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Friday, July 31, 2015

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

30 comments:

  1. These are really CRIMES AGAIST HUMANITY. If govts. of the world turn a blind eye on these dastardly crimes of inhuman men loaded with money there will be no animals in the wild to be enjoyed or studied by future generations. Governments should take meaningful action without paying lip service only.

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  2. Thanks for doing this, John Marriott. I shall try to follow your lead.

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  3. Very well written and I will share. I agree with you 110% . Thank you

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  4. Amen! Someone should hunt him down. Just saying.

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    1. I agree with the article however not sure how this directly helps those two orphaned bear cubs. That Dentist should have to pay for their lifetime care for killing Cecil. There should be consequences for killing God's creatures for sport. Incidentally I do not agree with the Mother Grizzly being killed. She was simply protecting herself and her cubs.

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  5. Very well written John. I have to ask myself why is there the compassionate people of wildlife and those that are so hardened that they have no feeling and assume that an animals is just an inanimate object that they can take their lives for pleasure. With out getting into the history of the world it seems these guys have never got burnt in a way to know what an animals felt like so they think with their head instead of their heart. This is the way history has taught them. A warning to all those killers out there as you move to higher level of understanding you will be burnt at some time to learn that their is another side of your actions. Some call it Karma. You can not just take something's life with out some ripple effect.

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  6. Well said. I'm not sure what it's going to take to get our governments to listen to us! We have never "managed" wild life, because we are not capable of it. So lets leave spaces for them to live like they should be able to, and nature will find a balance if left alone.

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  7. Thank you for speaking out about Cecil, grizzlies and trophy hunting. I follow your beautiful photography. I am in awe of your ability to capture these majestic animals on film. I hope that one day we will be able to put an end to trophy hunting altogether and any and all harm man wreaks against God's creatures.

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  8. Very well written...and its the feelings many of us share. Perhaps Cecil wont have died in vain and perhaps some good shall come of this

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  9. I think Stephen Herrero said it best when he suggested grizzly bears should be able to die of old age. Obviously it goes for other species as well, but presently in the world it seems to be less and less likely for large carnivores and species such as the rhino and elephant, despite the best efforts of people to deal with poaching and other assaults on wildlife. Maybe the venomous response by so many to the death of Cecil by Walter Palmer is a sign that things are changing. Let's hope so.

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  10. Good point about tourism generating more $$ than killing. The tourism industry may not always be perfect, but at a core level it is generally based on spreading appreciation for our wild animals, alive and well in the wild, rather than killing. Rwanda is an excellent example of a country in Africa that has done well in reducing illegal poaching of the mountain gorillas and shifting towards helping the country and community with tourism dollars. I spent $750 US to spend an hour with these amazing animals in the wild back in May and was happy to spend every penny. Not only were they so cool to see, I know the money is going towards helping the community, gorilla conservation, and the country as a whole. I love seeing that! :)

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  11. and true for dolphins and whales in captivity as well!

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  12. Good stuff, John, and stuff I didn't know. And, I'm sending, sending, sending.

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  13. Hey John.....and everyone....do link to this :

    http://www.naturescapes.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=256780

    Ch.

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  14. I bet none of you eat meat! Unfortunate isolated case that is used by
    peta to further their cause. Shame on you!
    No one can justify this criminal event but come on...
    I bet you have not been stocked by a bear!

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  15. I eat lots of meat, wine guy. Note that this blog says nothing about putting an end to hunting for food. In fact, it says the opposite. Pay attention, please. And no, I have not been stalked by a bear, or by a human. Should we go kill all the humans just because one of them stalks and hurts you? See how idiotic that sounds?

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  16. Have another drink, wine guy. Stupid remark.

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  17. John you're not going to like what I say because you're a modest person - but you and the few like you out there are THE Martin Luther King of animals. Never apologize for what you and even your critics know is the right thing.

    Wine guy please explain your fear of bears and your insistence that they're out there 'stocking' (stalking) people?

    1,800,000 people spend 1 night or more in the back country of North America during the spring/summer/fall months. During a *bad* year there will be 3-4 bear attacks on those people, often because of a mere mistake, not because they were being stalked for food. Wake up and quit this belief that bears are some species of Land Shark.

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  18. Awesome post. John. Of course I agree with everything you say.

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  19. Palmer seems a psychopath, a serial killer of animals rather than humans. Perhaps killing large powerful animals, for no reason but for his own glorification, is more thrilling for him than murdering a human would be. Or, perhaps he kills animals because he can get away with it, until now.

