With the death of Cecil the Lion, the Zimbabwe government have secured a rare opportunity to appear on the positive side of an animal welfare issue. Cecil, the dominent male of his pride, was famed througout Africa for his friendliness to humans, recognisable by his distinctive black mane, and protected as part of an Oxford University study within Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.
Hwange National Park is the very same park where in December 2014 the Zimbabwe Govenment abducted thirty four elephant babies and ten lions, finally shipping twenty four of the survivors in horrific conditions just this month. Network for Animals rightly question whether Zimbabwe's governors are prosecuting two local hunting facilitators through compassion for Cecil, or compassion for the $50,000 which didn't end up as government profit.
Over the last thirty years, African lion populations have been reduced by 60% and now stand around 30,000. African elephant populations have been reduced from millions at the turn of the century, to around 450,000 today. And just two days ago, Nabire, the fifth surviving white rhino in the world, died in the captivity she was born into.
Against this global backdrop of human devastation inflicted upon nature, it is still absolutely correct to be outraged at the death of a single animal. This death was entirely unnecessary and unjustified: The power of currency versus the value of life. But it is vital that our outrage doesn't simply end at the greed of a Dentist from Minnesota.
Take part in a vital campaign against profiting from poaching
The South African government is moving to legalise the selling of rhino horn, at a time when poaching is out of control and rhinos face extinction in the wild. Almost 15% of the rhinos in South Africa have been slaughtered since 2010, 1116 in 2014 alone. Often the poachers hack off the rhino horn while the animal is still alive, then leave the animal to die in agony.
Legalising the trade in rhino horn will allow the South African government to sell 22 tons of rhino horn that it has in storage (roughly 25 000 dead rhinos) but that would not even dent global demand. Instead the illegal trade will boom because it will become easy for a criminal to pass off a poached rhino horn as legal. Today, please email the South African Environmental Affairs Minister, and urge South Africa to say no to legalizing rhino horn sales.