It’s time to ban hunting trophies once and for all

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July 29, 2015 by Nash Riggins

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Most of us would like to think big game hunting is nothing but some sort of Victorian relic – a humiliatingly cruel chapter in humanity’s past that we’d prefer to sweep under the rug. But the truth is, superrich sociopaths have ensured the systematic slaughter of endangered species is still very much alive and well.

A hundred years ago, there were 200,000 lions roaming the wilds of Africa. Today, there could be as little as 15,000. Thousands more are bred in captivity specifically for cold-hearted tourists to shoot in the back. Make no mistake: if we keep going like this, lions will be extinct by 2050. Our children will learn about them in the same way we learned about the dodo. We can’t afford to let that happen, and so any attempt to bring down an African lion should be pegged as a despicable crime against humanity.

That’s exactly why a little known dentist from Minnesota is now receiving merciless messages of hate from across the globe – and it’s why we’ve got to do our utmost to ensure he’s prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

On July 6, Walter Palmer bribed two African tour guides some £35,000 to lure Zimbabwe’s most beloved big cat out of the nature reserve designed to protect him. Thirteen-year-old Cecil exemplified the raw power and sheer majesty for which lions are revered. He was known for his striking black mane, and was a beacon for international efforts to safeguard the future of his species.

After spotting Cecil, Palmer fired an arrow directly into the animal’s flank. That’s where the fun began. In the forty hours that followed, Palmer and his tour guides ‘hunted’ Zimbabwe’s top living tourist attraction, watching him bleed out as the increasingly frail giant wandered across the savannah to his death. After Palmer got bored, he shot, skinned and beheaded Cecil – but not before cutting off the tracking collar that scientists had placed around his neck.

Palmer has since argued he thought the hunt was perfectly legal, and is feigning remorse for torturing and beheading one of the last remnants of a dwindling species. He should be feigning remorse from behind bars. The two men Palmer bribed to help realise his sick and twisted fantasy are now facing up to 15 years in prison – and authorities say the American dentist could earn up to five years imprisonment himself. Seeing as the US has an extradition treaty with Zimbabwe, American officials owe it to humanity to send Palmer packing today. An example must be made.

This is a guy who’s killed leopards, white rhinos and lions. He even earned himself a felony charge in 2006 for illegally shooting down a black bear in the US. Why on earth this mass murdering, animal-hating sociopath was even allowed within 10,000 feet of a nature reserve is a complete and utter mystery. These sort of crimes should be grounds to send guys like Walter Palmer packing the moment they step off of an airplane. Whatever punishment he receives will be too lenient.

Unfortunately, Walter Palmer is only one, tiny fragment of a huge, international problem. The truth is, there are loads of wannabe big game hunters out there – and they’re not all rich American gun nuts, either. Every year, over 200 lions are killed, skinned and sent to Europe in body bags.

It’s time we put a stop to it. By banning these sort of hunting trophies, the EU can take one small step towards eradicating the holiday hunting industry. We can take a step towards safeguarding a magnificent species that we’ve all but driven to extinction. But that’s not going to happen unless people demand it.

So for once, can we not simply seethe about a gross miscarriage of justice for two days and then move on? Get up and phone your MEP. Write to Downing Street. Do something. Do anything. Because for all we know, another Cecil is bleeding out alongside a rich banker even as we speak – and before long, our kids won’t have the foggiest what a real lion even looks like.

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