Lions > People?

In a New York Times op-ed yesterday, August 4, 2015, a native of Zimbabwe raised some very important points on the recent killing of Cecil the Lion. If you have not heard of the story (and how could you not), an American dentist and hunting enthusiast recently shot and killed a lion in the country, named Cecil, and the world is up in arms about it. The writer of this op-ed, Goodwell Nzou, explained how he has little sympathy for the killing of the lion, mainly because of growing up as a child in a Zimbabwean village. Lions are a frequent problem there, especially in his village. When a lion ventures too close to the village, life is forced to screech to a halt. There are no campfires, everyone has to travel in groups to school, and those traveling on the outskirts are forced to carry weapons with them. There was one instance the writer recalls when a boy fell asleep in the crop fields and was mauled and killed by a prowling lion.

Goodwell explains how each tribe in Zimbabwe has absolute respect for animals, so much so that each tribe claims a specific animal as their “mythological ancestor” and that eating the meat of that animal would be like eating the flesh of a family member. But this does not mean that the members of the tribe abstain from hunting such animals or allowing them to be hunted. When the lion that had been stalking Goodwell’s village was finally killed, it was a time for celebration and everyone was able to go on with their lives.

Goodwell’s point is that while the needless killing of animals for sport may not be something you agree with, mass American outrage should be pointed instead to the countless people suffering from starvation and political violence in Africa. That is something we can all agree on. You can read the op-ed here, it’s worth it.