The TGA’s exposure of the facts surrounding “Cecil’s the Lion’s” demise – drawn from a published scientific report by the Oxford University (UK) team that is responsible for lion research in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park; from published statements by the responsible Zimbabwe government minister; and from my own common sense interpretation of the facts and the furore – created by the anti-hunting animal rights brigade – resulted in a flurry of activity on the TGA’s Facebook pages.
The raw facts are these: Cecil – at age 13 – a few months before his death, had been deposed from his territory and forcibly divorced from his erstwhile family pride. As is normal in these common situations, Cecil was pushed from pillar to post inside the national park – by younger and stronger male lions – and to escape this very real life-threatening harassment, he took refuge on adjacent private land just outside the national park’s open boundary. And there – where there were no dominant male lions to challenge him – for three months prior to him being killed by a hunter, he took up permanent residence. He was then, therefore, NOT a territorial pride-male any more. Nor was he an important component of the lion population inside Hwange National Park. He was, in fact, just the opposite. He had served his purpose over the years and had been discarded by the resident lions because he was, then, surplus to Hwange’s lion population.
He was also not “enticed out of the national park” by a drag-bait as the animal rightists told the world; and he was NOT poached. He was also NOT shot illegally (although it may well be that some of the paperwork was deficient); and his killer – Dr Palmer – was not prosecuted because, as Zimbabwe’s Minister for the Environment explained: “His paperwork was in order.”
Many anti-hunting die-hard detractors, claim that “all this may be so” – but Cecil “deserved to live out his life in peace and quiet”. They stated that, having served his species well, he did not deserve the ignoble fate of being killed – in retirement – by a blood-thirsty human hunter.
NB: To anthropomorphize, like this, is a false human trait that falls apart when humans are forced – often following tragic interactivity events – to realise that animals, actually, behave like animals. It is a flaw in modern human existence, therefore, for uninformed people in our society to create this fools’ paradise – the illusion that there is no difference between mankind and the animal kingdom with which we all share this finite planet. There is, in fact, a huge difference; and we need to understand this reality when we pass judgment on the manner that animals behave
During the “Cecil the Lion” furore I was at pains to explain that a lion’s life is not all a bed of roses. Young lions, at less than two years old – with no experience of living outside the pride, and with practically no experience at killing their own prey – have a hard time surviving when they are ignominiously kicked out of their prides. Many die at this stage because they cannot adjust to their drastically changed circumstances. And the big males, when they are deposed, have an even harder time. Under the circumstances, Cecil was lucky to have held onto his position until age thirteen. I am told that, in Kruger National Park, few male lions ever reach the age of ten.
When dominant pride males are deposed their life expectancy thereafter is very short. Starvation becomes a major cause of death. Being killed by other lions is another good probability. Being physically injured in fights – and being incapacitated in the process – is another possibility. But being ultimately torn to pieces and eaten alive by a pack of hyenas is the worst and most horrible case scenario. Furthermore, when their physical condition declines due to basic malnutrition, once-tolerable diseases that the lions may have carried without a problem all their lives – erupt virulently – and hasten the lion’s death.
The lion in the attached photograph (kindly supplied by Dr. Kevin Robertson) was a once dominant male in Kruger National Park. He soldiered on for some time on his own – after being deposed – but without his pride to support him he was unable to make the grade. And once he started that downward spiral there was no turning back. It was then only a matter of time before he succumbed.
Just look at this lion’s condition and try to imagine what it went through as it became more and more emaciated. Nobody should wish THAT on ANY lion. And, when it was shot (to put it out of its misery) its stomach was found to be full of nothing else but chewed-up porcupine quills.
People who are detached from nature – actually – don’t want to know anything about all these realities. They suffer from the illusion that when they get old, lions can and should be allowed to live out the rest of their lives in peace and tranquillity. THAT ain’t gonna happen! Cecil was old – very old by lion standards – and he was lucky to be hunted and killed when he was still in reasonable shape.
Surely the hunter’s bullet is a better option than “nature’s way of doing things”!
Letters of appreciation to Ron Thomson
Thank you for sharing the story of the continued colonization of our beautiful continent Africa. The looting of African mineral resources has now shifted to undermining the sovereignty of the African wildlife in all respect.
Who of those supper powers have better knowledge than Dr Leatham, indeed he remains a king with no kingdom at all, for how long are we going to be subjected to this kind of bulling that seem to go unabated, how does any one expect to have sustainable conservation without enabling the hunting industry to focus on what they are best at.
Thank you once again for bringing this to the attention of the world through social media. For how long will Africa continue to remain silent .
Africa , speak out for your own survival . Africa you are on your own, stand up and be counted .
We salute the TGA initiatives . One day the Lord shall set as free as the truth shall come to pass
Well done Ron.
This is one of the best explanations of the fate that an old lion has to face.
PS by RT
Blondie Leatham – an old colleague from Rhodesian National Parks days – is the General Manager of the Zimbabwe Bubye Valley Conservancy – renowned as being the best example of sustainable-wildlife-use management in Africa. When America and Europe recently refused to allow the importation of lion hunting trophies into their countries (ostensibly to “save” Africa’s wild lions) Blondie promptly asked America and Europe – AND the Born Free Foundation – if they would like to take 200 live wild lions off his hands because, if he was not going to be allowed to hunt them, he was going to have to cull them.