Many of us have already heard the tragic news of Cecil’s barbaric and brutal death, and violation of animal rights – the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks was shot by a bowhunter on July 1, 2015. It has been revealed that the hunter was a dentist from Minnesota who paid $55 000 for a hunting permit before shooting Cecil.

The hunter’s motivation will never make sense to us. We will never know what drives someone to kill an innocent animal – at least I’ll never understand. But perhaps the best way to honour Cecil’s beautiful life is for us to recognize that there’s serious work to be done – and changes that need to be made. It’s essential for us to better understand animal welfare and animal rights and raise awareness about issues such as poaching and illegal hunting.

What is Poaching?

Poaching refers to the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals. It usually occurs to an animal that has something considered of value – for example, fur or ivory.

The world’s leading conservation organization, World Wildlife (WWF), puts things into a bit perspective:

The world is dealing with an unprecedented spike in the illegal wildlife trade, threatening the overturn of decades of conservation gains. Ivory, estimated to weigh more than 23 metric tons – a figure representing 2,500 elephants – was seized in the 13 largest seizures of illegal ivory in 2011. Poaching threatens the last of our wild tigers that number as few as 3,200.

Poachers kill for one reason: profit. The adverse side effects are for local communities, the wildlife and the environment to bear. Wildlife crime is a severe problem, and we need to start taking action. Dangerous international networks run this crime, using and abusing wildlife and animals. Well-known examples of poaching include using elephants for ivory and tigers for their skin.

The best way to pay our respect to Cecil is by honouring his life. We can do that by becoming educated about the treatment of animals, animal rights and wildlife and by raising awareness so others can also learn about this important cause. So sign and share the petition in your circle to demand justice for Cecil.

The battle for animal rights doesn’t end here, though. It requires an understanding of the relationship we have (as humans) with wildlife and animals. We need to start by seeing ourselves as one with nature – in harmony with other creatures, rather than as a superior force in this world. This should be a moral obligation.

Cecil’s death and its tragedy will never be redeemed. However, I think we can use this moment as one that pushes us to become more compassionate towards our surroundings. Remember, poachers do what they do because of money – this often includes our fashion and cosmetic industries – and this means by boycotting products that harm animals in the process, we can demand a fashion industry that isn’t’ tainted with blood.

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Rest in peace, Cecil.