A lion has reportedly been killed by an American hunter after being lured out of the protected Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. If this all seems familiar, it is – in 2015 Cecil the lion was killed in the same area by an American dentist, Walter Palmer.
And now a male lion named Mopane was killed last week, close to the protected area and has once again sparked outrage from animal lovers across the world. The 12-year-old lion was allegedly lured out of the park using bait and then shot with a bow and arrow. Cecil had also been lured out by using a dead elephant.
It has not been confirmed if Mopane was killed with an arrow or a bullet, but he reportedly languished in pain for a full day before dying. It is unlikely that the hunter will be charged with anything since trophy killing is not a crime in Zimbabwe.
According to the news release from the Humane Society of the United States, Mopane had formed a coalition with male lion Sidhule, and the two males had a pride with two females and six cubs approximately 16 to 18 months of age. Tragically, Sidhule had become a target for trophy hunters and was killed in 2019.
“Mopane was a father and played a significant role in his pride. Without him, his pride is now vulnerable to takeover by another male or group of males, which may lead to the killing of the cubs and females in his pride. Yet, as with Cecil six years ago, the perverse pleasure some people derive from killing iconic animals brought this noble lion’s life to a tragic end.”Kitty Block, president and CEO of the HS of the US and CEO of Humane Society International
The American hunter has been the subject of a social media campaign, however his identity has not yet been confirmed. Online reports have alleged that Dennis Nyakane, a guide for South African hunting operator, Chattaronga Safaris, tracked Mopane along with Dinguzulu Safaris ZTA HOP 0257, the same operator for the Cecil the lion killing in 2015.
Block finds it shameful that the United States has the unsavory distinction of being the biggest importer of hunting trophies. These are wealthy hunters who spend tens of thousands of dollars for the thrill of killing. More than 1.26 million wildlife trophies have been imported into the United States between 2005 and 2014, averaging 126,000 trophies every year. In the years ranging from 2009 to 2018, 7,667 lion trophies were traded on the international market including the United States.
Under former President Trump, wildlife protections were rolled back and weakened the Endangered Species Act releasing guidelines and allowing hunters to bring back trophies including African lions and ivory from elephants into the United States. Wildlife officials in the United States have issued permits for lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Lions are currently listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. In West Africa, lions are classified as “critically endangered“.