All Great Lions go to Heaven

©Joe Di Maggio

©Joe Di Maggio














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.

-Pete Thomas


©Brent Staplecamp

©Brent Staplecamp














You May Not Believe in God


©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

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.

©Joe DiMaggio

©JoAnne Kalish

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

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