Twisted logic behind lion hunts

Story highlights

  • Cecil the lion, a major tourist attraction, was killed in Zimbabwe
  • Jeff Flocken: Lions aren't the only imperiled species hunted for sport

Jeff Flocken is North American Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)The brutal killing of Cecil the Lion has rightly drawn outrage from around the world. Reports say that this local celebrity and dominant male of his pride was lured with food out of a Zimbabwe national park, only to be struck by an arrow shot from the bow of a Minnesota dentist who paid nearly $50,000 for the hunt. Tragically, Cecil's suffering did not end there. It is reported that, over the next 40 hours, Cecil was pursued and eventually shot in the head, skinned and decapitated.

Cecil's death is not an anomaly, but rather part of an all-too-common trend that is contributing to the decline of lion populations: trophy hunting. In the face of such hunting -- and other significant threats including habitat loss, and retaliatory killings -- African lion populations have declined by 60% over the past 30 years. As few as 32,000 lions remain in the wild today, and some scientists say the number could be much lower. With such rapidly dwindling numbers, individual lions like Cecil matter.
Jeff Flocken