What’s in a Name?
We live in a very small world. The speed with which information streams around our globe is bested only by the speed with which we get over the “outrage” of one “newsworthy” story, and onto the next. The news that’s gripping the Nation today, will be but a distant memory the second another juicy tid-bit comes across our news channel or Facebook wall. One of these stories that has much of the nation roaring(pun intended) recently, is that of “Cecil the Lion.”
Please do not mistake me for someone who doesn’t care, or doesn’t realize the grotesque nature of this act. The hunter, land owner and guides all need to be held accountable for their actions, no doubt about it. I simply find it strange that the poaching of a Lion on a continent half a world away, has created what appears to be more American outrage in 24 hours than a week of news coverage did on the attack of our Military Recruitment Offices, which claimed the lives of five HUMAN victims, right here at home… in Tennessee.
When I look at this phenomenon (of which this is not an isolated incident), it makes me think, “How could this be?” How does this event, where a wild animal who by his very DNA, would kill and eat you, garner so much attention and anger among the American population, when the cold-blooded murder of our own citizens does not? In my opinion, other than the blatant illegality of the hunt, it has a lot to do with the lion having a name. That’s right, the word “Cecil.”
From a very early point in our lives, at no fault of our own (I’ve done it with my kids), we start sharing the childhood joy of cartoon movies with our children. It’s a great way to spend time as a family, to laugh and remember when you watched these same movies as a kid, decades earlier. However, I believe that the “humanization” of the animals in these classics directly relates to the minds of many when events like the poaching of “Cecil the Lion” take place. I hear it all the time from the non-hunting population… “How could you kill Bambi like that?!” I can bet with near 100% certainty, that while reading the story of “Cecil the Lion’s” tragic death, many Americans unconscientiously had the image of Simba watching his father, Mufasa, being thrown off the cliff to his death in the movie The Lion King, running through their heads. The reality of losing a loved-one hits very close to home with most all Americans, so it’s easy to translate those “human” feelings to a real-life situation when an animal is senselessly poached.
This leads to situations being much more inflated in their public outrage than maybe they should be. Remember, very few species of animals actually mate for life (Canada Geese are one off the top of my head). Within a lion pride, the lioness actually has to defend the cubs from large males, as they’ll attempt to kill and eat the cubs. We subconsciously think things like, “oh, his mom and dad are going to be so sad,” and, “he had a group of cubs and a wife that now have to go on without him.” Quite simply…. No. “Cecil” likely never knew his dad, and his mother walked away to live her own life and birth more lions as soon as “Cecil” was old enough to make a go at it, alone. The “wives” of his litters immediately went into protection mode, because she’s a lion, that’s what she does… genetically. She protects the future survival of the Species. Let us not forget old “Cecil” himself. His instincts likely told his brain nothing more than, “sleep, mate, eat” (not necessarily in that order).
It is naïve of us to think that wild animals think and share the same emotions that we humans do. That’s what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, our ability to feel true emotion (and thumbs… thumbs set us apart too). When we impose the thought process onto other Species that they think and feel like we do, it helps to turn an unfortunate event into an all-out catastrophe. Remember, although the actions of these poachers are extremely unfortunate, there is, and always will be a place in our world for the humane, ethical and legal harvesting of wild animals. Hunting is a true method of conservation which helps support healthy wildlife populations all over the world. Hunters also donate more to Conservation Efforts than any other group. We aren’t all like the poachers of “Cecil,” and the Good Lord willing, we’ll continue to be given the right to prove that to the world.
Doc’s Deer Scents