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Yes, Cecil's killer is a monster. But the lynch mob should turn their anger to action.

Cecil, we hardly knew you.

But here’s what we do know: We know the name of Walter Palmer, an American dentist, who was identified as the individual who killed beloved Cecil the lion earlier this month.

We know 13-year-old Cecil, a drawcard at Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe, was lured out of the grounds with the scent of food (reportedly a dead animal tied to a vehicle) into unprotected territory.

We know Palmer first shot Cecil with a crossbow, tracked him for approximately 40 hours then finished him off with a gun.

We know Cecil was beheaded, skinned and left to rot.

Image: Twitter

We also know that Palmer paid more than $50,000 to act out his fantasy and was aided and abetted by two Zimbabweans (Theo Bronchorst, a professional hunter, and Trymore Ndlovu, a farm owner) and that they attempted to destroy the GPS collar Cecil wore as part of the University of Oxford’s research program studying the decline in Africa’s lion population.

Animal rights activists were always going to be the first to condemn Palmer. They only have one temperature anyway: centre-of-the-sun hot (they wouldn’t be as fanatical about animal welfare if their passion was stone cold). But something about the murder of Cecil the lion has struck a chord with the public. The firestorm it ignited has been unprecedented with celebrities leading the chorus baying for Palmer’s blood.

We all acknowledge that Walter Palmer is Douchebag of the Week. But the intensity of the social media backlash hints there is something about this case of animal cruelty that transcends another Japanese trawler hunting whales or another season of baby seal clubbing.

“We all acknowledge that Walter Palmer is Douchebag of the Week.”

Palmer is being met with exponentially more vitriol than Kendall Jones and the Trumps (Eric and Donald, Jr.) who have in recent months been persecuted in the court of public opinion for boasting about their respective trophy hunts. Calls for Palmer to suffer the same fate as Cecil are commonplace and one detractor even left a card at his dental practice reading “ROT IN HELL”.

The act of killing an animal for sport is reprehensible, particularly when you are only afforded the opportunity if you have deep pockets – it’s another one of those things the middle class (and decent human beings) cannot fathom. The reaction has been so extraordinary, in some measure, because many consider game hunting not only inhumane but a coward’s sport. Where is the challenge, many would argue, in hunting an animal that never stood a chance to begin with? And is the thrill of that one shot worth ending the life of an innocent animal?

But killing an iconic animal is, in the eyes of many, unforgivable. The fact that the lion had a name (“Cecil”) endeared him to the masses. That, in itself, was reason enough for people to make their impassioned cries of “MURDER” heard.

And heard they were.

Cecil the Lion.

Bronchorst and Ndlovu were arrested on poaching charges but released on bail on Wednesday. They face up to 10 years imprisonment if found guilty. The hunter, however, has gone underground but cannot escape the lynch mob. Palmer has been savaged online, inundated with comments from people unleashing torrents of abuse and threats. His practice, River Bluff Dental in Minnesota, has gone into lockdown. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest even acknowledged that a petition demanding Palmer’s extradition had “reached the threshold” and would require a response from the White House. This is far from over.

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There’s something about animal cruelty that just gets us fired up.

The fury following the Four Corners investigation that aired in February about live baiting in the greyhound racing industry could not be contained. You could hear millions of fingers vehemently tapping away at keyboards and smartphone screens as we watched in horror at possums, piglets and rabbits screaming as they were torn to shreds on a merry-go-round of death.

Would we have even known that such cruel training practices even existed in the greyhound racing industry had it not been for Four Corners? And while the evidence was incriminating enough to hold those participating in such a barbaric act to account, would the domino effect of action taken in the wake of the investigation have been as swift and precise had it not been for the public outcry? I doubt it.

Twitter and Facebook have replaced street marches as symbols of people power.

Walter Palmer is not the first American hunter to attract vitriol. Kendall Jones did that earlier this year. (Post continues after gallery).

Justifying reactions is subjective. You can never know how much is too much. PETA’s response to have Palmer “hanged” was a little extreme for me but I would pay Newt Gingrich’s call to imprison everyone involved in Cecil’s death. To some, PETA are on the money; to others, Gingrich’s stance is too harsh. So where is the line?

If a reaction is enough to move those in positions of power to do something for the greater good, then surely it’s worth investing in.

The fall-out from Cecil has put the spotlight directly on confusing laws and conflicting regulations around trophy hunting. African countries including Zimbabwe and South Africa permit trophy hunting while others like Botswana and Zambia do not. It may surprise you that conservation groups like the the World Wide Fund for Nature support regulated hunting and under agreements like the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, hunting is sanctioned by some countries.

“Let’s be clear: Walter Palmer is a coward.”

Let’s be clear: Walter Palmer is a coward. In a statement, he claims to not have known that he was killing THE Cecil the lion, which means he would have been absolutely justified in killing another, much lesser lion. He also pointed the finger at his hunting companions, reasoning he “relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt”.

If the attention and reaction from Palmer’s murder of Cecil, however enraged it is, triggers a closer examination of trophy hunting, that is A Good Thing? Who knows whether the next step will be the tightening of regulations and laws?

We can only hope that one man’s disgusting act and the subsequent outrage can bring about some change for good.

What do you think the consequences for Cecil’s killer should be? 

Related content:

The American dentist who killed and skinned one of South Africa’s most famous lions.

Hunting isn’t about conservation. No matter what Kendall Jones says. It’s about killing.

She shot a giraffe and posed for a selfie. Now the internet is absolutely furious.