Final Thoughts on Cecil the Lion (long)

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. vrDrew, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015

    vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I'll start by saying two things: I had an incredibly fortunate childhood. And I don't like going to zoos.

    Between 1971 and 1977 I lived in South Africa; where my father had a job as an executive with an American multinational corporation. I sometimes look back on my experiences living in a society based on racial segregation and oppression in much the same way as I imagine German children of the Nazi era must have done. I was conscious - even at a very young age - that there was something dreadfully wrong with a society based on such principles. Are there twinges of guilt lingering in my subconscious from that experience? Possibly. But I am also, as a result, steadfastly determined to reject bigotry and racial, religious, sexual, and class prejudices wherever I may find them.

    In that time I also came to develop a deep abiding love for Africa. The smell, full of heat, spicy, mysterious, and entrancing when you get off an airplane in Mombasa or Durban is something to behold. So too is the awe-inspiring beauty of the landscape. The majesty of the Rift Valley. The haunting beauty of the Drakensberg. The arid vastness of the Karoo.

    And its peoples. The quiet dignity and wisdom of the Masai and the Xhosa. The harmonic and rhythmic traditions of the Zulu. And, in their way, the doughy professionalism and dogged determination of the Afrikaner.

    But most of all it was Africa's animals that entranced me. The geckos that scampered across the ceiling of my Umhlanga Rocks hotel room. The jackal that slinked so gracefully through the grasses of the savanna. The ominous whoop-whoop of hyenas that percolated through the walls of my rondavel at night.

    I was very fortunate that my parents made the most of our time in Africa. Rather than hobnobbing with the nabobs of Johannesburg and Sandton society, they took our family to experience the wonders of Africa its own self. The waterholes of Kruger Park and Wankie Game Reserve. We saw the glories of Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls mere weeks from the time a Canadian teenager was shot and killed by gunfire coming from the Zambian side.

    Beautiful as the African savanna is, one lesson that is indelibly etched upon my consciousness is this: It is brutal place. With a foundation built upon violence, blood and death. The majestic lion and the sleek leopard have no compunction in bringing down the most adorable zebra foal or impala faun. And once the top level predators had the fill, it was left to the scavengers, the hyenas and the vultures, the dung beetles and the maggots, the ants and the microscopic bacteria themselves to clean up the rest. In the course of a couple of days one could see the most magnificent Cape Buffalo or tiniest duiker reduced to little more than a patch of dented grass.

    Cecil the Lion lived a great life. He apparently sired dozens, if not hundreds, of cubs. And if you consider that lions must mate at least three thousand times for each cub that makes it to maturity, he enjoyed more than his fair share of carnal delights.

    I compare the life Cecil lived with that of his brother lions in captivity. Pacing endlessly back and forth in a concrete enclosure measured in meters. His children euthanized or sold and shipped halfway across the globe to endure a similar life of imprisonment or scientific study. Tolerating the gazes and taunts of mere humans. Eating horsemeat tossed into his cage. Versus the majestic life of freedom and dignity that Cecil lived?

    I'd pick Cecil's life every time. Even if it meant ending, as all lives on the savanna do, in pain, violence and gore. Cecil lived a life worth living. Full of dignity, pride, and struggle.

    And if Cecil, in his death, contributes in some way to the preservation of his species. Of the glory and the wonder that is his habitat. If his death spurs us all to do more to protect and preserve the irreplaceable bounty of the African ecosystem that gave birth to him?

    That was a life. That was a life worth celebrating. And it was one where the details of the Minnesota dentist who shot him down are irrelevant.
  2. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  3. aaronvan Suspended


    Dec 21, 2011
    República Cascadia
    Africa can be amazingly resilient. Twenty year after the genocide, Rwanda is the high-tech hub of central Africa.
  4. Desertrat macrumors newbie

    Jul 4, 2003
    Terlingua, Texas
    vrDrew, your views on wildlife parallel those of almost all the hunters I've ever known or who have written on the subject.

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