Over the last couple weeks, the world has erupted in response the death of Cecil — a black-maned lion from the Hwange National Park reserve in Zimbabwe. People have taken to social media to voice their outrage and sorrow in the wake of the saddest lion death since Mufasa. If you haven’t kept up to date on the matter, here’s everything you need to know.

 

1. Cecil: Life and death

A focal point of the Hwange reserve, the 13-year-old lion alone attracted thousands of visitors annually. He had a reputation for comfort with parking guests, making photo opportunities easy.

 

According to reports, Cecil’s killers lured him from the reserve and shot him with an arrow fired from a crossbow. Over the next 40 hours, they hunted the lion, eventually taking him down with a rifle. Upon death, they skinned and decapitated Cecil for trophies, and made attempts to destroy his tracking collar as well.

 

Walter Palmer's office, covered in picketing signs

The dental office of Walter Palmer had to remove nearly every trace of its social media presence, but no one could stop the protesting at his office. (wikipedia.org)

2. Walter Palmer: The man behind the gun

Cecil’s killer, American dentist Walter Palmer, supposedly paid $50,000 to a hunting guide to kill a lion. Response to the killing has been so severe that Palmer himself has gone into hiding. All across the globe, people have taken to social media, shaming Palmer and eulogizing Cecil with the hashtag “#lionlivesmatter.”

 

The government of Zimbabwe has reached out to the United States and called for the extradition of Palmer to Africa in order to face justice for the death of Cecil. Legally speaking, he could face fines of up to $20,000 and 10 years in prison, but the scorn of the public will likely never fade.

 

3. The problem of poaching

Cecil’s death came at the hands of poachers. Poaching — or unregulated, unlicensed hunting — has become a serious problem for the populations of many exotic African animals. The Born Free Foundation has indicated that poachers have killed almost half of Africa’s lions over the last two decades, causing only 32,000 to remain alive today.

 

This problem is not exclusive to the lion population. With the Asian ivory trade boom, the rampant slaughter of rhinos and elephants in Africa have increased dramatically — as their horns and tusks contain bountiful amounts of the substance. Only this year, Kenya destroyed $30 million in seized ivory from poached animals.

 

What are your thoughts on the death of Cecil? What should Walter Palmer’s punishment be? Comment below or tweet @connerws to tell us what you think!