The truth behind Cecil the lion

Zimbabwe’s most famous big cat, Cecil the lion, was shot and killed by an American trophy hunter early in July.

Cecil the lion

Cecil the lion

The man who stalked and killed the 13 year old lion is Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota. Waza Blogger Jera reflects on the aftermath of the heinous act.

From the onset, I should issue a disclaimer: I abhor the recreational killing of wild animals, particularly when they are in their natural habitat. I am against all forms of cruelty to animals. Those who facilitate these hunts are one rung higher than pimps on the morality ladder. But the death of the anthropomorphised lion goes beyond just the sick business of trophy hunting.


Walter Palmer lives all the way over there across the Atlantic. Unless he is in possession of a crystal ball, there is no way he knew where or how to track down Cecil. He had help. Palmer paid $50,000 for the opportunity to kill Africa’s most feared killer. Several governmental palms have been greased in order to allow the sport of killing endangered animals to continue.

One only has to look at how wildlife authorities are failing to defeat rhino poaching, despite having sufficient weaponry to withstand an assault from an army battalion. Poaching will not stop until those who secretly lick their grubby palms and count their blood money are named and shamed. Guess who owns the hunting concessions in Zimbabwe?

The 3 locals who poisoned 81 elephants, 5 lions and 2 buffalo in Hwangwe were each given 15 year jail terms. But a Chinese man who attempted to smuggle ivory products out of Zimbabwe only received a $150 fine. China is our only remaining friend. We certainly can’t piss them off. I ask again; who controls poaching in Africa?

Western priorities

In the last 15 years, Western countries have only ever got their knickers in a twist on two occasions over events in Zimbabwe. The first was circa 2000, when President Robert Mugabe evicted whites from their farms.

Second disclaimer; I am not a fan of Mugabe. If I should live long enough to see him depart, I will be on the streets of Harare, celebrating. In the next day’s front page photographs, I will be distinguishable among jubilant citizens by my very large party hat, and a white fountain of champagne, gushing in a foamy jet from a bottle in my hand.

The second time we have seen outrage from Westerners is now, over a lion.

The West is selective in which causes to support. In order for the superpowers to take notice of a humanitarian disaster, the victims must either be pale skinned or, if their hair is nappy, then they should be found floating, belly up and bloated, in an oil well. If you have neither European ancestry nor petroleum deposits, the West will not hashtag your story.

Bigger tragedies

In the 1980s, Mugabe’s infamous Fife Brigade killed over 20,000 civilians. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace say 60,000 women were raped. Gukurahundi massacres occurred over seven years, meaning that 8,571 women were raped annually – call it 23 rapes per day. In this horrifying period, people were killed and tortured in the most barbarically creative methods possible – shot, bayoneted, burnt alive.

For the amusement of Mugabe’s soldiers, boys were ordered to engage in sexual acts with their own sisters. Later, they got to sleep with all their relatives, inside mass graves. Britain knew of these atrocities – Joshua Nkomo sought refuge in England during time. Nobody from 10 Downing Street lifted a finger, even though the former colonial power still had considerable influence.

The reason for Britain’s silence over the bullet-riddled skulls in Matebeleland is that these were neither lions nor British Petroleum’s factories that had been violated. Maggie Thatcher did not want to piss off a Kalashnikov-wielding band of communists while several British businesses operated in Zimbabwe and 4000 white farmers went about unmolested in their khakis and veldt skoens.

What about Africa’s humans?

As we speak, there are several families in Zimbabwe who are homeless, not because the men drunk away the family savings with harlots. No, it is nothing like that. They are homeless because Mugabe demolished their homes, supposedly for building them in the wrong location.

Itai Dzamara is missing. The government is probably behind his abduction. The West did not hashtag that.

Africa’s oppressors have come up with the cleverest manner of shutting up their critics – ‘African solutions for African problems.’

But as my friend and fellow writer, Buhlebenkosi Moyo, says ‘How many times have we heard “African solutions.” But what are they exactly?’ It is so typical of a bully to ask everyone to ‘stay out of it’ while he stands on the throat of a weaker person.

We mourn Cecil

Anybody who has ever had the privilege to stand a few feet away from a lion – 200 kilos of pure muscle – will testify that this is the most majestic creature on the savannah plains. Anyone who has stood within earshot of its glottal roar will tell you how their insides shook, like how it might feel for a field mouse caught inside the rumbling engine of a Massey Ferguson.

The killing of our wildlife deeply concerns me. But human lives matter more.

My pen is capped

Waza is proud to feature as part of its content local bloggers who have a knack for expressing their unique perspectives, independent thoughts and engaging stories. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

Be sure to check out Jera’s other writing on Waza. 

Post published in: Analysis
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