Calgary

Cecil the lion 'not murdered,' says Alberta hunter

Had he not been shot by an American dentist, the Zimbabwe lion known as Cecil would have eventually been killed by other adult lions — a death, hunter Jeanette Hall, says would have lasted days.

'He was hunting, it's not murder. He was not killing a person," said Jeanette Hall

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      An Alberta woman who has trophy hunted in Africa says anyone who claims Cecil the lion was murdered — is mistaken.

      "The media has blown this thing completely out of proportion," said Jeanette Hall. "What they're calling 'murder' — I'm sorry, but he was hunting. It's not murder. He was not killing a person and when you're hunting an animal, that's not murder," she said.

      "They're using words like 'murder' and 'they lured him out of the park.' Actually, baiting is completely legal. Not only is it legal in Africa, it's also legal here in Alberta and it's a very effective means of bringing the animals out into the open where you can get a look at them and evaluate them to see if they are suitable for taking." 

      Hall is a taxidermist who was also a contender in the reality television show Extreme Huntress. She has travelled to Africa to hunt plains game such as zebra, kudu, birds and jackals. 

      She says once the animal hits the ground, African villagers show up and collect the meat.

      "It's very important to them. Nothing is wasted. Not even the bones; the bones are ground up and used as bone meal in gardens."

      American hunter not at fault

      Hall says the $50,000 fee paid by Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil in in early July, was not a bribe.

      "Most of that goes back into conservation efforts and pays for anti-poaching teams," she said. "People come to Alberta and they also pay these fees to hunt."

      Hall also says the professional Palmer hired in Africa is likely to blame. 

      "When you go to Africa, you are depending on these professional hunters to know the area that you are hunting in because obviously you do not know these areas," she said. "I honestly believe that the hunter is not at fault here, he had no idea where he was."
       

      In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. (Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit/Associated Press)

      ​A kinder death?

      Palmer is alleged to have injured the lion with his crossbow before tracking him for 40 hours and finishing him off with a gun. 

      "Unfortunately, sometimes, bad shots are made," said Hall. "You've got to honour that animal and you've got to get them and find them as fast as you can to put them down as quickly as possible."

      She says at the age of 13, Cecil was already extremely old for a lion.

      Had he not been shot by the American hunter, Hall says Cecil likely would have been the target of younger, stronger lions.

      "I don't know if you've ever watched on National Geographic, but the death he would have suffered from those other males would have lasted days. He would have been chewed on, attacked, eaten then he would have been picked on by other animals."

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