our members responded to our action alerts, submitting written and verbal testimony. There was a small win in this decision, when staff removed a proposal to expand lion hunting into October and November in the Glenwood Springs area. That proposal was dropped over concerns that it could result in hunters killing female lions with young dependent cubs.
From 1917-2014 at least 14,066 mountain lions have been reported killed by humans in Colorado. Eighty-four percent of these deaths occurred after mountain lions were classified as Big Game animals in 1965. This figure does not include:
Based on a lion-mortality density model developed by the Mountain Lion Foundation, Colorado averages 0.65 mountain lions reported killed by humans for every 100 square miles of habitat. This equals the eleven western state average of 0.65. Using MLFs mortality ranking system, Colorado ranks 4th (# 1 being the most deadly) amongst the 11 states studied by MLF in reported human-caused mountain lion mortalities.
The number of mountain lions killed for sport hunting has increased steadily over the years, averaging around 300-400 mountain lions per year in the early 2000s up