The loss of Cecil, a 13-year-old "protected” lion who was senselessly slaughtered and skinned, is not only a universal loss, but a personal one for us at Anastasia Photo. The gallery endows all its exhibitions with a related philanthropic organization. In September 2013 we paired our Michael "Nick" Nichols show with Brent Stapelkamp's Long Shields Lion Guardians Organization.
We began our relationship as a supporter of Brent Stapelkamp helping him to purchase equipment for his organization. Brent has been a researcher and supervisor of Cecil since 2008. As this murder has struck us for both its horrendous and unethical approach as well as its personal connection, we wanted to take the opportunity to both raise attention to the wider situation as well as offer an opportunity for those interested in engaging further.
Cecil's murder was not an isolated incident. More than 500 lions were legally killed last year, out of an estimated remaining 30,000 wild lions worldwide. When a male lion is killed, his entire family is put in danger, which often results in another five to twelve lion deaths. Lions are on track to be rapidly extinct, and despite their quickly dwindling numbers, lions remain unrecognized in international funds protecting against endangered species.
Cecil's death is an opportunity for the international community to take note and take action. While lion hunting unfortunately remains largely legal, it is by no means ethical. When American dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil, he claimed he believed to be acting within the rules of the law. After all, he paid roughly $50,000 for an almost guaranteed killing of his trophy prize - yet there was no permit for the hunt, he illegally operated at night, and his team lured Cecil off protected land in order to evade legal sanctions. Unfortunately, lion hunting is big business for nearly risk-free and sure-fire results. Their
slaughter is carefully calculated, and those arranging the kill are able to reap in hundreds of thousands of dollars almost effortlessly.
We encourage you to educate yourselves on the ethical practice of lion hunting and the truly despicable acts that are being taken continuously against lions' depleting population.
Concerned readers should urge the United States to recognize lions as "threatened" and stop trophy imports by writing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here. You can also donate to Born Free USA, who works tirelessly to bring animal rights to the surface of legislation, litigation and international education.