African lions are vanishing at an alarming rate, but trophy hunters don’t care
His name was Xanda, and like his beloved father Cecil the lion, he was shot and killed by a trophy hunter who perhaps wants the head of another dead animal collecting dust on a wall in his living room.
At six years old, Xanda was Cecil’s oldest cub. He was killed just outside of Hwange National Park in northwest Zimbabwe, Raw Story reports.
The hunting trip was arranged by Richard Cooke Safaris, The Washington Post reports. Xanda was killed by one of Cooke’s clients.
Unfortunately, as tragic as this is, Xanda’s killing was legal.
According to Andrew Loveridge, who works for the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, it was legal because Xanda was over six years old and was outside the park’s boundaries when he was killed, The Telegraph reports.
Richard Cooke is one of the ‘good guys,’ Loveridge said. “He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over six years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations.
But people who help run Hwange National Park are understandably upset over the loss of another beloved lion.
Indeed, where will lions anywhere in Africa be left to live out their years in the wild? All across Africa their populations are plummeting, notes Scientific American. The majestic cats have vanished in as many as 16 African nations and their populations have dropped by 42 percent in just 21 years. The data comes from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species which lists African lions (Panthera leo leo) as vulnerable to extinction.
The West African lion population has been hit hardest. A study published last year revealed that only 400 lions remained in the 17 nations of western Africa, and these lions are now listed as critically endangered.
There are many reasons why lion populations are declining, but one of the biggest reasons is that wild animals that lions normally depend on for food are also disappearing due to habitat loss and the encroachment of agriculture to feed the continent’s growing human population, Scientific American reports. With their natural prey disappearing, the big cats turn to livestock for food. And the IUCN found that lion predation of livestock can cost a Kenyan farmer $290 a year. That’s an enormous hit when you consider that the gross national income per capita is just over $1100 per year.
Fortunately, there is a minor bit of good news in this gloomy scenario. Conservation efforts in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have resulted in an 11 percent in lion populations, where most of these big cats live inside fenced reserves. But most of these reserves have reached their carrying capacity and can’t support additional lions.
Walter Palmer, the dentist who shot Cecil in 2015, and drew comparisons to President Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, who also like to kill living things, sparked international outrage when he killed the beloved lion after luring him out of the park.
Palmer and Trump’s offspring likely don’t care that every time a lion is shot, this means that more cubs aren’t being born. I don’t know how many cubs Xanda has fathered, but he was young enough to sire many more litters. With so many rare and precious species vanishing on this planet, it is truly heartbreaking that some people think it’s fine to steal their lives for a head on the wall or a stupid rug.
These people are disgusting. I wish they’d go extinct instead.
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