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article imageOp-Ed: Jericho is alive and well, but is the world's anger misplaced?

By Karen Graham     Aug 2, 2015 in World
The Internet was all abuzz Saturday night as an announcement went over the World Wide Web that Jericho, Cecil's brother had been killed by an illegal hunter. Almost immediately, the story was denounced as being untrue, and now we know Jericho is alive.
Jericho the lion's well-being was confirmed on Sunday after an Oxford University researcher monitoring the animal shared a photo of Jericho on the Internet, reports Time.
Oxford researcher Brent Stapelkamp has been tracking Jericho through the lion's GPS tag on his collar. Staplekamp used the university's Twitter account to publish Jericho's picture, showing him roaming his park habitat Sunday morning.
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Brent Staplekamp
The good news was tempered with a report that yet another American, Jan Casmir Sieski of Murrysville, Pa., had illegally killed a lion in Zimbabwe several months ago. Trevor Lane of the Bhejane Trust, a conservation group that works with the Hwange national park, told the Guardian Saturday night that the park was also investigating an illegal lion killing on July 2.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF) was the organization responsible for the erroneous reporting of the death of Jericho. The announcement was displayed on their Facebook page under the heading "Breaking News."
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ZCTF
ZCTF did post an apology, explaining "we were given 3 separate confirmed reports last night that is was Jericho. We could not reach the research station in Hwange to verify if Jericho was indeed alive after they reported that they were receiving a signal from his collar."
A lion of a different color
The facts of the story are finally coming out, and while first news reports were not exactly accurate, the gist of the story remains factual. First, is the relationship between Cecil and Jericho. They are not brothers. They oversaw two prides together, says Stapelkamp, and he ought to know. He added that in a statement from the wildlife authority, "the two lions were partners in a 'coalition' but were not related."
So with Jericho alive and well, we still have a worldwide furor over Walter Palmer, the dentist who admitted shooting and killing Cecil, the lion. The outrage of the global community over the killing of a protected animal is amazing, to say the least. It has resulted in cries for the dentist's extradition, his death, and even a 175,000 name petition being addressed to the White House, as if Obama can do anything about one man killing a lion.
Is our anger misplaced?
But I have been turning all these events over in my mind, wondering, finally, if we aren't misplacing our anger over the killing of a protected animal. Yes, Palmer killed an animal that had been "baited" and drawn out of his protected area. And I would bet Palmer paid for that baiting. If so, then he is just as responsible as the guides who were in charge of his hunt.
But there is more to this story. We have to remember that Zimbabwe allows the hunting of its wildlife. This pastime brings big dollars into the country and helps the economy. We may not like it, but it's a fact of life. In 2003, an audit on the Protection and Conservation of Wildlife by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism was presented to the Zimbabwe Parliament.
The audit found a plethora of inadequacies in the management, control and conservation of the country's wildlife, protected, endangered and those animals that were legal to hunt. The inadequacies included too low a level of scouts patrolling wildlife areas, poor gathering of intelligence information, with reliance on unproven facts by informers.
Additionally, there was little in the way of educating communities on the heritage of the country's wildlife, and there was a lack of coordination between management, conservation and research branches, to the extent, says the audit, that one branch didn't know what the other one was doing.
Does the audit sound like maybe the problem is with Zimbabwe's management of its wildlife? And the quotas that are allowed, according to the audit, are not being handled correctly, either. I don't know how many of you know this, but there are quotas on how many of what kind of animal may be hunted in a given year.
This helps private landowners and safari companies. A certain number of animals are allocated to a landowner and these animals can be hunted. At anywhere from a special safari price of $7,000 for a water buffalo to on up to $50,000 or more for a lion or an elephant. If "baiting is used to bring trophy animals onto a private landowners property, most of the time, the park scouts aren't around to catch anyone in the act.
African Sky safari company will let you shoot a trophy size elephant for only $42,000, and that includes all the amenities, except taxidermy fees and shipping the head home. But Luxury Hunts offers a 10-day special on a trophy lion hunt for $49,000, but the "baiting" fee is extra.
So my thoughts are mixed, but I believe we are directing our anger at the wrong party. Perhaps we should be looking at the broader picture of animal conservation, and not at the jerk who got caught red-handed with the lion's head.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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