Killing of Cecil a Shot Heard Round the World to End Trophy Hunting Madness of Rare, Majestic Animals

By on September 8, 2015 with 12 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Walter Palmer tries to get back on his feet, professionally at least, by reopening his dental practice in Eden Prairie, Minn., today, according to a joint interview he conducted with the Associated Press and Minneapolis Star Tribune. With Zimbabwe not having formally charged him or requested the United States to extradite him, reportedly due to fears that prosecuting him would deter other trophy hunters from heading to Zimbabwe, you can understand why he wants to get on with his life.

Let’s hope, though, that many of his clients have gained a new understanding of the man, and realize that they can make a powerful statement by taking their business elsewhere. They shouldn’t be bamboozled by his claim that his lion-killing was just one unlucky circumstance. After all, he’s been exposed previously for breaking the law in order to kill trophy animals, as in neighboring Wisconsin where he has a felony conviction for illegally killing an enormous black bear.

But as with the Michael Vick case on dogfighting, or with The HSUS’s undercover investigations of Jackie McConnell abusing Tennessee walking horses at his stable, and the abusive handling of cows by operators at the Hallmark/Westland slaughter plant in Chino, Calif., it would be a shame to focus only on the individuals involved in these crimes. Each case illuminated a larger problem in our society that needs our focus – the clandestine world of dogfighting;  the “Big Lick” segment of the Tennessee walking horse show world intent on abusing, or soring, horses to win ribbons; or slaughterhouse operators willing to drag and push downed animals into the kill box, no matter the torment they suffer. All of these people, like Palmer, are part of larger enterprises that trade on the systematic abuse of animals.

In Palmer’s case, we have a vivid example of the subculture of international, competitive trophy hunting, where wealthy elites pay off guides or local wildlife officials and bend and break rules in their quest to kill the biggest, often rarest animals in order to get into the record books.

It’s good and right that we are starting to see some reform, with 43 airlines agreeing to stop shipping trophies from the Africa Big Five – African lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalo. Others, including UPS and South Africa Airways, should follow suit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will, hopefully, soon formally list African lions under the Endangered Species Act. That cannot come soon enough, since we don’t want to see a bum’s rush of trophy hunters descending upon Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and other countries willing to sell off their remaining lions to predatory Americans.

Senator Robert Menendez has introduced legislation in Congress to ban imports of trophies from species now listed, or soon to be listed, as threatened or endangered. We hope, too, that Congress nixes a provision in a so-called “Sportsmen’s Act,” to provide import allowances for trophies of 41 polar bears shot by Safari Club members who have been barred from importing the trophies because the animals were listed as threatened with extinction.

It’s time for a number of African nations, trading their wildlife to trophy hunters for cash, to abandon that model. Botswana, Kenya, and Rwanda have done so, and realized that the market for wildlife-watching dwarfs the pool of trophy hunters and provides livelihoods for far more people.

So, yes, let’s drive these goals.  But let’s show no tolerance for the people who have trophy madness and travel the globe to kill the world’s most majestic animals in a global head-hunting exercise. We rightly abhor poachers who kill elephants for their ivory and rhinos for their horns. Palmer and other millionaire trophy hunters cannot rely on the poachers’ claim of economic necessity as a rationale, as if it’s some necessary evil. In case of trophy hunting, there’s no necessity, and we’re left only with the evil.

P.S.: Breaking news from Brussels: I’m delighted to announce that the European Parliament has just voted overwhelmingly to strengthen the European Union ban on the trade in seal products. The lopsided vote – 631 for and just 31 against – is not only an extraordinary win for seals but a rebuke of the Canadian government, which has been subsidizing this cruel and archaic seal slaughter every winter. This is also a great victory for our team that has worked to end the Canadian seal slaughter for over a decade. We have been up against at least seven state governments, the international fur trade, and a segment of the commercial fishing industry, and yet we’ve still succeeded in closing most of the world’s key markets for seal products. Last year’s seal kill was one of the lowest on record, precisely because of our work to close off big markets, and we’re more committed than ever to permanently end the Canadian seal slaughter.

Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Annoula Wylderich says:

    So well said, Wayne. Fortunately, those humans who behave as though we’re the only species that counts are in the minority; and the more compassionate members of society are gaining speed. Very encouraging to see the progress we’re making for animal protection and welfare.

  2. Nancy Zimerowski says:

    As one who worked to put an end to the Canadian seal slaughter, I celebrate the news coming from Brussels that you just shared with us. This serves as an example that things can change! Trophy hunting can be stopped. Please continue to shine a light on this cruel practice, and I look forward to the day when these majestic animals can live their lives without encountering trophy hunters.

  3. Robert Goldman says:

    Wayne, this blog, the news and the positive results that are happening for animals and that are coming around the corner, is why I enthusiastically support HSUS.

  4. Carole Menninger says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of trophy hunting, also canned hunting, which as you know, Texas has 500 of these awful places, and some 3,500 others in the states – just saw Blood Lions film, it is excellent and shows just awful this is. Have contacted both Senators and McCaul, my U.S. Rep, to pass The Cecil Act and vote AGAINST both House and Senate Sportsmen bills – many more people need to get involved.

    That is good news about the Canadian seal trade and what it means toward hopefully the END of those God awful hunts.

    Thanks for all you do to help animals.

  5. Lloyd Forrester says:


  6. Minerva Scheffel says:

    “With Zimbabwe not having formally charged him or requested the United States to extradite him, reportedly due to fears that prosecuting him would deter other trophy hunters from heading to Zimbabwe, you can understand why he wants to get on with his life.”
    This sounds like the fight to have him prosecuted is over? I’m very disappointed to hear this. What can I do as a citizen to encourage this to happen? It’s too early to just give up and let him continue unscathed.

