It all started on Monday, or was it Tuesday? The day that the tragic tale of Cecil the lion broke. A magnificent, wild lion, lured out of a national park in Zimbabwe by greedy men with small penises, so that another megalomaniac with a small penis too much money and no sense could shoot at him with a bow and arrow. Could shoot at him and not kill him, but wound him, so that he could then spend forty hours in pain before the trackers could find him and shoot him. Then they beheaded him and skinned him so that the rich dentist could mount him and fly him away from his country of birth, his pride, to hang him on a wall, glazed-eyed. For £35 000.
It almost broke the internet, as these things do. For three days, every second post, article and tweet was about Cecil the lion. The usual slew of internet hatred rose in a wave that engulfed all reason as people bayed for the blood of the dentist. Surprisingly little was mentioned of the men who – one presumes – took the man’s money and organised the luring of Cecil to his untimely, graceless and cruel death. The men who organise these bloody safari trips day by day, year by year, steadily making sure that Africa’s wildlife is plundered.
This is the problem with these internet witch hunts, the focus so easily gets misplaced. It’s pretty clear from my paragraphs above about where I stand on trophy hunting, but I am also an unflinching believer in the fact that greeting violence with more violence results in nothing but even more violence. It’s a pretty simple mathematical equation that, frankly, my witless – but terribly sweet – kitten could work out for himself.
Somehow, though, in these blasts of controversial issues that pop up on the internet over and over, people forget that. Killing the dentist that killed Cecil will result in a dead lion and a dead dentist. It will not save the rest of the lions and it won’t make anybody feel better, especially not the lions. Don’t get me wrong, the dentist and – more importantly – the guys organising these ‘illegal’ hunts, and – most importantly – the crooked officials behind the issuing of the many hunting permits, should all be taken to task, and justice should be served.
The bottom line is, though, that most of the people going on and on about it on social media will have forgotten about it by the time it even gets close to any kind of justice process, if it does at all (we all know that, sadly, these cases involving men with lots of money often just magically ‘disappear’). They’ll have moved on to whatever the next internet atrocity-sensation is that they can post stuff on, spew vitriolic comments at, and vent their anger over, and will have forgotten that a lion called Cecil even existed.
And here is where I – finally – make my point. If everyone could just harness the five minutes of time and energy (and I realise that for some it’s one minute, for others it’s four hours) that they’ve spent getting heated about Cecil, and actually DO something – be it a donation to WildCRU, or giving time at the local SPCA, hell, if all you can manage is a letter to your local airline to ban the transport of hunting ‘trophies’, whatever – deaths like Cecil’s would not be in vain. Because, people of the internets – lions like Cecil are killed daily, and rhino, and elephant… the list goes on. It’s just that most of them are nameless.
I also realise, painfully, that it is terribly screwed up that Cecil garners so much attention when the human rights atrocities going on in Zimbabwe and the rest of the world are everyday and horrific, but that, I fear, is just the way the internet works. I do, truly, believe there is enough activism within us to fight them all, one doesn’t need to be side-lined by the other.
For this minute, though, while Cecil is ‘trending’, let’s see if the world can actually harness all the negative energy (and I mean that in the most unhippy way) and flip it on its head to stop trophy hunting and its even-more-sinister ugly brother, canned hunting, before Africa is left barren.