Cecil the lion story inspires dialogue

Daily Editorial Board

In a story that sparked international outrage, Twin Cities dentist Walter Palmer recently admitted to killing a prized lion in Zimbabwe. 
 
Cecil the lion lived in Hwange National Park and enjoyed protected status within its borders. Popular among tourists and wildlife researchers alike, he was lured beyond the park’s borders and killed in early July. 
 
Palmer has stated that, to his knowledge, he performed his hunt within legal parameters. However, Zimbabwe’s wildlife minister has announced that the country will seek to extradite Palmer for trial. Additionally, the president of the Safari Operators Association in Zimbabwe recently stated that Palmer’s safari guide was operating without the
correct hunting licenses and permits. 
 
Although Cecil’s story has attracted interest worldwide, some critics have argued that the American public should spend its energy helping the people of Zimbabwe rather than mourning a single lion. 
 
Arguments like this overlook the fact that attention to one issue does not necessarily mean disregard for another. Rather than criticize people for the passion they feel, we think it would be better to dedicate our efforts to putting that passion to meaningful use.
 
The conversation should broaden from Cecil to poaching at large and then from poaching to the socioeconomic conditions that nurture it. One lion’s death does not need to distract the public’s attention from other issues. Rather, if we can maintain interest in Cecil’s story, the grief and outrage over his death can be an inspiration to address a range of interrelated problems in Zimbabwe.