Saturday, August 1, 2015

Hwange Game Reserve - How could I not write about Cecil ....

My new title for my blog Travelling Light has a multilayered meaning and travelling light certainly also has something to do with how lightly we tread on the earth. It is my personal aim to make my own footprint as light as possible and to do as little harm as possible to my environment and the earth around me and it is in this light that I felt I should reflect a little on the past week's momentous reaction.
This lion is not Cecil but a magnificent specimen who roams the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania
It is indeed strange what galvanises the human being into action. This last week we have seen momentum growing around the barbaric and senseless killing of a lion called Cecil. Before last week very few of us knew who Cecil was and probably most didn’t care. And then we can add that some still do not care. But then along came a crossbow hunter (Walter Palmer) from the great USA who decided that it was great sport to kill a lion in a most inhumane manner. 

The shocking part was that the lion was wounded and the very (un)professional hunter guide decided not to follow it up immediately, because you see, they had lured the lion from a National Park (Hwange in Zimbabwe), by dragging a dead carcass behind a vehicle, then turned a spotlight on the lion so that it couldn’t see a thing in the dark, and then allowed the “hunter” to shoot. With all those odds, he still missed the right spot and so the lion went bounding off. Forty long hours later they ended his misery with a bullet.

This story of extreme pain and suffering has set the world on fire. Every social media platform has been inundated with this story and now its also hit mainstream press with Jimmy Kimmel leading the way in television.
Cubs like these ones photographed at Phinda in South Africa are the next ones who will die because of one mans greed and bloodlust.
The question I have today is why does it take a story of a lion dying to get the armchair conservationists to become so incensed that they have managed to close this man’s business down and send him into hiding.

I want to look at the poaching statistics for a minute here, as I think despite the fact that this hunter paid the princely sum of US$55 000 (converted to the funny money ZAR715000 - more than what most average South Africans or Africans for that matter will see in their lifetimes) this so-called hunt ranks up there with the poaching incidents of the world.

Hot topics on this issue are elephants, rhinos and then one that doesn’t get enough press coverage, the lowly little pangolin.

Shocking statistics have been revealed in the past few months about the decimation of the elephant population of Africa being led by the poachers and hunters in Tanzania. Statistics have it that between 30 000 and 50 000 elephants are being slaughtered each year. To put this into perspective between 1979 and 1989 the elephant population crashed from 1.3 million to 600 000 or as in another report 100 000 elephants killed in 3 years in Tanzania.

Then we move onto the not so official statistics of the rhino poaching crisis in South Africa where the Minister Edna Molewa has decided not to reveal the statistics about current rhino deaths. Last year we lost 1 215 rhinos and there is no reason to think that they have got on top of this yet. However, in a spectacular ostrich-like move the Minister seems to think the problem will go away if she buries it.

And then, let us look at the pangolin debacle that is not getting the news coverage it should. According to the statistics at least 10 000 pangolins are being slaughtered, trafficked and eaten each year.  If you want to follow this then you only have to follow this link to read some more about the precarious existence of the worlds pangolins.  

And lastly, the sizzling hot topic of the moment that has fired up the world. Cecil the Lion and the fortuitous release of the documentary Blood Lions that I did not want to watch but which I now will have to watch, if not just to keep myself updated on this sad and at the same time infuriating state of affairs.  
Cubs photographed in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Cubs of this age are killed by rival males when the pride male is "taken" out. 
These specific issues do not highlight all of the issues and we only have to look at the issues around the Arctic and the polar bear, the seals that are slaughtered for skins and body parts, the dolphins that are murdered each year, the sharks that are being decimated for their fins so that some moron can have some soup and the list goes on. And these atrocities are not limited to the animal kingdom as it has long been known that poaching is fuelling wars that are causing untold human misery.

My question today is for the world. If we can shut down Walter Palmer’s dental practice in a week of intense objection, why aren’t we objecting on a daily basis about the other issues that are even greater than that of Cecil the lion? Why aren’t there daily tweet storms going out and why aren’t we naming and shaming those responsible for these atrocities.

A rather disturbing report that emerged through the media storm is that the hunting fraternity is donating very heavily into keeping their little sport going. To the tune of US$750 000. Here’s a small reference to their work (Safari Club International) However, it would appear that only 3% of the huge amounts of money spent actually reach the communities and people on the ground.

So now that we have been galvanised out of our armchairs and into the streets we need to keep the momentum going and we need to spread not only the word (in insults and comments), we need to take action and make the world sit up and wonder why Cecil the Lion is so important, important enough to make the headlines on mainstream news.

Someone else has the same thinking … read more here…

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