A CRIME AGAINST CREATION: The killing of Cecil, Lion of Hwange

Is it not time to view the deliberate killing of wild creatures as murder?

If the Minneapolis dentist, Dr Walter J Palmer – who allegedly hunted down Cecil, Lion of Hwange, in Zimbabwe – had lured a woman away from the High Street and down a dark alley; then shot her with a crossbow, only to wound her mortally, leaving her to drag herself, bleeding and in extreme pain; with him pursuing her and shooting her dead, beheading and skinning her – he would surely, in his home country at least, receive the death penalty for premeditated murder and dismemberment of a body.

His gruesome deed might be interpreted by some as a crime against humanity for, perhaps, the woman left behind infants; or was the last breeding mate of an endangered, cultural group, in the way that Cecil, Lion of Hwange, was the father of cubs and a critical contributor to a diminishing gene pool.

Dr Walter J Palmer, a materially wealthy man, did indeed commit such a despicable deed. In the guise of legitimate sport, he used bait to lure Cecil, an extraordinary creature of great stature, out of a national park and onto private land. There Palmer shot Cecil, Lion of Hwange, with a crossbow. The wounded, noble beast was found next day and killed after hours of agony. He was beheaded and skinned.

Palmer, a serial-hunter of big game, with the blood of many wild animals on his soul, is safely back home in America after his hunt. There he is issuing predictable bland statements to justify his crime and save his reputation and dental practice. His remorse seems, to me, superficial and insincere.

We who love the earth; we who recognise the rights of wilderness; we champions of the environment, find Dr Walter J Palmer guilty of a Crime against Creation. He cannot be punished, what would punishment achieve? Cecil, Lion of Hwange, can never be brought back whatever Dr Palmer now does or however much remorse he feigns. Due to him, we have one less wild lion on the tableau of life. That it should be the iconic Cecil, Lion of Hwange, who was wild yet had a sensibility towards humans, amplifies that loss.

All we can do is mourn, and teach our children to mourn, the loss of wilderness; teach them that life is sacred; that the killing of wild creatures is not a game; that we have absolutely no mandate to slaughter Creation.

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