By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, CBT
In the wake of Cecil the lion, we come to realize he's an ambassador for all living animals. Lions, elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, cats, and dogs are killed each minute of every day, year-round. What we make of Cecil's death defines us as individuals and as a species.
A tragic event has occurred in which we must rally together in order to educate a percentage of the population that believes poaching, or killing animals for sport, is an accepted thing, a good thing, a necessary thing. Walter Palmer is one of these people, but he's not the only one. I believe education is the best outcome for these nonsense killers.
An Eye For An Eye
Social media has gone mad with rage and wants to see M. Palmer die either physically or financially. That being said, many people depend on M. Palmer's practice to feed their families. As with any tragedy, many people are affected by the loss. Consequently, an eye for an eye is not the best outcome for animals or people. I propose Walter Palmer go to trial and serve his sentence in an animal rehabilitation or sanctuary. What better way to educate killers than to expose them to the day-to-day suffering of those animals whom they have forever changed because of poaching.
No one can be insensitive to the torments of an orphaned animal. No one can whiteness the last moments of a dying animal without being affected. If M. Palmer is exposed to the daily carnage that is poaching, then maybe he'll understand the absurdity of his actions and become a voice, the voice, for animal welfare.
Let's rise to the occasion and turn Cecil the lion's death into a positive experience. We all have voices, thus, we can be heard. Let's roar loudly to those who kill animals for no reason. Speak high and loud to tell Walter Palmer's friends we won't stand for poaching. Voice to your government representatives that killing is not a viable ecological and economical management strategy. Animals are our future, for each species contributes to mother nature's balance. It's our responsibility to ensure animals of all species live free, long and healthy lives.
We, as animal lovers, are fascinated by behaviour. We love to see animals live within their territories and behave as they should. We also believe habitat loss and poaching are abstract concepts because they don't affect us. They're not and they do. In North America, mostly the United States, wolves have been eradicated, and without a natural predator, hoofed animals are destroying the landscape, which in turn, promotes erosion. If you want to see what wolves do to ecosystems, watch this short four-minute video. I promise, your mind will be blown away.
What can we do within our urbanized cities to prevent the extermination of elephants, lions, bears, wolves, tigers, cheetahs, crocodiles, and so forth? You can address the taboo topic within your families and communities, real or virtual. You can visit zoological establishments which can and do work very hard at conservation by breeding and ensuring genetic diversity. Africa's last North white rhinoceros is under heavy guard around the clock. On the other hand, the Western black rhinoceros was not so lucky and is now officially extinct. If we had captured these rhinoceros and placed them in captivity, we would have had a chance to save them.
I understand if you're against animals kept in zoological institutions or private reserves, I am too, but truth is, animals are safer within our artificial walls than in their natural habitat. The white lion is another example. You cannot and will not see white lions walk or hunt in Timbavati, their homeland, because they were exterminated. A few select establishments in North America have white lions in captivity in order to help reproduce and enhance genetic diversity. Fortunately, a small group of people is determined to reintroduce the white lion to Timbavati, or at least save it from extinction.
I urge you to talk to your children, visit Africa, support zoological establishments which try their best to breed and reintroduce animals within protected territories and reserves. Give to animal foundations, volunteer your vacation time, or better yet, host a special animal ambassador event for your friends and family to learn about poaching by-products like ivory, supplements, clothing made of fur, artifacts made of horns, the list is long.
We're at crossroads between captive animal management and habitat destruction. Poaching is directly linked to greed and consumerism. Children need to learn to value, interact, enjoy, touch, feel, or even see animals in their natural settings. Most urban dwellers have never seen or touched a cow. We need to change that. We need to make people care. For, without lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, cougars, or wolves, hoofed animals will conquer the landscape and our rivers will die.
I'd love to see animals live a free life as they did when I was a child, but till we can educate people and stop the massacre, this reality is no longer a viable option. The death of Cecil the lion is sad; however, good must come of it. I believe it's our responsibility to voice their plight and make changes. Walter Palmer doesn't deserve to die, he deserves to be face-to-face with the living victims of his actions.