Cecil is not Alone. Turn Your Anger Into Action

I admit it. When I read the account of Cecil the lion’s untimely and insidious demise, I wanted to find Walt Palmer, and those who enabled him, and scratch their eyes out.

I wanted to scream when I read that they had baited him so they could lure Cecil out of a protected reserve and on to private property where Palmer shot him with a crossbow. I wanted to cry when I thought of that magnificent creature wounded and in pain for 40 hours while the men tracked him down and gleefully ended his life with bullet.

Morani in Kenya's Masai Mara

Morani, a beauty from Kenya’s Masai Mara

Yet I am buoyed by the fact that people around the world have taken this tragedy to heart and have raised their collective hands in outrage. I empathize with the hateful feelings that are being flung at Palmer online and elsewhere, but I wish everyone would stop now and use all those powerful emotions for more a productive end.

You see Cecil isn’t alone. He’s just more famous.

Every day lions are killed in Africa. Lions that deserve our respect and protection. Poachers, conflicts with local villagers, canned hunting and trophy hunters have helped in bring the total population down to a mere 30,000. (According to National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative, in 1940 that number was over 450,000.)


Two sweet females that were rolling with joy to be reunited after a long night

So hate Walt Palmer for what he’s done if you must, but it’s over. Cecil is gone. Lets focus on all the lions that need our help and maybe, in the end, Cecil’s death will have some meaning.

Here are some ways you can help

National Geographic “Big Cats” Initiative

High Five! Give $5. Save Big Cats.
Lions and other big cats need a lot more than that if they’re going to avoid going extinct in the wild, but it’s easier than you think to help them out.

Share the image below or your own high-five photo or video on social media and tag five friends with #5forBigCats.
Then donate here (or in the U.S., text “FIVE” to 50555) to give $5 to National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.”


World Conservation Research Unit (The team that monitored Cecil)

At the WildCRU, in the Recanati-Kaplan Centre at Oxford, we are studying lions in various parts of Africa to uncover the science that will inform and underpin their conservation. This is urgent, because lion numbers are precariously low, estimated at fewer than 30,000 across the continent and we have evidence that there are actually fewer. We have worked on the lions of Hwange National Park, with the support and collaboration of the excellent Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. Our goal is to understand the threats that lions face, and to use cutting-edge science to underpin solutions to those threats.
Donations can be made here.

Living with Lions

Living with Lions is a conservation research group of seven scientists and 34 Maasai warriors working in non-protected areas of Kenya to save the remaining wild lions and other predators outside National Parks. Make a donation here.


World Lion Day

You’re welcome to use this image in celebration of World Lion Day on August 10, 2015

Support World Lion Day on August 10, 2015.

World Lion Day is the first global campaign to celebrate the importance of the lion worldwide. Learn about events, how to get involved and who to support.

Below is a partial list. For more options click here:

Panthera – Project Leonardo

Panthera has brought together the world’s leading wild cat experts to direct and implement effective conservation strategies for the world’s largest and most endangered cats: lions, cheetahs, leopards, tigers, jaguars and snow leopards. Their approach to wild cat conservation is rooted in science and based upon decades of first hand field experience. For African lions Panthera envisions populations recovering to more than 30,000 individuals across at least 20 key lion conservation landscapes. Panthera are leaders in range-wide program to protect critical habitats and core populations connected by genetic and biological corridors, mitigating the threats of habitat loss and conversion, human-lion conflict, bushmeat poaching and excessive trophy hunting. For more information and how to support Panthera visit

Mara Naboisho Lion Project

Situated in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy of Kenya the MNLP are undertaking vital research upon the resident lion population in this joint conservancy. Kenya’s lions are dwindling by c. 100 animal every year due primarily to human-lion conflict. The Mara Naboisho is focused upon stakeholders and local communities working together to share benefits from nature based tourism which in turn contributes to wildlife conservation. Understanding and monitoring how these incentives are effecting the lion population is important for creating sound lion conservation management plans. For more information and how to support this program visit

Lion Guardians

Lion Guardians is a unique approach that relies on and preserves the cultural traditions of pastoralist communities while at the same time actively engaging warriors in protecting lions rather than killing them.  Lion Guardians monitor lion movements, warn pastoralists when lions are in the area, recover lost livestock, reinforce protective fencing and intervene to stop lion hunting parties, resulting in reduced livestock and losses and therefore the need to retaliate. More than 40 warriors are employed as Lion Guardians covering over 4,000 km² key wildlife habitat in Kenya’s Amboseli ecosystem as well as the Ruaha landscape of Tanzania. Lion killing in the Lion Guardians’ areas has been nearly eliminated and the Amboseli lion population is now growing, making this important ecosystem one of the few areas in Africa where lion numbers are on the rise. For more information and how to support this program visit: 

Ruaha Carnivore Project

The Ruaha Carnivore Project, part of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), aims to help develop effective conservation strategies for large carnivores in Tanzania’s remote Ruaha landscape. The area supports around 10% of Africa’s lions making it an extremely important conservation area however the population has been understudied. The project is working to gather baseline data on population numbers and ecology whilst working alongside local communities to reduce human-carnivore conflict. For more information and how to support this program visit