  7. Michelle Frankie says:

    U know hus actions r cruelty n violence it seems to me hus license for dentistry should b revoked based in that alone

  8. Linda butler says:

    Thank you so much for what
    You are accomplishing to
    Save the animals and give
    Them a decent life.

    Our arrogance of controlling
    Their lives is pathetic and

  9. Cecilia Villacorta says:

    I celebrate to hear the the good news about Canadian trade of seals,thank you for that Wayne.
    But it is very disgusting to hear that a monster like Palmer is re opening his practice as a dentist like he has done nothing to be in jail for all his crimes is not only Cecil that take part of all his killings I’ve seen pictures of him holding leopards, rhinos so forth and so on; Society needs to understand this is a criminal and I can’t wait to see him and people like him at least in jail.and also finnally passing the law that prohibits the killing of these majestic creatures like Cecil.
    The other law that needs to pass is the soaring and torture of horses suffering so much just to win a ribbon that’s animal cruelty and needs to be stop at all cost.
    There are so many laws government must pass in order to have these animals in our future otherwise we will have only pictures of them for future generations if we have one .
    Pestilences will keep our company like aids1 and 2 now also scientists are talking of Ebola 1 Ebola 2 and for none of this viruses They have no clue what the remedy is and as it is is well spread in a large part of Africa even Bavaria and they’re waiting for the disease that we don’t know yet wich will be the the next one, Ebola3 they said that one will reach Europe, Asia and will come to the Americas and will kill at least half of the planet and this is due people eating primates.
    Simple explanation they said we share 99% of DNA with all of them that’s the reason we have all those diseases that are out of control for them.
    To me it will be nature telling us “you see how it feels ”
    We need to protect God’s creation mankind doesn’t have a top predator but we do have Hunger,War,Pestilence and Death.
    ” Look at your present, and you will know your future ”
    ~Budda ~

  10. Cathy says:

    Look back at the picture: Cecil was so handsome and so regal…….



  12. Anirban (aka Abner) Bhattacharya says:

    Hope Mr. Wayne N. Pacelle approves my post as though it repeats what I said in another blog he did on this topic, it needs to be said again for eduacating.

    I am a person who agrees with Rush H. Limbaugh & Patrick J. Buchanan on hunting-hunting for food is fine but hunting for sport is wrong. I can tolerate hunting wild goats, deer, ducks, pheasants, hares, rabbits & squirrels for food as long as animal is quickly killed & eaten for food. But I can’t tolerate hunting animals just because it’s there. Also have added thoughts to cull hunting which will be @ end of this post.

    People from other nations who go to Africa to hunt elephants, giraffes, etc. do that mainly because they want to kill an animal they can’t find in their own nations. These hunters can’t let well enough alone in that they can’t settle for the wild goats, deer, pheasants, etc. they hunt but need to hunt that giraffe. If people want to hunt deer, pheasant, ducks, hares or rabbits for food, then as long as they are swiftly killed, I have no problem.

    Yes, it’s legal for tourists to travel to Africa to hunt giraffes & pay alot of money for this hunt. But just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. Law in most Spanish provinces allow bullfighting (I used to live in Spain), but they should abolish bullfighting because there are more humane & fast ways to kill for food.

    While it’s legal, there is no need for people to travel to Africa to hunt gazelles, gnus, impalas, giraffes or other animals though the animals are killed for feeding the local natives in Africa. Let the African natives hunt the gazelles, gnus, impalas, etc. for their food as they have guns, know marksmanship on how to quickly kill the animals they hunt for food & it is not expensive to learn this.

    I am against tourists spending alot of money to go hunt giraffes in Africa, because again they do it because they mainly want to hunt animals they can’t get in their nations & there is no need for people to travel to Africa to spend alot of money hunt elephants, giraffes, etc.

    My idea is to end the greed. & when you have money spent on these hunts, you also get African species endangered because tourists spend money to hunt them & the tour guides (some who make money from selling animal parts). Animals such as rhinos, hippos & lions are endangered & there must be a law against these hunts. Tourists traveling to Africa to hunt them is about money & alot of the money goes to tour guides involved in illegal trades.

    Africans hunting giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, etc. for food where they quickly kill their prey with guns & not profit is 1 thing. Let the African natives hunt the gazelles, gnus, impalas, etc. for their food as they have guns, know marksmanship on how to quickly kill the animals they hunt for food & it is not expensive to learn this. There is no need for tourists to spend alot of money to hunt their food, but happens because again, it’s about money.

    We don’t need private hunters hunting wolves, foxes & coyotes. If cull is needed to prevent overpopulation, then that can be done by wildlife officials since these are not food hunts. Problem with these hunts is that people take more than what is allowed.They could require cameras & have wildlife officials monitor these cull hunts.

    With govt. doing aerial shootings by helicopter of wolves, foxes, coyotes & other animals to prevent overpopulation & diseases. Public input in most cases given before it’s authorized. @least here there is less possibility of over hunting & there are statistics (hopefully honest) kept on how many wolves, foxes, etc. were killed in cull hunts.

    Now yes, you can have excess bobcats, cougars, wolves, foxes & coyotes attacking pets & livestock. Yes, you can have diseases such as parvo. If they can avoid hunting them & put them in zoos, then that would be better. If they are to be hunted, then it must be done by wildlife officials to cull diseases & not private hunters. But before they are, then there should be biological statements which show that culling is only choice & there should be public input. They should do what they can to avoid hunting bobcats, cougars, wolves, foxes & coyotes because these animals aren’t food & we don’t need fur coats anymore to stay warm.

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