Last July, the world was shocked to learn how Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer killed Zimbabwe’s beloved Cecil The Lion during an illegal hunting expedition. The details of Cecil’s slaughter were appalling. With the help of his hunting guides, Palmer used bait to lure Cecil out of Hwange National Park and then shot him with a crossbow. Palmer then stalked the wounded Cecil, as he lumbered on what became his death march. After following Cecil for approximately forty hours, Palmer shot him dead. When it was revealed that Cecil was one of the most cherished attractions at Hwange National Park and prized throughout Zimbabwe, Palmer was widely condemned for his actions. If there was a silver lining to Cecil’s murder, it was that it raised public awareness of these illegal hunting practices in which many wealthy Americans partake. Additionally, without Palmer’s actions, we might lack the perspective to understand why today’s news that an illegal hunter was killed by a South African lion has been viewed by many, especially the locals, as an act of karma, even though the incident is completely unrelated to what happened to Cecil.
According to the UK’s Daily Express, a lion recently attacked a group of five unlicensed hunters, on a private game farm just across the border from where Cecil was hunted down. The lion killed one of the hunters, twenty-four year-old Matome Mahlale, as well as two dogs who were with the group. According to local police spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto, Mahlale was “mauled to death,” by the lion, while his partners in crime scattered, with three climbing a tree for refuge and the fourth escaping the scene.
Among the locals, sympathies were overwhelmingly with the lion and not Mr. Mahlale. Echoing the sentiments of many residents of the local community, a local resident commented that there “won’t be many people feeling sorry for him. This is seen as poetic justice for the death of Cecil.”
It is likely that many who were outraged by the slaughter of Cecil will find themselves in harmony with the locals. They hopefully will not cheer the death of another human being, but they might understand how the locals can view this matter as a cosmic act of poetic justice for Cecil the lion. Moreover, they might hope this story saves other lions by serving as a cautionary tale for those who indulge in this illegal hunting practice. After-all, it appears that Walter James Palmer got off easy with only public condemnation.