Americans are outraged by the killing of a famous Zimbabwean lion, Cecil, by a small-town Minnesota dentist, who Zimbabwean officials said paid more than $50,000 to hunt big game in the country. Walter Palmer said in a statement to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he relied on "local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt" and had no idea that the lion he killed was a local celebrity. Americans are furious with Palmer, attacking him online and calling him a "monster." But he's definitely not the first American to go trophy hunting in Africa. Yes, he killed a well-known animal. But let's not forget about all the other wild and captive creatures killed by wealthy Americans who paid thousands of dollars for a big kill, including Donald Trump's sons, who went trophy hunting a few years ago.
For people with big budgets, Africa is the ultimate hunting ground. In 2012, photos of Trump's sons, Donald "Don" Jr. and Eric Trump, surfaced, showing the two men posing with multiple dead animals, including an elephant, a cheetah, a buffalo bull, and a crocodile, all of which they killed on a big-game hunt similar to Palmer's. The photos were originally posted on the website of the company that organized the trip to the Matetsi area of Zimbabwe.
At the time, Don and Eric were criticized for the hunt, but not nearly to the degree that Palmer is. Don defended their actions to critics on Twitter, saying, "I AM A HUNTER, I don't hide from that" and "I can assure you it was not wasteful. The villagers were so happy for the meat, which they don't often get to eat. Very grateful." Donald Trump told TMZ that he doesn't hunt, but that "anything they did was 100 percent OK in terms of the hunting community."
Big-game hunting is a huge business in Africa. According to Voice of America, the hunting industry in South Africa brings in 9,000 trophy hunters each year, 90 percent of whom are from the U.S. In 2012, foreign hunters spent $115 million in South Africa. Many hunters argue that captive hunting is meant to minimize illegal hunting, but Africa's lion population has plummeted from about 200,000 to 30,000 over the last century. It's counterproductive to make Palmer out to be a monster while ignoring the larger big-game industry and the others who participate in it. He's not the first American - and he won't be the last - to kill African game.