Cecil Killing Offers Prospect of Sweeping Reforms

By on August 20, 2015 with 10 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

The reverberations from the early July slaying of Cecil the lion continue to be felt worldwide, with the news that authorities in Zimbabwe have charged the second of two men who guided Safari Club International member Walter Palmer’s illicit trophy kill just outside the borders of Hwange National Park. “Cecil was delivered to him like a pizza,” said the Hwange Lion Research Project’s Brent Stapelkamp, who took the last photo of Cecil alive, just a month before Palmer killed, skinned, and beheaded the lion with the assistance of hunting guide Theo Bronkhurst and game park owner Honest Ndlovu. We are still awaiting word on Zimbabwe’s request to extradite Walter Palmer, who was at the center of this scheme to kill Hwange National Park’s most famous lion, and if that happens, there will be some measure of justice for all three horsemen of the Hwange apocalypse.

We’re also urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to finalize its proposed rule listing the African lion under the Endangered Species Act, as have dozens of members of Congress. We are hoping for final action from the agency soon, so that further imports of lion trophies will be restricted or banned from African nations.

Either way, the killers will have a hard time getting those trophies back home. Since the Cecil slaying, 38 airlines have committed to halting the shipping of the Africa Big Five. Delta, United, and American Airlines – the big U.S.-based carriers with service to Africa — are among the airlines to ban shipping lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo trophies. UPS this week announced a good, sound policy of not shipping shark fins, but we are still awaiting a declaration from that company on its policy concerning the hunting trophies, since four species of the Africa Big Five are listed, or about to be listed, as threatened with extinction under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has introduced a bill to ban all imports of trophies and parts from African lions and other at-risk species into the United States. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX, have announced their intention to sponsor a bill to amend the Endangered Species Act to ban “all acts of senseless and perilous trophy killings.”  Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey have introduced bills to restrict imports into their states.

Right now, there are 41 trophy hunters who, just like Walter Palmer, paid a fortune to kill an animal about to get listed under the Endangered Species Act, and want a waiver from Congress to display the heads and hides of the slain animals in their homes. In the case of the 41, they killed polar bears in northern Canada. We’re fighting their import-waiver effort – not just as a symbolic act to deny these trophy hunters their ill-gotten gains, but to prevent the bum rush of trophy hunters into a foreign land whenever our federal government announces that it’s going to upgrade federal protections for a declining species and restrict imports.

Finally, there is the battle we’re waging in the marketplace of ideas. We’ve answered the self-serving reasoning of the trophy-hunting clan about the value of their activity to conservation, and more than ever, people see through their pay-to-slay reasoning. People realize that trophy killing undermines wildlife conservation, is no boon to national or regional economies anywhere, and should not be countenanced or encouraged by anyone. How can anyone possibly think it’s helpful to animals to kill a dominant lion in a pride with an arrow, or to slay a large-tusked elephant, or a mature rhino with a beautiful horn? For them, I guess, it diminishes the utter selfishness of the activity by concocting some far-fetched scenario where killing a creature somehow helps the grieving, surviving family members or pride or herd mates. It’s really a travesty to think anyone could buy this drivel.

When it comes to The HSUS and Humane Society International, we’re going to devote more resources, in the near and the long term, to fight this enterprise of globe-trotting trophy hunting of the rarest, most remarkable animals in the world. If you’re willing to stand with us, and to support our worldwide campaigns against trophy killing, I’m willing to make you this promise: Cecil won’t have died in vain.


Here’s how you can help fight trophy hunting:

Tell Congress to stop trophy hunting >

Ask the USFWS to finalize listing African lions under the Endangered Species Act >

Ask airlines to end the transport of hunting trophies >

Ask South African Airways to recommit to a ban on hunting trophies >

Tell UPS to ban the shipment of hunting trophies >


Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Nancy Zimerowski says:

    Thank you so much, Wayne, for your continued attention to this issue of trophy hunting. I certainly believe you when you promise us that Cecil will not have died in vain. We need to continue the pressure and support the HSUS’ worldwide campaign to ban trophy hunting.

  2. Sheryl Schroeder says:

    Wayne, Thank you so much for this. Cecil’s senseless death has broken my heart. I will not forget it and I will be watching closely and working to ban trophy hunting everywhere. Time for this ugly barbaric outdated practice to END now before it’s too late. Can one lion change the world? I hope so!

  3. David Bernazani says:

    Cecil’s death has already brought huge changes to the ugly world of trophy hunting; especially noticable is the attention now being paid to it by major newspapers and other media. In fact, srange as it may sound, Mr. Palmer may actually have done more for the fight against cruel and senseless killing of wildlife than just about any animal welfare organization ever did (with the possible exception of the HSUS!)
    Cecil most certainly did not die in vain. His name will now be remembered down through the centuries, long after humans cease the lunacy of killing for fun, and universal compassion and respect for other species is the norm.

  4. Denise says:

    we all need to do out part and keep the pressure up. contact your Congress Reps and let them know how you feel about this issue and what you want done. make no mistake these destroyers of wildlife are not sitting idle, they are lobbying vigorously to stop any legislation that impedes their ability to kill for fun. this is NOT Sport and this is NOT hunting. this IS slaughter of wildlife and we can make it stop. thank you Wayne and HSUS for keeping this matter at the forefront of headlines.

    • Morgan Cormia says:

      Thank you Wayne for your positive updates regarding Cecil. His death broke my heart amongst many others. The majority of the public are with you and want to end the barbaric sport of trophy hunting. Please keep sending petitions that we can sign and pass along to our friends and family! Justice for Cecil!

  5. Rosemary Tofexis says:

    Wayne, I want to thank you for your continued attention to this horrendous and unnecessary barbaric act of “trophy killing”. I gag at the thought of someone calling this a “trophy”. Such a Majestic Animal who had a Beautiful Pride, who are now torn apart and confused as to where their “Leader” is, is beyond heartache! God bless you for your continued action and put the pressure on Congress and everyone else who can STOP this act of violence! 🙁

  6. Marilyn says:

    I would be happy to see a Ban on All, and Any Animal ( dead or alive ) !
    Especially ! the Canned Hunts in All of the States ( Texas, etc. )

    I am so Disgusted with most of the human race !

  7. karen@me.com says:

    Thank you for all your efforts to help stop the killing of these beautiful animals. The dentist that killed Ceil should be put in jail along with all the other animal killers. These people are not hunting for food to eat, they are hunting because they want to big time. They are little people with know friends. What goes around comes around. There is a judgement day coming and they will have to answer to God for what they have done.

  8. Annie Sherman says:

    Wayne, we thank you and your team very much for speaking out and working tirelessly and courageously for all animals. You are doing God’s work. The senseless and cruel death of Cecil broke our hearts. This majestic King of the Jungle must not die in vein. We can’t bring Cecil back but we shall always remember him. Please continue to keep the atrocious murder of Cecil in the forefront and please do not let time fades our outrage of this tragedy. Killer Palmer should be put in jail for what he did and the sadness and pain of loss he has caused the beautiful Pride of Cecil and us. We demand Justice for Cecil!

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