So, the internet exploded this week - and with good reason. An American dentist killed a protected lion, leader of his pride and local celebrity in Zimbabwe earlier this week.

Newseek posted this article about it.

Jimmy Kimmel had this to say:

And Hollywood actress Sophia Bush posted this to her Instagram, along with a majestic photo of Cecil:

I couldn't sleep last night thinking about this face. Let's be clear about something. There is not one cool thing about murdering a creature like this. There is not ONE. COOL. THING about sport hunting. I say this as both an animal lover and as a woman who counts time on the shooting range as one of her favorite hobbies. I say this as a human being who is so fucking appalled that a guy thought paying an insane amount of money to shoot this majestic creature in the heart and kill him was a neat way to go on vacation. People. Wake the FUCK UP. Wake up. To the loser who felt like this act would bolster his manhood? Find another way to prove that you could win a big swinging dick competition (which we all already know from your embarrassing cowardice you never could in the first place). To anyone else out there who thinks this shit is cool, do a little research on the devastating effects of poaching, not only on incredible animals but on the people who live in the communities being destroyed. And again, I implore you, wake up. This is not our planet to pillage. These creatures are not here for our enjoyment. Coexistence isn't some lofty ideal. It's the only way we are going to survive. It's the only way we are going to pull ourselves out of the trenches of our most repulsive tendencies. #Cecil #FuckPoaching #ScreamForCecil #BeOutraged
A photo posted by Sophia Bush (@sophiabush) on
Cecil was part of a long-term study carried out by Oxford University. The study group had been watching and getting to know Cecil and his pride for the better part of 12 years. Now that Cecil was killed for sport, the consequences for his pride are ... innumerable and unforeseeable. You can find an interview right here with Dr. Andrew Loveridge from 2012 which gives basic information of the research they were doing with Cecil and various other lions and prides.

Have you watched the Lion King? When Mufasa died, we all saw Scar take over. Simba was run out of town and it wasn't for Timon and Pumba, he'd have died and Nala gave Simba the courage to go back and take back the pride from Scar.

Except this time, Disney isn't going to come to the rescue.

I normally don't get very political on here, but the killing of Cecil really, really pisses me off.

First of all .. who kills a fucking lion?! If you've been paying attention at all over the last 10 years or so, or seen any Discovery Channel documentary in your life ever, you know that lions need to be a protected species and their numbers have been in jeopardy for longer than I've been alive.

Second of all, it's a LION! Why on Earth would you want to kill an animal like that!? How does that conversation even go; how does that idea even come up in your brain?!

"I wanna go on vacation and kill something."
"Why don't you go to Africa and kill a lion?"
"Yeah, lions are pretty cool. I haven't bagged one of those yet."
"Cool bro - and take your bow with you too. It'll show the lion just what a manly man's man you are."
"Aww dude, you're so right bro. I need to look as macho as possible when I take pictures."
"Yeah man, like ... totally pose with it and shit too."
"Oh yeah bro, I totally will. But what am I gonna do for a souvenir though? I can't bring back an entire fucking lion."
"Bro, just take the most impressive part with - take his fucking head!"
"Oh my god, bro. Dude. You just blew my mind!"


What.The Actual. Fuck!?

Surely God, I'm not the only person who thinks that a lion looks way more impressive and awe inspiring in the wild than fucking mounted on a wall somewhere, right?

It's not hunting that I have a problem with. I get it. There are lots of really valid reasons to hunt - population control, basic food and survival .. and there are a whole slew of sociological and economic reasons that we could get in to as well, but for the sake of the Internet let's not get too academic here.

Cecil led his pride, a modern day Mufasa. I don't know how many cubs are in his pride, but once a new alpha male comes in, those cubs are dead. Cecil's brothers will be driven from the pride if it's taken over by a more dominant and stronger male.

This American dentist has just unleashed Pandora's box for the Oxford research team. Not only will this directly affect the group in very profound ways, but it will also no doubt affect conservation efforts as well - but given the outrage that's been posted on-line this week, one can only hope that the Oxford team will see a boost in funding, an increase in awareness, and maybe even harsher penalties for poachers, and increased responsible sport hunting.

The Oxford team that was heading the research for lions in Africa released their response to Cecil's death today. You can find the full article here, but I thought the follow few paragraphs were worth sharing:

"Cecil's apparently illegal death is tragic, but many people have asked us if any good can come of it. First, it is amazing that this episode has heightened awareness of lion conservation worldwide. Supporting conservation is the purpose of our work – conservation involves huge challenges, both in the science and the practice, and we are deeply grateful for the public interest and support. Second, people have asked if they can support our work through donations – the answer is yes, urgently, and we rely entirely on philanthropy. Donations could support the purchase of more satellite tracking collars, support of our field vehicles and field staff, also, very importantly; we train wonderful young Zimbabwean conservationists, bringing some of them to Oxford on scholarships for world-class training in conservation.

The modern world is a hostile place for large carnivores like lions. It will take all our ingenuity and determination to secure their conservation alongside the development of local communities. Conservation solutions depend on the best possible science, for the benefit of wildlife and local people, and the WildCRU's work is dedicated to undertaking that science and working with policy-makers to implement it. We desperately need support – millions of people have been affected by Cecil's death – and by the plight of lions in general - and imagine they are powerless at preventing further lion decline. However, those millions can make an immediate and real difference – if each of them made a pledge of support to the WildCRU this would revolutionise our work for conservation, and hugely improve the long-term outlook for lions both in Zimbabwe and elsewhere. That would be a worth memorial to a lion as magnificent as Cecil, who has provided so much to WildCRU and the world."

They aren't wrong people. We so often think of ourselves, human beings, as being the top predator on the planet, that we're at the top of the food chain. In reality, we are not. We're just ignorant and arrogant enough to think so. There are so many more species of animals out there that are capable of killing human beings without a second glance. Lions, bears, snakes, sharks, spiders ... humans have and will continue to die because of encounters with these animals. And we still think we're the top species on Earth?! Get over yourself. We're just the only species to have a better devleoped brain and we somehow figured out how to make tools. We are not the only species to use language - dolphins and whales use they're own system of language to communicate over great distances. We just don't call it a language because we don't understand it. We are not the only species to hunt - have you familiarized yourself with the definition of a carnivore lately? We are not the only species to live in social groups.

We are the only species to build tall buildings - the taller and bigger it is, the better it must be. We are the only species to pillage the planet of it's finite natural resources operating like they are, in fact, infinite. We are the only species to build roads to get to more places. We are the only species to build a military and spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars in weaponry to blow each other off the face of Earth because neither of us knows how to share very well, or communicate or accept differences.

And we think that somehow THIS - our destructive tendencies and general "fuck you" attitude - makes up the top species on Earth?! Are you kidding me?!

I'm sorry Cecil.
I'm sorry some jackass dentist thought you were more valuable as a trophy.
I'm sorry you suffered.
I'm sorry your gone.
I'm sorry humanity let you down.


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