Update: August 27, 2021
New details have emerged about the man who reportedly killed 12-year-old lion Mopane on the outer border of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, a murder hauntingly similar to Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil in 2015. According to new reports, the parallels are even more disturbing than originally known. After Cecil’s death, Palmer was identified as a dentist in his 50s from the U.S.—and Mopane’s killer, according to the Daily Mail, is 46-year-old Phillip Smith, a physical therapist from the U.S. In 2018, it was revealed that Cecil reportedly suffered in agony for 10 hours after Palmer shot him with an arrow before he finally died. According to The Sun and other outlets, after Smith shot Mopane with a bow and arrow, the beloved lion also suffered before his death—for 24 hours.
The Daily Mail also reports that Smith lured Mopane from the park (where killing him would have been illegal) using an elephant carcass as bait. Palmer and his guides also reportedly lured Cecil out of the park with food, so as to shoot him on private property.
Keep scrolling to learn how you can help lions like Cecil and Mopane.
Originally published on August 15, 2021:
The world all but stopped spinning in July 2015 when news broke that Walter Palmer, an American dentist, had gunned down a beloved lion named Cecil after reportedly paying $50,000 USD to partake in a hunting expedition to Zimbabwe. The killing ignited international outrage, and caring souls took to Twitter and beyond to demand that Palmer’s gutless execution of Cecil not go unchecked. Now, six years on, a new lion killer is giving cowardly Palmer a run for his money: Earlier this month, a hunter reportedly shot and killed a well-known lion named Mopane (or Mopani) during a bow hunt on the outer border of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, the same area where Palmer apparently killed Cecil.
Breaking: Well known lion Mopani killed on the outskirts of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe https://t.co/F2P5GhTqAr
— Getaway Magazine (@GetawayMagazine) August 7, 2021
Mopane’s pride (or family unit) has apparently been left extremely vulnerable, as only two adult female lions and six others who are roughly 16 to 18 months old remain.
Trophy hunters and others who make a living selling “canned” hunting trips (in which hunters pay to kill native and exotic species) cling to the phony assertion that they kill animals in the name of “conservation” or, patronizingly, to “support natives.” But this lion killer and the “big game” safari that was likely hired showed zero respect for wildlife—the hunter’s sadistic pleasure in slaughtering a big cat with a high-powered weapon demonstrated only a lack of empathy for Mopane and his dependent pride members, who have since been left vulnerable.
“All wild animals are beloved by their own mates and infants, but to hunters like this overblown, over-privileged little man, who lack empathy, understanding, and respect for living creatures, they are merely targets to kill, decapitate, and hang up on a wall as a trophy,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in July 2015 following Cecil’s murder.
According to local wildlife photographer Drew Abrahamson, Mopane’s killing may have been facilitated by a bow hunt put on by Chattaronga Safaris, a South African company with reported ties to Big Game Safaris International, which in December apparently openly advertised an opportunity to murder Mopane. (Mopane’s killer reportedly may be South African.)
“The mighty mopani. He is one of the oldest and definitely most aggressive lion in our hunting block,” Big Game Safaris International reportedly wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post. “Do you want the chance to take a big free roaming lion? Book a hunt with us!”
PETA’s hardly surprised that safari companies in South Africa are still facilitating this cowards’ pastime. We recently revealed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s hidden connections to and investments in the trophy hunting industry.
BREAKING: PETA's exposed that #SouthAfrica's President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is lining his pockets through the killings of wildlife so trophy hunters can have a cheap thrill. These animals deserve protection, not exploitation. 😠
— PETA Asia (@PETAAsia) November 20, 2020
The footage uncovered that he has been quietly developing and expanding a trophy hunting property called Diepdrift—stocking it with animals from his own wildlife-breeding operation, Phala Phala—and that he owns a 50% stake in Tsala Hunting Safaris. The investigator recorded conversations in which Ramaphosa’s managers admitted that he shares equally in the profits from all hunts conducted through Tsala and spoke of the importance of concealing his involvement.
The footage above reveals how hunters shoot and kill elephants and other vulnerable animals in cold blood, often leaving them to die slowly and in agony, including a captive-bred lion resting under a tree. After being ambushed, shot, and wounded by a hunter, the lion roars and charges—it takes four more shots by the hunter and his guides to kill him.
While PETA applauds South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment for cracking down on captive-lion exploitation and encourages the department to do more for big cats, they must ban all trophy hunting in the country.
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