In Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," the animal population is almost completely extinct. Many companies have turned to creating artificial, mechanical animals for people to own, while owning a real life animal has become a status symbol. In our world today, it is hard to read this novel and imagine a world where most beloved animals are extinct. However, looking at the state of hunting and poaching in certain countries in Africa proves that humanity may be paving the road to a world without some of nature's most beautiful animals. Dick's novel may become science fact rather than science fiction.
By now, just about everyone has heard the story of Cecil. A beautiful, black maned lion in Zimbabwe, he was a favorite among tourists and wildlife experts, known for his docile behavior and beautiful stature. However, in early July, Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, thought it would be a good idea to pay $55,000 (more than the cost of my college education) to seek out and kill this beloved lion, simply for the sport of it. He shot Cecil with an arrow. The lion was then left to bleed for over 40 hours after running away, only to be found by the hunters and shot dead, his body skinned and dismembered. Palmer then left the body of the skinned and beheaded animal just outside the national park the big cat lived in.
While this story has gained international attention, and outrage can be heard around the world, stories like Cecil's are not all that uncommon in Africa. Wild animals are being hunted and killed every day, whether for sport or for profit. Just a few days ago, it was reported that only four Northern White Rhinos exist on the entire planet, after one died in a zoo in the Czech Republic from a ruptured cyst. While one may argue that this death has nothing to do with hunting, the fact that only four of these beautiful animals exist in the entire world is due to poaching. Rhinos have become so endangered due to their horns, many poachers finding these animals, killing them, and taking their horns to sell on the black market.
The same can be said for elephants. Incredibly intelligent and beautiful creatures, they are constantly hunted for their tusks. In a report by Aislinn Laing of the Telegraph, the elephant population in Tanzania that was once at a whopping 109,000 in 1976 dropped down to a sickeningly low number of just 13,084 in 2013. China's demand for ivory has caused many poachers to seek out these animals and kill them in large groups, completely decimating a once strong population.
Hunting for food is one thing, but hunting for sport is an incredibly cruel and wasteful act. When someone hunts a deer and uses its meat and hide for food and other products, they are at least using their kill. When a wild animal is killed and skinned, its dead body left on the ground to rot, that's a whole other issue.
The hunting of wild animals in Africa must stop. Huge populations of beautiful animals are becoming endangered, some very close to extinction, simply because some people like to display their dead bodies or horns on their wall, or use them as furniture. The death of Cecil is in no way positive, but the response gained by this mighty animal's death has brought hunting in Africa to the forefront of everyone's minds.
Something must be done for these animals in order to ensure their survival. The thought of living in a world with no big cats terrifies me. The thought of living in a world with no beautiful elephants roaming the grasslands makes me feel sick. The thought of living in a world where the last remaining animals have to be kept in cages, protected from humans, makes me want to weep. Let us not create the world Philip K. Dick envisioned. Let us protect nature's beauties. Let us turn our outrage at the death of Cecil into activism and action to protect the animals that make this world beautiful.