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  20. My wife and I had the incredible opportunity to come across a grizzly this spring. He was alongside a quite road in Kananaskis Country grazing on dandelions and leaves. We stopped our vehicle within meters, of the bear, and he continued to mind his own business while giving us this gift of a private viewing. No other cars, no other people, just my wife taking pictures through the sunroof and me shooting pictures out the driver side window. He was aware of us but continued minding what he was doing. When he got bored with us and finished his lunch, he just walked off back into the forest. This was experience we will never forget. I guess my point is....these are incredible, peace loving animals and only interfere when they are interfered with. There is no need to take the life of any of these beautiful animals. Really, what is the point?

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  21. I like your article on this situation and bringing to light what goes on in our backyard. I like your straightforwardness. When I used to scuba for years, we dived the waters in Port Hardy, Campbell River and more always being protective of the underwater life. We shot only with our cameras capturing the beauty of life in the ocean. The local dive charters would not allow those who wanted to come up here to spearfish and kill our local favorite u/w water animals which by the way we had names for. I fully agree, support and will share your article as well as we'll send off an article to support the safety of our natural wildlife.

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  22. I'm with you there John and have writing to various government parties and soon to send to our local news paper.
    I was sickened and heart felt sad that anyone could be so stupid and ignorant. And for anyone to support this saying it helps with Africa's economy should be put on the block also. There are many more ways that we all have been helping and aiding Africa through donations for various needs, self support, etc. Palmer should not only be heavily fined but given jail time for the horrific slaughter of such a magnificent animal. And to mutilate this lion in such a fashion is sickening destroying one of Gods great creatures.
    When we lived in the north the only animals that were taken were for survival - the meat to feed, the skin to make clothing, the furs for blankets and rugs on cold floors - every part of the animal was used. To do otherwise was a crime.
    We just heard a law had been brought out, in 1900, to protect animals from such slaughters, especially those on the endangered list. I really hope our government and lawmakers will sit up and make sure this remains and punish those who did.
    WHAT A SHAME!!!!!

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  23. Keep up the good work John. We, as Canadians all have a part to play with our significant wildlife resources relative to other countries. I donate to Nature Conservancy of Canada and Canadian Wildlife Federation both of which have programs for big game wildlife.

    And the recurring revenues from eco-tourism, viewing and other sustainable commercial ventures will far exceed the numbers generated by big game trophy hunting.

    Had the pleasure of visiting Pack Creek, Admiralty Island Alaska for bear viewing. We saw 5 on our fly in trip and it was wonderful to see these magnificent animals foraging at peace in the sedge grass meadows. Pack Creek is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and despite some bear false charges (mothers with cubs) and bears walking close by (US Forest staff are armed but avoid shooting) there has been no serious incident in decades. We can coexist!
    Lorne

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  24. Keep up the good work John. We, as Canadians all have a part to play with our significant wildlife resources relative to other countries. I donate to Nature Conservancy of Canada and Canadian Wildlife Federation both of which have programs for big game wildlife.

    And the recurring revenues from eco-tourism, viewing and other sustainable commercial ventures will far exceed the numbers generated by big game trophy hunting.

    Had the pleasure of visiting Pack Creek, Admiralty Island Alaska for bear viewing. We saw 5 on our fly in trip and it was wonderful to see these magnificent animals foraging at peace in the sedge grass meadows. Pack Creek is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and despite some bear false charges (mothers with cubs) and bears walking close by (US Forest staff are armed but avoid shooting) there has been no serious incident in decades. We can coexist!

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  25. I would absolutely freak out if I heard of someone illegally (or legally for that matter) murdered a bear in Canada. It happens I know I sign every petition I can to try and get better protection for out wildlife, be it a bear in Canada or a lion, elephant, rhino, etc in Africa.
    If you want to shoot wildlife, use a camera. You can shoot the same animal everyday and get just as much satisfaction in reviewing the pictures you get. And you can share it with more people without shame.

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  26. I don't agree with killing God's magnificent creatures for sport. That Dentist should have to pay for the lifetime care of those orphaned bear cubs as consequences for killing Cecil the lion. I don't agree with the Mother Grizzly being euthanized for protecting herself and her cubs. Wild animals don't know if humans mean them harm. Or maybe after being hunted they think all humans are trying to kill them.

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