British Columbia

Cecil the lion's killer should be extradited, says Born Free CEO Will Travers

Born Free CEO Will Travers says Cecil the lion's killing has outraged so many people because of the way the lion was killed.

CEO says lion's killing has outraged many because of the way it was killed

Cecil the Lion, at his most majestic, surveying his domain. (Nature Encounter Tours & Travel Ltd/Carol Petersen)

The killing of Cecil the lion continues to spark outrage, and now Zimbabwe's Environment Minister Oppah Muchinguri wants the American dentist who killed the animal to be extradited to face charges.

It's something that Born Free Foundation CEO Will Travers supports.

"I think it would send an incredibly powerful message," he said on The Early Edition, adding it would deter other poachers and illegal trophy hunters.

Travers says Cecil's killing has outraged so many people because of the way the lion was killed.

He was allegedly lured out of a national park to a non-protected area and then shot by a bow and arrow, says Travers.

"He wasn't killed when he was shot with the first bow and arrow. It took 40 hours to follow up on him, so imagine the suffering," he says.

"But what it has done is it has made people question what's happening to lions, and the truth is lions are in serious trouble."

The lion population in Africa is down 20 per cent in the last 21 years, he says. Travers estimates there are perhaps only 25,000 lions left in Africa.

Wildlife in crisis

Over 600 lion trophies make their way out of Africa each year, says Travers, half of which go to North America — mainly to the U.S.

Will Travers, CEO of the Born Free Foundations, says an alleged crime has been committed on Zimbabwean soil by an American citizen, Walter Palmer, and he should be extradited to either prove his innocence or be held accountable. (CBC News)

Travers says that puts intense pressure on a dwindling population of lions.

Cecil's death has turned the focus on to wildlife in crisis, he says, particularly in places where there is poor regulation, corruption and poverty.

"This is focusing people's attention on the real issues," he says.

Trophy hunting in B.C.

The ethics of trophy hunting of big game such as grizzly bears, moose and elk, is often a topic of debate in B.C.

But hunters argue regulated trophy hunting can actually help manage wildlife effectively.

"The International Union for the Conservation of Nature feels strongly that trophy hunting is an effective part of conservation," said Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.

"The money raised by hunters, combined with their volunteer hours, help improve both the habitat and the species as a whole. I reject the notion that Mother Nature knows best."

Ellis also condemned the illegal killing of Cecil the lion, however.

The province issues hundreds of licenses for grizzly hunts every year.

It estimates there are roughly 15,000 grizzly bears in the province, but those numbers have been disputed by wildlife conservation groups and researchers fom SFU and the University of Victoria.

Travers says when it comes to threatened species, it's hard to justify trophy hunting.

"Trophy hunting is probably an activity that could have been accommodated and understood when large wide-open spaces still existed and animal populations were thriving," said Travers.

"With the size of the human population we have, Born Free and other organizations challenge the notion that trophy hunting plays any significant part at all in the conservation of endangered species and threatened species."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.