Why so special, Cecil?

The killing of Cecil the lion has sparked controversy this summer, as he was shot and killed just outside of the national park in which he had lived. Cecil was 13 years old, and shot by an American dentist.

Tributes have been paid to Cecil from across the world, from celebrities, politicians and more recently, Disney themselves have created a tribute to the lion. A worldwide debate has been started over the protection of species in national parks, and the legal issue of big game hunting; criticism for the hunter, Walter Palmer has been extreme, and it is thought likely he could lose his career as a result.

However, what is so special about Cecil? Across Zimbabwe, and the world as a whole, many animals are hunted and poached daily, so why is there so much outrage about this individual case? Do all lions have the same rights and privileges as Cecil had? Cecil seemed to be quite the celebrity of the animal kingdom, but was killing Cecil more of a crime than killing any other lion?

If a murderer kills a celebrity or public figure, is that more of a crime than if they had killed Steve from three doors down? Was the shooting of a prolific animal more of a crime than the slaughter of a lesser known animal?

Not long ago, when the world was aghast to see images of a hunter posing with a dead giraffe, the focus had been on the hunter, rather than the giraffe. The photo sparked outrage but no touching tributes were paid to the giraffe, and the story was forgotten a lot more quickly than Cecil’s case is likely to be.

As I am glad this event has got people talking about animal rights, the legal side of hunting and the sanctity of national parks, I still don’t understand what it was that elevated Cecil so magnificently above every other hunted animal.

And so when it comes to crime, are we all equal?


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