The widespread media coverage and international outrage that followed the illegal killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist has surely taken anti-trophy hunting sentiment to new heights.
Animal rights groups across the globe were quick to use Cecil to push their agendas, however tenuous the links between Zimbabwe’s most famous lions’ death and their own causes.
The general public took to social media to issue hunters with death threats and deride what they see as an inhumane and archaic pursuit. TV presenters broke down in tears. Some model with big eyebrows held a benefit event. And suddenly, everyone was a lion expert.
Bowing to growing pressure, 20 international airlines have since imposed bans on the transport of hunting trophies on their planes, a move that is being celebrated by wildlife lovers everywhere.
Namibia and South Africa, both of whom have thriving hunting industries, have been urged to follow this lead and ban trophies on their national carriers.
Speaking in light of their current failure to do so, Humane Society International CEO Andrew Rowan said “It’s high time for South Africa and Namibia to reconsider the supposed value of trophy hunting to your economies and the harm it is causing to wildlife populations, the way in which it undermines the rule of law including through corruption, and the vehement disapproval of this activity as demonstrated by the outpouring of conern over Cecil’s killing”.
Rowan and many other hunting critics (myself included) have cited a study by Economists at Large which suggests that trophy hunting contributes very little to overall tourism revenue in nine African countries that allow trophy hunting, and that it also brings minimal benefits to local communities, contrary to the claims of many hunters and hunting operators. Namibia is one of the countries included in this report.