Less than two weeks after imposing a nationwide ban on big game hunting in response to the killing of the famous Cecil the lion, Zimbabwe has already lifted the ban, allowing hunters to continue killing exotic game.
NBC News reports that lion and other big-game hunting will resume in Zimbabwe starting today. “We are pleased to inform you that, following some useful discussions between operators and the relevant Zimbabwean authorities, the suspension has now been uplifted throughout the country,” a statement from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association reads.
The nation had banned such hunting for ten days in response to international outrage that an American dentist had killed a lion known as “Cecil” outside of Hwange National Park. The park where Cecil died will continue to impose its ban on big game hunters. The Zimbabwean government called illegal hunters who use territories where such practices are banned guilty of “economic sabotage.”
The outrage against Cecil’s killer has prompted dictator Robert Mugabe to call for the extradition of U.S. dentist Walter Palmer to Zimbabwe. “Our wildlife, all our animals, belong to us. They should not be shot with a gun or with an arrow,” Mugabe said in response to the death of Cecil, adding that Cecil “was yours to protect,” speaking to Zimbabwean citizens, “and he was there to protect you. He decried foreign “vandals” for attempting to “irregularly and illegally acquire part of these resources.”
Mugabe himself, however, has long been known to enjoy killing and eating endangered animals. On his 91st birthday, Mugabe threw a party in which “guests were fed a young elephant, and two buffaloes, two sables and five impalas were also donated to the president by a local landowner. He also threw in a lion and a crocodile to be stuffed as an extra gift for Mugabe.”
In addition to killing animals, Mugabe is widely considered the perpetrator of the Gukurahundi, a genocide when left up to 20,000 members of a Zimbabwean ethnic minority that did not support Mugabe as Prime Minister dead.
Nonetheless, Mugabe played the outrage card against the killing of Cecil to his benefit. The fellow communist nation of China has pledged to give Mugabe $2 million in resources to prevent illegal lion hunting in the future.
The outrage in the Western world over Cecil prompted a subsequent bout of confusion from native Zimbabweans. As author Goodwell Nzou explains in the New York Times:
When I turned on the news and discovered that the messages were about a lion killed by an American dentist, the village boy inside me instinctively cheered: One lion fewer to menace families like mine. […]
Did all those Americans signing petitions understand that lions actually kill people? That all the talk about Cecil being “beloved” or a “local favorite” was media hype? Did Jimmy Kimmel choke up because Cecil was murdered or because he confused him with Simba from “The Lion King”?