The news this week has been full of the awful killing of Cecil the  Lion in ZImbabwe. And rightly so.  I mean the lion was protected, and there is something horrible about deliberately going after something that was never intended to be killed.

That said, we are all responsible for killing on some scale every single day.  We kill spiders, moths, wasps, cockroaches… let alone the stuff that non-veggies eat.  Is there a difference?  Why are we so wound up about a single, albeit regal looking and legally protected, lion?

Partly because Cecil was protected.  Someone somewhere had decided that this old boy was worthy of protection, had put in motion the paperwork and maybe even by-laws, to keep him safe.  It was never intended to happen.

Partly because many of us are absolutely sick of seeing the rictus grins of people with high velocity weaponry standing, kneeling or crouching near their latest ‘kill.’  They don’t need to kill.  Rarely will they eat any part of the creature.  They simply skin and behead it (by now, mind you, the animal is past caring – we hope) and mount the ‘trophy’ on their walls.

‘Look,’ they say to their friends, ‘Look what I killed.’

I cannot imagine how you follow up a statement like that, but presumably somebody, somewhere, does, otherwise they wouldn’t do it.  Imagine if all their friends took one look, screamed, and ran out, yelling, ‘Murderer!’

I mean, they would probably stop doing it then.  Or at least, find different friends if they could. (The whole point of this scenario however, is that they couldn’t.)

Anyway, do you know what gets to me?  It’s the grin in those photos.  Safe in the knowledge that their gun/uzi/bren gun or whatever will take out anything within a two mile radius (and that if they won’t, then their trusty porter will probably give a hand) they are never at any risk.

Ah, you might be saying.  But Cecil was killed with a crossbow.  *sigh* Have you seen modern crossbows?  That’s not what William the Conqueror was using at the Battle of Hastings.  It’s like comparing a modern compound bow with an old fashioned long bow.  I mean, some of these things have sights built into them.  That’s how far away they shoot.  They need a telescope to even see their target.  And the kinetic (killing) energy they can deliver is terrifying.

They have a damn sight more chance of hitting their target than I do of killing a spider in the outside loo with a rolled up newspaper. (Not that I do that any more.  Since the discovery of ‘Spider Wars’ I just let the buggers fight it out amongst themselves). That said, Cecil’s killer only maimed the creature, having to finish him off with a gun almost two days later.  What a miserable end for a beautiful creature that, although certainly capable of killing dentists, didn’t.

The whole point of my post though is that in the past year I have come to realise that even the most humble creatures deserve a chance to live.  The eye of a newt or sting of a wasp is not something we actually have the right to take, any more than the head of Cecil the Lion.

Yes, in self protection or self preservation, of course we kill things – and occasionally people.  (And if you doubt  that I suggest you watch the film, Touching the Void.)    But otherwise, why not leave them alone, eh?

The world might be a considerably nicer place if we did.