I jumped in the car to take my dear friend Danny Multer out for dinner. His cat is relocating to Miami and Danny felt it was the right thing to to do to follow Minke. Danny was kind enough to gift me several old photographic books and a few glass plates that are amazing to play with. The Mexican beer was good, I won’t talk about the quality of food but the beer was good.
An immensely popular lion known as Cecil was killed recently outside of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, and authorities are trying to find the hunter said to have lured the animal beyond park boundaries before shooting him with a crossbow.
The 13-year-old black-maned lion, who wore a GPS collar and was part of an Oxford University research project, was found skinned on private property adjacent to the vast Africa wilderness preserve.
The death of Cecil, beloved by Hwange’s staff and its frequent visitors, cast a pall over the preserve, and left many stunned in disbelief.
Reads a comment from a frequent visitor on the Hwange National Park Facebook Page: “I am so saddened to hear about Cecil. I do hope that his murder is not in vain. Hopefully, the investigation will shine a light on the person who lured him out to kill him.”
Fueling the anger is that Cecil did not die immediately. The wounded lion was tracked for nearly two days after it was shot, and ultimately dispatched with a rifle.
According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the hunting party used an animal carcass to lure Cecil outside the park boundary. Because the cat wore a GPS collar, it was simple to trace its final movements.
Though many lions have been killed after being lured to legal hunting zones with bait, authorities maintain that this was an illegal hunt. They’ve arrested two men belonging to the hunting party, but are still seeking the trigger man.
The hunter, who reportedly paid about $55,000 to kill a trophy lion, was a member of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association, but that group stated viaFacebook that the hunter was “in violation of the ethics of ZPHGA,” and that his membership has been suspended.
Part of the statement reads, “The ZPHGA reiterates it will not tolerate any illegal hunting or any unethical practices by any of its members and their staff.”
Cecil had become accustomed to visitors in Hwange National Park. He was often spotted on the main road by visitors, and had become a park icon and its most photographed animal.
His loss leaves a void in his pride that will be filled by another male lion, and that could jeopardize the health of Cecil’s 12 cubs, as a new lion establishes his dominance over the pride. (New males often kill cubs to encourage the female to mate.)
While the investigation continues, the incident has reignited the debate about the wisdom of trophy hunting in general, but especially near protected wilderness areas.
I consider myself extremely lucky, and without plagiarizing Lou Gehrig, I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I’ve received 3 doctorate degrees over my years of traveling this blue marble they call the Earth. Another reason I consider myself very lucky is I have great friends. The majority of them are either scientists or artists, but all of them, to a man and a woman, are considerably smarter than I am. It’s a good thing to have highly intelligent friends because I never stop learning. What the hell does this have to do with God? When you look at a lion in the middle of the jungle, and you look into the lion’s eyes, it’s one of the most amazing visions you’ll ever see. The lion will look back at you, and you will feel terror, fear, love, and respect at the same time. But the majesty, the beauty, the strength, is off the charts. The lion didn’t get the name “King of the Beasts” because it was a flea. I would like to share with you a few photographs.
Under normal circumstances, I would try not to judge my fellow man. But I’m going to make an exception on this low life piece of s*** who chose to wound a beautiful animal, and then take a half a day to kill it. If I could get my hands on him, I’d put an arrow to his thigh close to his groin, and watch him take a day to die. God forgive me for a bad thought. In case anybody hasn’t figured it out, we are killing this planet. Everyday, we’re killing this planet. There’s an old cliche, people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks, so in the interest of being open and above board, there was a period of time in the 70’s that I would fish for large game fish. Every ounce of those fish were eaten and nothing went to waste. The only reason that this even happened is because I was filming for Sports Illustrated, HBO, Discovery Channel, etc., etc., etc.. 99.9% of every fish I caught was tagged and released. For the record today, if I go fishing, I fish with a camera only.
To all the ships at sea,
I remember the first time I heard the expression, “It’s not my first rodeo.” Well a few years ago, when I shot my first rodeo, I told the head Wrangler, “This is my first rodeo,” he thought that was pretty funny. I will share this with you, I am totally petrified of horses. The same way I’m petrified of skiing. When I was 16 years old, never on skis, I was taken to the top of Terry Peak South Dakota Mountain, and put on the solid ice expert trail. About an hour later, bruised, battered, and bleeding, I walked into the Chalet… get the idea? Same year, two friends took me horseback riding, sneakers, no socks. Some people just never learn. I think I still have the scars on my ankles. Galloping before I could walk, maybe that’s my life story.
For our rodeo on Saturday, we had light rain. I love shooting in the rain, whether it’s in Manhattan, Big Sur, or a Rodeo. It really adds another dimension, a forth dimension, very very cool. Basic rule of thumb; much higher ISO. It was almost the longest day of the year, but 7:00 it was 0 dark thirty. I kicked my ISO up to 3200, shot with my 200 mm f/1.8 (which looks like it went through Afghanistan twice, but it’s sharp as a tack), paired it with a 5d Mark lll, which is a well sealed camera, and tried to keep my shutter speed up to 1/1500 at f/2.0. You can see the results below, very shallow depth of field, but stopped the action quite well. I very rarely shoot on continuous, but with rodeo, I make an exception. Traditionally I shoot a lot of verticals, in rodeo, a lot of horizontals. Bagged the camera (hermetically sealed with a white garbage bag). My team members had a great time, everybody had a great time, and thank God none of the cowboys got hurt, and all of the animals were fine as well. Life is good. As my friend Willie Nelson would say, “I’ll see you on the road again.”
On July 18th. See link below.