In the past few days, international media outlets like CNN and BBC News as well as social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been awash with the story of 13 year old,Cecil the lion, one of Zimbabwe’s protected animals, killed by Walter James Palmer, an American dentist, at Hwange National park, Zimbabwe, in a trophy hunting sport.
Two Zimbabweans, Professional hunter Theo Bronkhorst and farm owner Honest Ndlovu have appeared in court, accused of luring Cecil out of his protected zone so Palmer could kill him.
Palmer, who said he was not aware Cecil was being studied by the Oxford University or that he was a local favourite, allegedly paid US $50,000 to hunt the lion which he wounded first, using a crossbow, then killing it with a gun 40 hours later.
He apologized to his patients for his act yet this has not stopped some Americans in Minnesota where his surgery is located from protesting, carrying placards bearing messages like “Killer”, leaving stuffed animals by his door step in memory of Cecil and calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe and face the Zimbabwean law.
Personalities from animal rights activists to celebrities in the American showbiz industry have taken to social media to express their (negative) feelings regarding Palmer’s act.
A petition has also been created on the Whitehouse.gov website, calling for the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, to cooperate with Zimbabwean authorities and extradite Palmer.
Below is a video of American television host and comedian, James Christian “Jimmy” Kimmel, getting emotional on his late-night show, while discussing the death of Cecil:
However, contrary to the world’s reaction to the killing of Cecil,some Zimbabweans expressed different sentiments, citing that a whole lot of animals have been killed in cold blood yet they have not received this much coverage, why Cecil then?
Some took to social media, saying that, prior to this incident, they knew nothing about Cecil the lion and were actually surprised that the international media had termed him “the popular lion” or the “local favourite”.
Some are unmoved by the killing of Cecil or poaching in general, saying that they were not benefiting from the tourism or hunting revenues.
Others, local and international, were saying the media was moving away from the real issues and centering on the killing of one animal.
The issues raised included the disappearance of Zimbabwean journalist-political activist, who is believed to have been abducted by state agents; the killing of Palestinian children; the loss of jobs in Zimbabwe and the killing of blacks in America by the police.