When the #News broke that Cecil the lion had been killed just outside the Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe the world woke up to the past time that is trophy hunting and was appalled. What they had thought of previously as a sport participated in mainly for food, had now become a barbaric activity solely for the purpose of taking home a trophy, a head to hang on the wall.
At the time, many anti and pro-hunting groups stepped forward and spoke on the subject of trophy hunting, both defending their positions in an attempt to sway the public's perception their way. The antis would claim that trophy hunting was nothing more than the massacre of precious animals with little or no contribution to conservation, whilst the pro-hunting fraternity would claim the opposite, listing conservation as their top priority. The anti-hunting crowd would appear to come out on top at this time, but as is usual for stories of this kind, the frenzy would soon die down, Safari Club International claimed within four days, and it would virtually disappear.
Behind the scenes, however, the discussions and campaigns rage on, with as ever, the loudest voice being that of the anti-hunting groups and organizations. One such group, a charity by the name of Lion Aid says, "Lions represent hope and strength, royalty and power. But they are also so very fragile and needing of our protection. We have all failed in the past to protect lions and do what we innovatively could have years ago. Lions are now an endangered species, and we have watched the decline from the sidelines for far too long."
On being an endangered species, Lion Aid would be one of the first organizations to dismiss the myth that trophy hunting is of conservational value and say "Lions are highly sought after as trophies for sport hunters...During the ten years 2003 - 2012, a total of 3,567 lion trophies have been exported from African nations (excluding South Africa) and an additional 897 lion skins." They then go on to say "As such trophies are largely male lions, the effects of this commercial activity has greatly impacted both overall lion numbers and the ability for the remaining lions to reproduce".
On the other side of the fence the pro-hunting groups, the biggest of which is SCI (Safari Club International) are saying very little. This could be due to the fact that in 2006 they (SCI) carried out a survey that revealed only 26% of those asked approved of 'trophy' hunting in comparison to 78% who approved of hunting. It appears the word 'trophy' puts a whole different spin on things.
Also saying very little are the hunters themselves who appear to have remained completely silent on the issue, that is unless you know where to look. Many internet hunting forums exist and here you will find the hunters themselves voicing their opinions on all things hunting. One such forum named Accurate Reloading felt that hunters as a whole were hit with a huge blow when the death of Cecil occurred and so they were. They could no longer hide behind a banner of conservation and they knew it. A poster there sums it up perfectly when he says, "No one is stupid enough to buy that the primary purpose of killing a healthy animal is altruism." An admittance that conservation is NOT a priority in hunting at all, but only a side effect that can be used to spin a good story for the non-hunting public? Read on.
Furthermore, the owner of the website Accurate Reloading and prolific African hunter, Saeed goes on to say, "I am not going to get into the argument that hunting is for conservation - it can be, if managed properly, and the money earned is used for conservation. But, as we all know, most of the money is used for other purposes, which have absolutely nothing to benefit the animals."
Cecil's death it would seem has revealed the truth and straight from the hunter's mouth.