Peter du Toit

Aug 023 min read

Cecil the Lion and the bigger picture

It has been really interesting to watch all the developments surrounding the poaching of this lion.

First off, before I get to sharing my views on the bigger picture of this incident, I would like to briefly discuss one of the side issues that has arisen around this event. Many people have expressed their dismay at why the death of this lion got so much publicity when there are other important issues playing themselves out that have not got anywhere near the same level of exposure. The best I have seen on this topic is from David Shiffman:

"Some activists (who I respect) associated with completely unrelated causes (which I support) have been complaining about the relative attention that Cecil the lion is receiving, which is not helpful. It’d be super great if everyone could knock off the “lots of people care about a dead lion but I haven’t personally observed them caring about a completely unrelated issue that I personally think is more important” nonsense. People are allowed to care about multiple things. People are allowed to care about different things than you. Threatened species conservation is an important thing. There are also other important things. And no one has ever won anyone over to their side by saying “you’re dumb for caring about the thing you care about, care about the thing I care about instead.”

Great point by Shiffman! (You can read his other insights on this issue here - thank you Mark Traphagen for the share)

The thing is, both human rights and animal rights are very important issues. Issues that require urgent attention. We should be celebrating wins on both fronts, both issues are two sides of the same coin!

Something new has happened though, and it's happened pretty quickly. More people than ever before have found a voice via social technologies. A few years ago it was the early adopters who were using Twitter and Facebook, now its gone mainstream - and it is having an effect.

In the case of the Cecil The Lion, the outpouring of emotion is getting politicians mobilised. Peoples opinions on trophy hunting is shaping legislation. (see Senators Introduce CECIL Act After Outcry Over Killed African Lion) Public opinion expressed online has caused airlines to make policy changes regarding shipping hunted trophies as cargo (see Airlines send SA trophy hunting industry into tailspin with cargo ban)

Here is the thing, we (the people) have found our voice - and we need to use it! Whether our interest is human or animal rights - and it is making a difference. Richard Jukes in his piece entitled Splat the rat: responding to the influence of social media on government policy made this observation:

"One only has to look at the litany of U-turns undertaken in the UK since 2010 to see this in action. From the ‘privatisation’ of forests to the pasty tax to the badger cull, there have been nearly 50 retreats or reverses since the Government was formed and nearly all of them have come about following digitally-led campaigns of opposition."

You have a voice and that voice is important. Are there issues that you feel strongly about - human or animal? Don't sit on the sidelines use your voice, become part of the conversation and effect change.

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