You would be forgiven for thinking that Zimbabwe would’ve revisited its policies on big game hunting following the worldwide uproar that followed the shooting of a lion christened ‘Cecil’. The subsequent ban, a request made by the government to the USA to have the shooter, Walter Palmer, extradited to answer for his crimes, and strong words of disapproval from President Robert Mugabe led us to the mistaken belief that other such important parts of “the country’s heritage” would never again meet their end for sport. Apparently, we were wrong.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks) said in a statement on Monday the suspension “has been lifted with immediate effect”.
Despite the ban having being lifted some restrictions remain in place, reported The Independent. All lion, leopard and elephant hunts will require written confirmation from the head of the parks authority and park staff must accompany each hunt. People caught engaging in illegal hunting will be “banned from hunting for life”, Zimparks warned, saying such hunters “tarnish the image of the hunting industry and their actions border on economic sabotage”.
This unbanning comes a day after the president condemned the killing of the famous lion which was also part of an Oxford University research project.
“Our wildlife, all our animals, belong to us. They should not be shot with a gun or with an arrow,” Mugabe told thousands of people who gathered at a shrine on the outskirts of the capital Harare to commemorate Heroes’ Day, “Even Cecil the lion is yours. He is dead but he was yours to protect and you failed to protect him”.
Palmer reportedly paid US$55,000 to shoot Cecil with a bow and arrow. Big game hunting clearly brings in revenues that far exceed the value of “protecting” our wildlife. if only our governments could be more upfront about it.