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Killing of Popular Lion Cecil Sparks Debate on Cultural Animal Conservation

Elephants are an endangered species due to poaching. The African Wildlife Foundation has committed $10 million through its Urgent Response Fund to stop poaching, wildlife trafficking and the demand for wildlife products.

The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe has sparked debate on ways of conserving wild animals with some critics saying local people have great ideas on culling game.

Cultural activists say Zimbabweans used to have various ways of controlling the indiscriminate killing of wild animals, including the use of totems.

However, some academics like Professor Peter Mundy of the National University of Science and Technology believe that such practices don’t work in preserving animals.

“I think although the totem is a very interesting issue, I think it’s not going to affect at all (the) or help the conservation of species,” said Professor Mundy.

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For perspective on the use of totems, VOA Studio 7 spoke to cultural activists Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu and Thandeko Zinti Mnkandla.

Ndlovu said totems have over the years played a key role in preserving animals.

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American doctor Walter Palmer killed Cecil the lion last month resulting in an international outcry over trophy hunting in Africa and other nations.

Over 200,000 people have so far filed a petition on the White House website demanding the extradition of Palmer to Zimbabwe while more than one million others are also calling for justice for Cecil and an end to trophy hunting on Care2 Petitions.

Zimbabwe says it has not yet formally filed papers for Palmer's extradition.