Lover of Animals, we are grieving the death of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. We are concerned about all the other African lions, rhinos, and elephants who are victims of poachers and "trophy" hunters. The numbers of these animals, which used to roam freely and widely through Africa, are dangerously low. We know if we do not stop the killing, these iconic species could become extinct in only a few years.
- A lion named Cecil, long a favorite of tourists in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, was lured out of the park so that he could be killed by an American dentist, Walter Palmer of Bloomington, Minnesota, who had paid $50,000 to kill a lion in a trophy hunt. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow-and-arrow; when the lion did not die, Palmer and his guides tracked him for 40 hours before shooting him dead, and decapitating and skinning him. The group also tried to destroy the tracking collar that had been placed on the lion by a research study. (Palmer has previously killed a leopard in Zimbabwe, a white rhino, an endangered Neveda Bighorn sheep, and more.) A worldwide Internet campaign has been launched to demand that Palmer be arrested for this illegal hunt. His guides, a professional hunter Theo Bronchorst and land owner Trymore Ndlovu, have been arrested for poaching. In the U.S. there is a call to have lions added to the endangered species list, thus prohibiting the import of lion trophies.
- Cecil's death is even more tragic because it is just one of many animals killed in legal organized hunts. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimated in 2009 that trophy-hunting tourists killed some 600 lions each year; that number is higher now. Exports of lion parts to the U.S. account for 64% of the lions killed.
- The situation for African elephants is also dire, reports the Center for Biological Diversity. Every 14 minutes an African elephant is killed as a vicious wave of ivory poaching sweeps the continent. Half of the elephant famiies in Tanzania have been wiped out since 2009. Demand for elephant ivory is high in Asia and also in the United States.
- The African rhinoceros population is critically endangered, down 97.6% since 1960; they have no predators except for humans, reports the African Wildlife Foundation. Rhinos are being killed for their horns, which are sent to Asia for use in traditional medicine, despite the fact that rhino horns are made of keratin, the same material that makes up our hair and nails.
Guardian of Life, help us protect and preserve African animals from poachers and hunters. Show us the way to teach respect for all animals, that they not be killed out of greed, disinformation, and the misguided desire for animal trophies. Give us the courage and the means to fight for justice for Cecil and to strengthen laws protecting lions, rhinos, elephants, and other animals.