Requiescat in Pace Cecil the Lion

So here’s the deal: Walter J. Palmer, a yearly big game hunter from Minnesota, went to Zimbabwe to kill his second lion. (He had killed one before, which is the picture being widely circulated mislabeled as he, his guide and Cecil.) He paid $55,000 for the privilege. Since there were no lions to be found on the private game reserve, the guides tied a dead animal to a truck and lured Cecil, a famous and GPS tagged lion under study by an Oxford University group, out of the neighboring national park. This makes it twice over illegal as you can’t kill animals from national parks and you can’t kill tagged/collared animals that are part of a scientific study.

Cecil-and-Jericho_3390407b

Last picture of Cecil (seated). Jericho, the leader of a partner-pride, is standing behind him.

Update: Apparently, it is also illegal to hunt at night.

Palmer bungled the initial shot with his bow and arrow, wounding Cecil but not killing him. 40 hours later (40 agonizing hours later for Cecil) they tracked Cecil down and killed him with a rifle. They removed Cecil’s tracking collar tried to ditch it (some accounts say they tried to destroy it, but either way it was removed). Then they skinned Cecil and cut off his head as trophies. Then Palmer flew home, free as a bird.

The lead hunting guide turned himself in. It is unclear whether this was before or after Cecil’s body was found by the authorities. The owner of the game reserve was also arrested. Both face charges.

Palmer made a statement from his new PR firm saying: “I hired several professional guides, and they secured all proper permits. To my knowledge, everything about this trip was legal and properly handled.

I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.

I have not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or in the U.S. about this situation, but will assist them in any inquiries they may have.

Again, I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion,”

There are three big problems with his statement. First, even *If* Palmer did not know what his guides were doing or that it was illegal to hunt at night (as he was trophy hunter with decades of experience including several trips to Africa to hunt before, and as the guides obviously had done this before, I find his claim of ignorance implausible) and even *if* Palmer and the guides somehow missed Cecil’s collar when they lured him out of the park (which is possible as this took place at night) and the initial shot was taken, when they caught up the Cecil 40 hours later and killed him there is absolutely *no way* Palmer did not see the collar and did not approve and/or take part in removing and trying to get rid of it. At that point, there is no denying that he knew what he had done was illegal.

Now the guy last year who killed the tagged wolf immediately turned himself in. But Palmer just flew home, figuring “What happens in Zimbabwe, stays in Zimbabwe” and that as an American, Zimbabwe justice would never touch him.

The second problem is that in this: The “…activity (he) loved and practices responsibly and legally…” He was convicted of poaching in 2008. Two years prior he killed a Black Bear outside the legal hunting area and then tried to pass it off as having been killed within the area.

Sound familiar?

The third problem is he claimed that no one from the Zimbabwe government has contacted him. The Zimbabwe government has stated they are searching for him to discuss the incident. Maybe Palmer should contact the Zimbabwe embassy rather than hiring a PR firm.

I was raised in a backwoods of Maine in a hunting culture, and I understand hunting for sustenance. During the recession of the late 1970’s, Maine was hit hard and a lot of families turned to deer, rabbit and partridge (and occasionally moose) hunting to supplement their diet.

But trophy hunting is simply vile. It’s the activity of the small-penised or penis-envying to shore up their flaccid ego by taking part in a deadly game that is laughably one sided. Sometimes even worse than that: Some game reserves raise their animals to be human friendly. So hunters can walk right up to them and shoot them. It’s disgusting, appalling, horrifying and tragic.

cecil-and-lioness-brent-stapelkamp

Cecil and one of his females

And I have discussed the Fallacies of Big Game hunting before.

But on private lands with the correct permits it’s legal. If someone pays $35k to $60K to bag a lion or a rhino or elephant, the game reserve feels they have to give them their money’s worth or they will have to give refunds and lose business. The questions this incident raises are: How many times have the guides of this reserve lured animals out of the park to satisfy their customers? How many hunts are being held at night? How many other private reserves near National Parks/protected areas do the same/similar things? How many “legal” trophy hunters are actually poaching?

But what Palmer and his party did was absolutely illegal. It was not hunting, it was poaching and he deserves to be punished for his repeated crime. Now, people have put his practice and his personal information online. That’s wrong. That’s doxxing and his family does not deserve to suffer for his crimes.

What needs to happen is Palmer needs to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face the authorities. (And we do have an extradition treaty with them.) The maximum sentence for poaching is five years in prison (and I am sure their prisons are quite different from the minimum security resorts here). I hope he not only receives such a sentence, but that he has to pay a $100,000 (or more) fine to go directly to Zimbabwe’s National Parks system.

The White House “We the People” site has three petitions going to demand Palmer’s Extradition:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petitions

Please sign one. Please sign them all. If one of the petitions reaches 100,000 signatures in 30 days, the White House has to address it.

(Update: One of the petitions passed the 100,000 signature threshold in 24 hours. By the terms of use of the website, this means the White House *has* to respond to it.)

