Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

The King Is Dead – Trophy Hunter Kills Cecil

27 July 2015

Categories: Big Cats Campaign News, Wildlife Trade News

(C)A.J. Loveridge

News from Zimbabwe that a trophy hunter has killed one of African’s most famous lions – a magnificent male called Cecil – just outside Hwange National Park – has been greeted with dismay by wildlife campaigners and conservationists alike. 

Will Travers OBE, President of Born Free Foundation, commented: “This story is so shocking on so many levels.  Cecil was of huge value to Zimbabwe’s economy and their Wildlife Service.  Now he is gone.  According to information I have received, the carcass  of a freshly killed animal – a ‘bait’ – was used to lure Cecil out of the protected area where he was shot with a bow and arrow. 

The use of a bow and arrow could imply either that the hunter wished to do this on the quiet – no gunshot – or that he was able to get up close enough to use a bow and arrow. Cecil was not afraid of people and so relatively approachable. 

Will went on to say: “Cecil was also collared and was part of a long-running Oxford University Research Project.  Tragically, 24 of the 62 lions that have been tagged by the project have been shot by sport-hunters and one can only imagine the negative impact that the sport hunting of lions is having on the population of Zimbabwe.”

According to Luis Munoz of Chelui4lions, between 2007 and 2012, Spain, the country that the killer allegedly originated from, imported 450 lion heads compared to the 100 that were imported into Germany.  Spain leads the European league of shame in this regard. Spain’s unenviable record concerning trophy hunting includes the resignation of King Juan Carlos as President of WWF Spain following revelations of his elephant trophy hunting activities.

Questions are being asked as to whether the authorities may have had a hand in this.  Certainly someone would have had to sign the export documentation for Cecil’s head but it would appear that the authorities in Zimbabwe are frankly outraged and are trying to track down Cecil’s killer.

Will Travers concluded: “The number of lions in Africa may now be as few as 25,000 – down by 50% in the last thirty years .  It is entirely possible that they will disappear completely from a significant number of their current range States within the next five years and even where significant numbers still persist, the pressure on lions from habitat loss, persecution and, indeed, trophy hunting, may be too much to withstand.  Cecil’s tragic and meaningless destruction may just be the catalyst we need to take action to end lion trophy hunting and, instead, devote all our energies to conserving a species which, perhaps more than any other, represents the wild soul of Africa."


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