How Killing a Lion Destroys Our Planet

By Susan Lutz

Tracking a lion for 40 hours must have been exciting. Far from home, stalking the king of beasts in the wilds of Africa, feeling the thrill of not only the hunt, but the exotic power of ruling over animals, taking, leaving the rest to rot must have been exciting. This desire to take, this desire to own, this desire to control is the consciousness that is killing our planet.

Cecil-the-LionA Minnesota dentist and the men he paid to take him hunting in Zimbabwe are now being sought for questioning. This from CNN:

“All persons implicated in this case are due to appear in court facing poaching charges,” it said.

Officials said they believed Palmer had paid between $50,000 and $55,000 for the hunt to kill the lion.

We see what we want. We take what we want, often without regard for the effects our choices have on the environment. Killing a lion for thrill is taking for oneself and oneself alone, leaving no regard for life, animal or human. This mentality doesn’t stop with the animal kingdom.

We take by ignoring ramifications. When we purchase products that are made in sweatshops, we mistreat human beings. When we find out there’s a hole in the ozone layer, we claim we didn’t know our choices made a difference.

We take by consuming. We drink water in plastic bottles and toss them after one use; smug in our belief that recycling will take care of it. We pop a K-cup in the machine for a cup of coffee and drink 8 ounces of convenience, leaving behind billions of plastic cups to choke the planet.

We take by selling out. We ignore when politicians pass laws that make it OK to put toxins in our food.

We take by waiting for someone else to do it. For years, activists have tried to ban trophy hunting. We wait for the tragic to motivate us to change.

I searched hard on how to not judge this dentist from Minnesota. I’m from Minnesota. We’re not saints, but there’s this belief that we hold ourselves up to standards. My family hunts. I’ve been surrounded by the climate of hunting since birth, the camouflage, the orange vests, the guns, and the deer hanging from the garage in the cold of the fall. I’ve stood on the sidelines while this ritual, tradition, and sport took place. The hunters I know would be as devastated by this story as I am.

It’s hard to understand that in the entire time this dentist was planning his trip, it never occurred to him it might be wrong. He spent thousands of dollars, traveled thousands of miles, and then tracked the animals for 40 hours. He and his guides skinned the animal and beheaded it. Wasn’t there just one second, one moment, a fleeting thought that perhaps this is wrong? Even if not legally, morally?

I lived in a foreign country. I understand the lure of another country. Seeing the tropics, or the jungle, or the rainforest, or an animal in its habitat is exciting. It truly is interesting, educational, and enlightening to see and experience another land and culture. Tourism helps many countries. It’s critical to many economies. Yet, there are those who go take, forget, and ignore the ramifications of their actions. We’ve watched tourists climb mountains and take pictures naked for the sake of an interesting shot to put on social media. In Central America and other countries, many tourists travel for cheap sex, including with children. This is the mentality of take. Take for me – I don’t care about the rest.

I feel a deep sadness for the final hours of this regal animal, walking to his slow death in pain, suffering. I feel sadness for the country that lost a true, breathing, wonderful part of their culture. I feel sadness for the cubs left behind, the destruction and disorder inflicted by man on their pride. I even feel sadness for this dentist. In the time he spent hunting this animal down for sport, he lost time, time he can never take back. He does have a chance to change things. In the hours to come, in the actions he takes, he has the opportunity to give back instead of taking and find a way to make amends.

We’re meant to take. The cycle of life is giving and receiving. Yet, we must understand that we have a responsibility to act with care in how we take and be sure in all we receive, we are giving back.