Desert Lion Conservation Project

Namibia supports a unique population of desert-adapted lions that survive in the harsh Namib Desert. The “Desert” lion is a prominent feature in Namibia and is highly valued, both aesthetically and financially, by the growing tourism industry. The Desert Lion Conservation project was started in 1998 with the aim to collect sound ecological data, address human-lion conflicts, and to develop a conservation strategy. Applied research and sound scientific data on lion movements and dispersal, and the ecological mechanisms that regulate the population are fundamental to this process. For more information and how to support this program visit: and contact


LionAid is a charity with a difference. Based in the UK they are working to create much needed conservation awareness surrounding the lion. They are actively urging the UK government and EU to ban the importation of lion trophies in a bid to reduce lion trophy hunting in Africa. They have approached the IUCN imploring them to list those lion populations of west and central Africa as ‘regionally endangered’ and are also working to have the lion listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Species to bring about further recognition of the species and protection. For more information and how to support this program visit


Information on the initiatives above was taken from each respective website.

29 replies »

  1. Their are many animals which are on the verge of extinction in a country like india. where tiger is the national animal, they have few left( tigers )because of hunting.Their a famous hero gets no punishment (salman khan ) for killing a deer because he had money to bribe the witness.

  2. Greatly appreciate your article … and the list of organizations. So many want to do something and this is a help. May trophy hunting be declared illegal! (All hunting could be done away with as far as I’m concerned.)
    Someone said: there has to be hunting to ‘keep things in balance’. Well … seems to me we humans have caused the imbalance …

    • I would agree Diane.. We tipped the ship a long time ago. They’ve just been trying to survive. Thank you for taking the time to check out the post. Hope you return. 🙂

  3. Hi Susan,
    I read your article – very thoughtful and inspiring. I am trying to make sense of what happened in recently and have a few questions that your knowledge might be able to clear up. With lions so endagered, why did the Zimbabwe government sell a $50,000 tag to begin with? What does the government do with that money? Doesn’t this country have any other means to make money! And if one lion costs $50,000US dollars to trophy hunt, then how many tags for not only lions, but also for other animals, does the Zimbabwe government administer per year? This makes my mind explode!

    • Hi Connie –
      I am no expert on Zimbabwe, but many African countries sell a select number of hunting permits at high prices to bring money into country–many of them are developing and money is not equally distributed leaving many desolate. Some argue that the permit money actually supports conservation, but I am highly skeptical on that account. I have no idea how many permits the Zim gov’t allows each year. Sorry about that.

  4. Great article! Fantastic information on all the groups helping to protect lions. And donated to Nat Geo for lions. Thank you.

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  6. Hi Susan, I agree with your view on the total focus being on this one man and his brutal act. Had Cecil not been so famous, there would have been little notice. There are far more insidious and Zimbabwe government caused and supported reasons for animal slaughter and the ability to transport animal parts across borders. Palmer was just one example of something that happens every day. The only thing one can hope for is that this senseless death of this beloved and beautiful lion will bring changes that will protect the non famous majority of all these precious animals. There was a fascinating article in TIME this morning you will find interesting “Who’s Really Responsible for the Killing of Zimbabwe’s Lions and Other Wildlife?” Before 2000, there was little/no market in animals in Zimbabwe. Big game animals were flourishing. The article details Mugabe’s “land reform” acts in 2000 and the destruction of property rights creating a disintegration of the economy and society leading to the marketing of animal parts to survive. Add this to the insatiable appetite of some countries for ivory and other animal parts and the suffering and death of animals become just a byproduct of greed and callousness. It’s never a simple answer. The fact that Cecil was famous and the killer an American has allowed the world to see this slaughter for when it is. May Cecil’s death not be in vain. thanks for the alternative view and suggestions for supporting change agents.

    • Thank YOU for your thoughtful commentary. I will check out the link asap. I did not see it. Crossing my fingers something positive and tangible will come out of all of this. At the very least, I would love it if the US Fish & Wildlife would finally declare lions endangered–which of course, they are. Until they do, it’s still legal for people like Palmer to bring home their trophy heads and skins. For those who need their prizes mounted in their homes, perhaps it would help to deter them a bit. Probably not a huge degree but every little bit helps.

  7. Well said, Susan. I, too, hope this is the tipping point needed to get changes made on behalf of wildlife. I’d love to see “trophies” banned from being imported to the states. But yes, due attention has been paid to Palmer, and I feel that he should be made to pay for this crime. But onward, and upward, for the lions and other wild beings who need our voices!

    • Exactly Sharon.. Palmer (and unfortunately his wife and kids) will be global outcasts for quite awhile, there’s no more to be done on that front. Hopefully people will see this post and others like it and take some time to get involved.

  8. Literally just talking about this horrible act as I saw this post. I’m just as outraged and hope there is some justice to be had. I love that you are focusing the anger in a positive way to give meaning to Cecil’s life. I will take your advice and do the same.

I would love to hear from you!

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