It can’t replace what Palmer took. But he can help protect National Parks more and discourage him and other game reserves and big game hunters from pulling the same shenanigans. If trophy hunters realize they might have to spend time in a Zimbabwe or Namibian or South African prison for their illegal actions, I think that would put many of them on the straight and narrow and protect the animals in African conservation parks.

As to why this is so important, the population of lions in Africa is “collapsing” due to poaching. It’s bad enough when the authorities have to fight off local poachers, but Americans and Europeans who come to “legally” hunt and then turn out to be poachers simply add to the problem and do not deserve to be let off from crimes others are punished for.

In the meantime R.I.P. Cecil, you magnificent being.

Cecil

You deserved so much better.

Dear Lord and Dear Lady, please take the soul of Cecil deep in your warm embrace. Let him sleep there safe and happy,  until he is reborn into the next life in joy.

Another thing we can do, just as important, is to support conservation efforts in Cecil’s memory.

The Wild CRU is the group who was monitoring Cecil and other lions in the park. They could use your help.

The Wildlife Conservation Society is also an excellent charity for international conservation efforts.

And within the United States, the Defenders of Wildlife do great work.

….Update….

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The Best News

California Blue Whale Population Bounces Back from Whaling

I have never seen a Blue Whale in person, but I have seen Humpbacks, Fins and Minkes. You can see the scale comparisons, see them on TV and movie screens, but until you see a whale in person, you can never comprehend the sheer size, astounding grace and awesome presence of these beings.

This is only one population of Blue Whales, but it is such a relief to hear of a success story. The situation of the Blues were especially troubling  as they do not travel in pods. People worried that the lower numbers meant they would have a harder time finding mates and would slowly die out. I’m so glad to see that they are coming back.

Speaking of Coal

I mentioned coal mining in my previous post because a while back I saw an article on a West Virginia town that was deliberately diversifying their energy production potential. (I can’t find it now.) As well as being sick of the environmental disasters, they realized they are dependent on a finite resource and needed to diversify not only energy production, but jobs to limit the economic impact on the town if/when the local mines closed.

But sentiment and current legislation make it an uphill battle.

Son of a BITCH!

Ted Cruz Launches Senate Fight To Auction Off America’s Public Lands

Federal lands make up one-fifth of the nation’s landmass and over 50 percent of the land Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. Under Cruz’s proposal, these states, which are home to some of the country’s most beloved national parks, forests, wildlife areas and iconic natural resources, would be forced to either pass the costs of managing these lands along to state taxpayers or, more likely, give them away or sell them off for mining, drilling, and logging.

Cruz’s amendment is the latest in a radical effort by right-wing lawmakers to give control of America’s public lands to states or private industry. The movement garnered national attention earlier this year with the help of Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who spurred a standoff with federal officials after refusing to pay more than $1 million in grazing fees owed to taxpayers. Bundy notoriously refuses to acknowledge federal authority, telling CNN in April that “I’ll be damned if this is the property of the United States. They have no business here.”

The amendment aligns Cruz with the other 15 incumbent members of Congress who agree with Bundy that America’s public lands should be seized by the states or sold off for drilling, mining, or logging. Highlighted in a new series from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, these “Bundy’s Buddies” support the extremely costly and unconstitutional proposals to seize and sell off America’s public lands, which are also far from mainstream views of Americans in the West.

Although Cruz attached the amendment to a bill intended to benefit sportsmen by expanding hunting, fishing and shooting opportunities on public lands, sportsmen do not support efforts to seize or sell off federal lands. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), who have voiced support for the sportsmen’s bill on its own, have condemned land seizure efforts as “a radical cry to wrest our national forests and prairies away from public ownership.”

Steve Kandell, Director of Trout Unlimited’s Sportsmen’s Conservation Project, also made it clear that fishermen and sportsmen don’t support land sell-off proposals when praising the recent introduction of a bill from Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), also a cosponsor of the Sportsmen’s Act. In a press release, Kandell said that “public lands shape the American identity, support local economies and perpetuate our sporting heritage. They should not be sold.”

When environmentalists and hunters both hate it, you know it must be bad.

Remember What I Was Saying…

..about humans being idiotic self-involved bastards about the environment?

Satao, one of Africa’s largest elephants, killed by poachers for ivory tusks weighing more than 45 kg

Goddamn mother fucking fucktard asshole cunthead pricks!*

Story of Satao from a nature photgrapher’s blog.

My solution? Turns these parks and no mans lands into Special Forces Training Camps. As part of their training and community service, they go hunt poachers for a couple weeks a year. It’s doesn’t have to be just U.S. and U.K. special forces, it can be anyone. GROM, Spetsnaz….

They better hope Spetsnaz kills them before they go to work on them for funnsies, ‘cuz I don’t.

I am dead serious. I have no problem with my tax dollars being spent on this.

 

*And this is the toned down version.