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Cecil the Lion: A Life Well Lived

Marquel, TPVs NYTimes Illogic Section correspondent, was trying to reach his bathroom using a serpentine approach, when he tripped and read that Outcry for Cecil the Lion Could Undercut Conservation Efforts. 

Trophy hunting, which has been viewed under a harsh public spotlight since the killing of Cecil, a lion in Zimbabwe, is part of a complex economy that is an effective method of conservation, many wildlife experts contend.

  • Marquel figured this had to do with the fact that these hunters are rich. And of course he was right. But the idea that saving lions depends on killing them had a certain perverse fascination.
  • “What do you mean saving them?” Asked Marquel, “You mean on the wall?”
“Well certainly,” said one expert, “you’ve got to shoot them if you’re going to stuff them, and you can’t save them without stuffing them.”
“But that just saves stuffed lions. Who wants that?” Marquel asked.
“You’d be surprised. Rich people want them. Do you know what Lion meat goes for? A hundred bucks and it’s tough. Rich people will pay $20,000 to shoot a lion. Taxes on that help us protect lions, catch poachers, keep them safe. Without hunters we couldn’t save the lions.” He said.
“Without hunters, you couldn’t kill the lions. This sounds like another version of burning the village to save it.” Marquel said.
“In a way it is. But it’s necessary.” He said.
“But that’s only because you’ve structured your economy around it. Why not have huge fines and life sentences for poachers. You might raise the money without having to kill a single animal. Why not ask the U.N. or PETA to fund you? Why not have huge taxes on photo safaris? Why do you immediately assume that only killing lions is the profitable way of saving them? It does smell of the absurd.” I said.
“But this works. We save them, we manage them, a few get stuffed. Lions die in the wild.” He said.
“Then why not collect them and give the heads to rich people for $20,000?” I asked.
“They like the thrill of the chase.” He said. “What thrill? What chase? I heard they had to push Cecil out of his preserve, then attract him with flashlights while that dentist sat in his blind drinking gin and tonics.” I said.
He sidled up to me and whispered.
“Don’t worry so much. You are of course right. But except for Cecil, a big mistake, all the lions they shoot we raise on farms. It’s like raising veal or steak. But don’t say a word of it.”
“Still, I never put a head on my wall after a good veal parm, and Lugers doesn’t even have heads. They give you a paper bag full of leftovers.” I noted.
“That would hardly decorate a wall.” He said.
“Actually, in my house, it would.” I observed.
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By MARQUEL: Cecil the Lion: A Life Well Lived

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