This past year’s heartbreaking death of “Cecil”, the Zimbabwe lion, caused an international outrage. Ironically, the film “Bambi” released in 1942, had a similar effect. Remember when Bambi’s mother was shot and killed by a hunter leaving the young fawn alone and vulnerable in the forest? It was as much a lurid cinema moment then as Cecil is today.
The Born Free foundation estimates that the number of lions in Africa has declined from 80,000 in 1980 to 25,000 today. And the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) estimates fewer than 20,000 lions currently remain.
Since 2008, I have been an apprentice guide on walking safaris in Zimbabwe and South Africa and have interacted with wildlife, people, farmers and hunters alike. Unfortunately Cecil was murdered, but the truth is that without legal hunting the chance of seeing lions or leopards or other exotic wildlife on safari will become an even rarer occurrence.
It is our responsibility to raise the awareness of people all across the world to the consequences of not addressing the issues confronting lions today. I have spent mornings and evenings tracking and viewing Cecil. My hope is that the sculpture of Cecil walking in his natural environment will be a reminder to all that without addressing the conservation of lions, this statue may be all that remains for future generations to see.
A portion of each “Cecil” sculpture sold will be donated to the School Orphanage in Dete, Zimbabwe, for the children’s art & school supplies.