Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

David Suzuki: Cecil the Lion’s Killing Shines Spotlight on Barbaric Trophy Hunting

Insights + Opinion

A beloved animal, tagged for tracking by researchers, crosses the invisible boundary between protected and unprotected area and is killed by a hunter who has paid tens of thousands of dollars for the “experience.” That was the fate of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion, whose killing sparked torrents of online and on-air outrage. But it also happens around the world every day, including in my home province of BC.

Many people are familiar with Cecil’s story. Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer and his guides, hunting at night with spotlights, are alleged to have tied a dead animal to their car near Hwange National Park to lure the lion. According to reports, Palmer wounded Cecil with an arrow, then tracked and shot the animal with a rifle 40 hours later. The lion’s body was found on the park’s outskirts, skinned and headless, along with the tracking collar.

Killing animals solely for “sport” or “trophies” is an ongoing and worldwide practice and something Palmer had engaged in many times and in many places, including Canada. He was even convicted of charges related to an illegal bear kill in 2008.

Closer to home, a grizzly that was tagged for research in Banff National Park had the misfortune to cross from Alberta, where grizzly hunting is illegal, into BC, where it isn’t and was legally shot and killed. On the BC coast, people were outraged when a photo surfaced of NHL player Clayton Stoner with a grizzly he shot in the Great Bear Rainforest. Coastal First Nations have banned trophy hunting there, but the government doesn’t recognize the ban. The bear, named Cheeky by local residents, was skinned and had his head and paws cut off, with the rest of the carcass left to rot. Reports have also surfaced that the winner of the Guide Outfitters Association of BC’s highest award in 2015 was convicted of illegal grizzly baiting in 2012.

Even though many grizzly populations are vulnerable and close to 90 percent of British Columbians, including many food hunters, oppose trophy hunting, BC’s government refuses to end the hunt, even in parks and areas where First Nations have banned the practice. Conservationists and other experts have challenged government population estimates, claiming they’re based on guesswork and that the real number is likely less than half the 15,000 on which the government justifies the hunt.

Large carnivores like lions, grizzlies and leopards that are targeted by big-game hunters are extremely vulnerable despite their size and ferocity. They range over large areas, which often puts them in conflict with humans and our infrastructure. Parks and protected areas are too small to provide adequate habitat, so bears often wander into areas where they can be killed by hunters or vehicles. They also reproduce later in life, infrequently and their young often have low survival rates, so populations don't recover quickly when over hunted.

Large carnivores are also keystone species that play a crucial role in the food web by helping to regulate prey populations. BC grizzlies also contribute to rainforest growth by dragging salmon carcasses into the woods, where the fish remains and bear scat provide fertilizer. In BC, trophy hunters have slaughtered more than 12,000 grizzlies over the past three decades. Like Palmer, non-resident hunters here pay large amounts of money to “bag” a grizzly because the species is protected in their home country, such as the U.S., or because populations have dwindled to a handful, as in Western Europe, where the species is now protected.

Killing animals purely for the “thrill” is barbaric and wasteful and can’t be justified on economic or conservation grounds. Studies show more money can be made from people who want to view and photograph them. Research also shows very little money paid by trophy hunters benefits the local economy.

We’re at a critical moment in human history: our population, technology, consumptive demand and global economy are overwhelming the planet’s life-support systems—air, water, soil and other species. We’re in a global eco-crisis that demands a redefinition of our relationship with plants and other animals.

It’s time to end trophy hunting. In BC, the government must listen to citizens and conservationists, respect First Nations laws and customs and end the grizzly hunt.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Killing of Cecil the Lion Prompts Major U.S. Airlines to Ban Trophy Hunting Shipments

Richard Branson: Don’t Turn Shark Encounter Into an Excuse to Kill More Sharks

Another Northern White Rhino Died, Leaving Only 4 Left on Earth

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A bald eagle chick inside a nest in Rutland, Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
A bald eagle nest with eggs has been discovered in Cape Cod for the first time in 115 years, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife), as Newsweek reported.
Read More Show Less
The office of Rover.com sits empty with employees working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 in Seattle, Washington. John Moore / Getty Images

The office may never look the same again. And the investment it will take to protect employees may force many companies to go completely remote. That's after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for how workers can return to the office safely.

Read More Show Less
Frederic Edwin Church's The Icebergs reveal their danger as a crush vessel is in the foreground of an iceberg strewn sea, 1860. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

Scientists and art historians are studying art for signs of climate change and to better understand the ways Western culture's relationship to nature has been altered by it, according to the BBC.

Read More Show Less
Esben Østergaard, co-founder of Lifeline Robotics and Universal Robots, takes a swab in the World's First Automatic Swab Robot, developed with Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at The University of Southern Denmark. The University of Southern Denmark

By Richard Connor

The University of Southern Denmark on Wednesday announced that its researchers have developed the world's first fully automatic robot capable of carrying out throat swabs for COVID-19.

Read More Show Less
Jackson Family Wines in California discovered that a huge amount of carbon pollution was caused by manufacturing wine bottles. Edsel Querini / Getty Images

Before you pour a glass of wine, feel the weight of the bottle in your hand. Would you notice if it were a few ounces lighter? Jackson Family Wines is betting that you won't.

Read More Show Less
The SpaceX crew capsule will launch out of Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX

After a minor setback, a new era in space travel and tourism is set to launch this weekend.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A former Federal Reserve board of governors member on Thursday called on her former colleagues to stop using Covid-19 relief funds to bail out the "dying" fossil fuel industry. Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

A former Federal Reserve board of governors member on Thursday called on her former colleagues to stop using Covid-19 relief funds to bail out the "dying" fossil fuel industry, calling the decision a threat to the planet's climate and a misguided use of taxpayer money.

Read More Show Less