With recent news of iconic African animals being killed, in this case Cecil the Lion, it is important for society to realize that false information is recklessly creating the perception that hunters are to blame. In today’s modern world, it can be very unfortunate that perception can be far more formidable then reality. This effect can be attributed purely to one’s emotions. Rational people generally research facts and base their views according to those facts, while emotionally minded people react differently to information and often form views based on others opinions and perceptions.
As with anything in life, there are those who participate in society in a legal manner which benefits all involved. At the same time there are those who act illegally, which is detrimental to any cause and often perceived by many as a representation of all persons who partake in similar acts, regardless of legality.
In the global hunting community, those who act illegally are known as poachers. By definition, a poacher is someone who partakes in the illegal practice of trespassing on another’s property to hunt or steal game without permission or any encroachment on another’s property, rights, ideas, or the like. The people who participated in the killing of the iconic Cecil the Lion were poachers, not hunters. Referring to these people as “hunters” is an uneducated perception of what a “hunter” actually is.
Hunter, by definition, is listed as a person who hunts game or other wild animals for food or in sport. With the amount of known science and technology readily available today hunters are one step beyond that definition in that they are participating members of a sustainable ecosystem who act as stewards of our wildlife by re-establishing, maintaining and preserving viable wildlife populations. Hunters take part in active conservation and preservation of wildlife in its truest form.
While hunting lions is not an illegal activity, in the case of Cecil the Lion, the hunt was conducted illegally and Cecil’s death was wrongful. Lion quotas are very strict and the proper permit was not obtained by the landowner and/or the Professional Hunter. Although the man who shot Cecil claims he put his trust in the Professional Hunter, it is the responsibility of each individual to ensure they are abiding by conservation laws. Hunters would not unethically bait an iconic animal such as Cecil away from a national preserve and treat an animal with such disrespect as to take only the head and pelt while leaving the rest to rot. Hunters have the utmost respect for the game they so passionately pursue.
No legal and professional hunting organization condones the unlawful harvest of any species and this case is no different. The stigma that poachers like Walter Palmer, the American dentist from Minnesota, as well as Zimbabweans Honest Trymore Ndlovu and Theo Bronchorst have brought to the hunting community is something that most will perceive as an act of hunting which it is absolutely not. The perception that Cecil was killed by hunters is one that has penetrated deep into society at a rapid pace.
There is hope that society will realize that Cecil was killed by poachers and not hunters as the remaining facts are revealed in days to come following investigations by Zimbabwean authorities. The difference is clear. From a hunters perspective this is the upmost disrespect for the conservation efforts and sustainable system we strive to achieve. A poacher in no friend to the hunter, but rather an enemy.