Taking Action After the Killing of Cecil’s Son by Trophy Hunter
Many are now aware that Xanda, the son of Cecil the lion, was shot and killed by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. Although some of us have been left feeling powerless, there are steps we can take to contribute towards the prevention of these dreadful events, and it starts with reviewing the facts.
Tragedy Repeats Itself
Xanda's death fell two years after of the inhumane killing of his father, who was lured outside the safety of a national park by trophy hunters. Cecil was shot with an arrow and suffered for several hours before a final blow, then skinned and beheaded.
Like his father, Xanda was living within Hwange National Park and was fitted with a tracking collar by Oxford University, as part of their nearly two-decade long big cat conservation research program, WildCru. He was a pride male of a pride of three females and seven cubs, and his death has left the fate of that pride unknown.
Paying For Death Trophies and Awards
Dr. Loveridge, a Senior Research Fellow of Oxford’s Zoology Dept., shared that Xanda was a 'gorgeous Kalahari lion,' and was 'a very, very lovely animal.' He also stated, "Personally, I think it is sad that anyone wants to shoot a lion, but there are people who will pay money to do that."
Elitist trophy hunters pay from tens to hundreds of thousands for guided kills resulting in the heads of magnificent animals mounted on walls. Organizations like the Safari Club International(SCI) award such hunts, as with their 'African Big Five,' requiring the kill of African animals; a lion, elephant, rhino, leopard, and Cape buffalo. Most species of which range from vulnerable to critically endangered by the ICUN.
It was Richard Cook who was paid to guide the trophy hunt of Xanda. The lion was six years old and was killed 2km outside the park border, where he had reportedly been roaming, which is within stipulated regulations.
Searching For Ethics In Trophy Hunting
The Telegraph reported that when referring to Richard Cook's actions, Dr. Loveridge stated, “He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened."
However, the thought of 'ethical' and 'trophy hunter' in the same context is difficult for many to fathom. Especially considering these animals are facing extinction, with trophy hunting being one of the major causes. After declining by nearly 50% in the past two decades, as few as 20,000 lions remain today. According to reports, American trophy hunters imported more than 1.2 million animals between 2005 and 2014, with 5,600 African lions among them.
Although the ZPHGA has claimed otherwise, WildCru stated that Richard Cook was specifically advised that Xanda was a 'pride male associated with a pride and dependent cubs and that hunting him would be detrimental to the population.'
Trophy Hunting Is Not Efficient Conservation
According to trophy hunters, their business generates millions, funding local communities and contributing to wildlife and habitat conservation. However, a study on the economic benefit of lion hunting in Africa, found those claims to be 'misguided' and when in the context of national economic growth, 'completely implausible.'
The study documents that 'overall trophy hunting accounts for less than 2% of tourism revenues.' The majority of nature tourism is related to non-hunting activity, and 'trophy hunting revenues fail to reach rural communities,' which ultimately lands in the hands of commercial outfitters, government agencies, and stakeholders of the trophy hunting industry.
Facts of that research also revealed, that even pro-hunting studies confirmed reduced lion hunting would have nearly no impact on communities with financially viable hunting land. However, it would increase the chance of lion's survival in the wild and the species is desperately in need of that chance.
WildCru is repeating a previous call for a no-hunting zone of 5km around the perimeter of Hwange National Park. However, they face strong pushback from hunters, and even if the researchers are victorious, it would only solve a fraction of the problem, which stems from the legality of trophy hunting.The Future Remains Unknown The federal protection of the Endangered Species Act(ESA) currently prohibits the importation of African lion trophies in the US. However, with the weight of stakeholders like the SCI and recent changes, such as reduced protections within Alaskan Wildlife Refugees, the delisting of Yellowstone grizzlies from the ESA, and proposed budget cuts to the Department of Interior, a lift of that ban is not improbable. With several species rapidly dwindling, actions must be taken now to ensure the most efficient methods are implemented to conserve our world's most majestic and treasured animals, and poorly managed trophy hunting is certainly not one of them.
1. Urge UPS to Ban Transport of Hunting Trophies
Example: "Thank you for your ivory and shark fin transportation ban. However, with many other vulnerable and endangered species facing extinction, I urge your consistency regarding the conservation of our world's most magnificent animals by banning the transport of all wild animal trophies."
2. Ask South African Airways to Reinstate Hunting Trophy Ban
SAA banned the transport of wild animal trophies in April 2015, but then lifted the ban in July 2015.
• Submit email here
• Post a comment on current thread on the SAA Facebook Page* here
Example: "I urge you to follow through with your commitment to the conservation of our world's most treasured species by reinstating your ban of all wild animal trophy transports."
Reviews are unavailable on the UPS and SAA Facebook pages, and access to posts from visitors are not guaranteed. However, you may add a comment to a recent thread that UPS or SAA has posted.
The goal is to spread awareness and communicate to UPS and SAA that the protection of wildlife is important to us. When posting on social media, be prepared for comments from those in opposition to your perspective.
Always remember to communicate with kindness and clarity; otherwise we risk being counterproductive.
3. Tell Congress to vote NO on HR 2603
HR 2603, deceptively called the SAVES Act, will exclude non-U.S. species from basic protections of the Endangered Species Act. This includes vulnerable to critically endangered species such as the African elephant, Bonobo (pygmy chimpanzee) and the Black Rhino. HR 2603 will also make it harder to catch and punish wildlife criminals, and weaken the rules for interstate commerce of ivory.
• Submit email here
4. Ask your Senators, Representatives, and the White House to stop budget cuts that endanger African wildlife
• Submit email here
5. Urge the Zimbabwean government not to permit the export of Xanda as a trophy
• Submit email here
6. Spread Awareness
Share this blog post, petitions, and facts about trophy hunting with your family and friends
Cover Image: Fish Eagle Safaris