Cecil and Brutus: The Legacy of Cecil the Lion

For any of you that have been living under a rock for the past few days, it may come as a surprise to learn that the internet's latest sensation is not a Beiber or a Kardashian, but rather a Palmer. It seems while most of us were going on living normal lives and perhaps even doing good for our planet, an American dentist named Walter Palmer was off doing idiotic things in Africa, bribing local guides with $55,000 Ben Franklins for the chance to bow-hunt a protected male lion named Cecil.

Screenshot from www.cbc.ca

As it turned out, Cecil was probably the last lion on earth that Mr. Palmer should have pointed his moral-less compass at, as Cecil was one of the world's most famous, most photographed, and most known lions.

The uproar has been fast and furious, as well it should be when an animal of Cecil's stature is murdered. Palmer now finds himself at the center of one of the internet's greatest shaming campaigns of all time. His business is in trouble, his life is in tatters, he's in hiding, and he's sorry. Oh my, is he ever sorry. Mind you, he's not sorry that he killed a lion in the most gruesome of ways, he's just sorry that he killed a famous lion. And he's particularly sorry that his grievous actions have brought more attention on him than any of his previous egocentric activities ever had in the past.

And Cecil? Well, Cecil is dead. Killed to be a trophy hanging off this f**king you-know-what's wall to go along with an assortment of other heads of animals he's murdered around the world.

There has long been an argument in the guide-outfitting community internationally that the hard-earned dollars these great white hunters spend on trophy hunts of lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinos helps the local villages to survive, providing them with food and jobs and money for development projects, while at the same time furnishing conservation initiatives. The truth behind these arguments is startling: just three percent of those trophy hunting revenues ever reach the communities located near the hunting grounds.

The real value, it turns out, is in having these great animals like Cecil alive and part of a thriving ecosystem, so that they can truly bring in revenue to a local community, dollars that arrive over the lifetime of the animal in the form of tourist dollars. So while there is no shower of $55K at a time, there are thousands of dollars that flow in each year, adding up to far more than $55K and leaving the animal alive and well to foster new families, leaving a legacy behind in the wild for our children..

Which brings me to Brutus the Bear. Brutus lived for almost thirty years in the protected Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in British Columbia, Canada. What would the outcry have been if someone had discovered Brutus' mangled corpse with a bullet-hole in it? With an arrow sticking out of his shoulder?

Brutus the Bear lived for almost thirty years in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in British Columbia

There are 40-50 grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen. Approximately 400 bear viewers a year pay an average of $750 a day (for an average stay of three days) to get the chance to view Brutus and his brethren up close in the protected estuary, while another 5,000 a year pay $200 a day to view grizzlies in the greater inlet, which is also protected. So while a guide-outfitter like Prince Rupert's own Milligan's Outfitting might charge $15-20,000 for the rights for a dentist like Palmer to come shoot one of our bears like Brutus, the bears of the Khutzeymateen bring in direct ecotourism revenues of $1.9 million dollars annually, most of which goes right back into Prince Rupert and the surrounding communities. Guide-outfitters in the area would need to kill 95 grizzlies a year (comically impossible in a population of 40-50) to keep up revenue-wise, essentially cleaning out the Khutzeymateen and all the neighbouring inlets within a few years.

Yet the Khutzeymateen remains Canada's sole grizzly bear sanctuary. Outside of Alberta (which has a grizzly hunting ban in effect), fewer than 10% of Canada's grizzly bears live in protected areas. And even of the ones that do, like Brutus, most of them stray outside the protected areas during their lifetimes because our protected areas simply aren't big enough.

For the rest of those grizzlies that do not have the luxury of living in a protected area, they're at the mercy of sociopaths like Walter Palmer who pay to come up and assassinate our bears. And we continue to let our own resident hunters go out and slaughter our grizzlies, too.

Let's be clear about this: this is not hunting for food, it is hunting to kill for the sake of killing. These so-called hunters do it so they can go home and brag about how they stalked and killed a great bear (using a high-powered rifle from 400 meters away) and display its head up on their wall like some great trophy. Do it with a bowie knife and maybe then you're some kind of great hero, though even that would still beg the question, "Why do you need to kill a grizzly bear?"

Some of you may scoff at all of this and think that what happened to Cecil surely couldn't happen here in Canada. We've got a great conservation officer service throughout the provinces that keeps a handle on poachers, right? Think again. British Columbia's top hunting guide in the Guide-Outfitter's Association for 2015 was just found guilty of hunting a grizzly using bait. That's illegal. That's poaching. That's the guy who just won the most prestigious award as the top guide in the province.

It's time for more grizzly bear sanctuaries like the Khutzeymateen

The hunting community is running out of excuses standing up for this senseless slaughter. The grizzly bear hunt does not have a leg to stand on scientifically, economically, or ethically. It is time for it to come to an end, just as it is time for all trophy hunting of all species to come to an end.

We are better than this. We are better than Walter Palmer. It's time we started voting this way in our elections and getting governments in that will listen to the majority of us that want an end to trophy hunting forever.

It's time for more Khutzeymateens and more support for ecotourism worldwide. It's time for Cecil the Lion to leave a legacy that we can no longer ignore.

Fired up and want to do something tangible to help put an end to the grizzly bear hunt in British Columbia once and for all? Then please Share this post across your network of friends on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Twitter to help get the word out.  Donate to organizations fighting the hunt like Pacific Wild, Raincoast, or Bears Forever. Or Email our Canadian politicians: British Columbia Premier Christy Clark (premier@gov.bc.ca) and Steve Thomson, the Minister of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (steve.thomson.mla@leg.bc.ca) and send them this link along with your views on the trophy hunt. 

#CeciltheLion #bantrophyhunting

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