You’ve all met Cecil

Hunting - image of Cecil the Lion at the Hwange National Park

Cecil the Lion; recognisable due to the dark streak in his mane

Now a bit of a celebrity among conservationists and animal lovers. Cecil was part of a study being run by Oxford University; which meant he was being monitored and wearing a tracking collar.

In July 2015 Cecil was lured out of his home in the Hwange National Park and shot with a bow and arrow. The culprit; an American dentist called Walter Palmer. Bad move, Walter.

The internet went mad. Many people called for Palmer’s arrest and the Zimbabwe government is trying to extradite him from the USA to face charges. Oh, and this happened;


When is hunting legal?

Ernest Hemingway with the dead corpse of a lion

Hunting is legal in many countries

Hunting lions in Zimbabwe is not actually illegal. In fact, they aren’t even a protected species. But hunters must have a permit issued by the government in order to hunt.

Reuters reports that the killing of Cecil was illegal because the land owner did not have a permit to hunt a lion. Palmer claims he thought the hunt was legal – and that he’d left the organising of permits to his guides. Palmer had paid £32,000 to go on a hunt. With that kind of money, you’d expect everything to be above board.

Poaching = illegal hunting

If you hear someone talking about poaching; they’re not talking eggs. Poaching is the term for hunting without the permission of whoever owns the land. Elephants are often targeted by poachers as their ivory tusks are very expensive.

So, if Palmer illegally killed Cecil the lion does that make him a poacher? Either way, he’s in big trouble.


Should we really blame hunters?

Delta Airlines Aeroplane - Hunting Cecil the Lion

Delta Airlines now ban the transportation of “trophies”

After all, Walter Palmer believed he was playing by the rules. If he’s telling the truth, then he didn’t know he was doing anything wrong. The people responsible are the governments which allow legal hunting, and also companies which make it easy for hunters to transport their prize home.

Campaign group Sum Of Us is pushing for airlines to ban the transportation of dead animals which belong to endangered species.

Their argument is simple – Hunters usually take the head, or even the whole body of their kill home as a prize. If the hunters can’t transport their prey home, then they will have less motivation to kill.


Join the Sum of Us campaign to ban the transport of endangered species

The campaign recently scored a win when airline company Delta, who announced they would ban transportation of lions along with other endangered species. This follows Emirates, United and American Airlines who made a similar announcement earlier this year. Yes most commercial airlines are involved. 


Can hunting actually help endangered species?

Image of a White Rhino, nearly extinct due to over-hunting

Did hunting save the White Rhino?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe warns that the African Lion could be extinct by 2050. It’s estimated there are only 20,000-32,000 African lions in existence – about 50% less than there were three decades ago. So why do some countries allow hunting?

When the White Rhino was nearly extinct at the start of the 20th century, landowners were encouraged to protect and breed them – then release them back into the wild. The landowners would then make money charging hunters for hunting permits. In this instance, it did help to boost the numbers of Rhinos… but at the end of the day, the animals were being bred to be killed.

Some also argue the money paid by big game hunters can be used to further help conservation. Animals will die eventually so why not let an older creature be killed – using the money to stop illegal poachers? The government can also regulate the amount of permits given out – controlling the number of animals which are killed.

Safari in Kenya

Would banning hunting lead to less tourism?

But does the money actually end up going towards stopping poachers? Countries like Namibia are good at showing where the money is used, others such as Zimbabwe are less transparent.

10% of Zimbabwe’s income is due to tourism. Without hunting, would this amount drop? Hunting permits are also sold for animals which aren’t endangered (think; zebras), meaning that in some cases the country selling the permit is getting money without losing a protected animal.

Win-win, right? Perhaps not, as either way animals end up being killed for sport.


The government has a choice; charge money for hunting permits, train rangers to catch poachers and use the money to protect the rest of the species. Or they can ban all hunting, which won’t really stop the poachers from trying.

It’s not all about money though. Every animal is part of the food chain – and removing animals for sport disrupts the chain – and this affects all the other animals. Killing Cecil the lion might mean that other endangered species might live a little longer (as Cecil is no longer around to eat them). However a recent study in Science Magazine shows how removing one link from the chain could cause big problems down the line. The loss of lions and other predators in an area could lead to a rise in the numbers of baboons. Baboons are known to spread into areas occupied by humans… bringing nasty parasites with them. So you see how it all connects?


How can we stop poaching?

Drones are being used to stop hunting by poachers

Drones may be the key to stopping poachers

Of course, not everyone agrees with the arguments above. So, apart from staying on the look out for poachers, are there other methods of stopping illegal hunting?

New technology might be the answer. Several park rangers are experimenting with drones. They are used to spot poachers –and so far it seems to work. Other research is looking into the patterns of where poaching occurs. Scientists will attempt to predict where the next incidents are likely to take place. Who said science is boring, huh?

Other conservationists are staining the tusks of Rhinos and Elephants. The dye is harmless to the animal, but makes humans become sick. This means the tusks are useless for medicine (what they are usually used for) and the number of hunted animals is decreasing.

Countries like Kenya and South Africa are taking the military option. However the risk of being caught doesn’t seem to stop poachers. When the number of rangers patrols increased, so did the number poachers. The poachers also started to bring AK-47s to protect themselves – and aren’t afraid to use them. Maybe it’s time for a new plan?


Hunting Explained? If we want hunting to stop, maybe we should question the governments who make it legal, rather than attacking a dentist who thought he was obeying the rules.


Today Armenians around the world mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, where around 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Turkish authorities. However US President Obama won’t actually use the word “genocide” when marking the atrocity. Find out why in the Armenian Genocide Explainer…




Armenian Genocide Explained

Armenian Genocide Explained: Where is Armenia?


A small country in the Middle East, Armenia is East of Turkey, and just above Iran.

Both Turkey and Armenia were once part of the Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire.





Genocide: “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” (Article Two of the UN convention 1948)


The Ottoman Empire was Muslim and was ruled as a Caliphate (a State where Islam is recognised as top law).

It was pretty massive: containing Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and parts of North Africa and many more.

Armenian Genocide Explained - Ottoman Empire

Armenian Genocide Explained – Ottoman Empire in 1913


Christians such as the Armenians were allowed to practice their own religion BUT were taxed more and were treated as second class citizens.

The Ottoman/Turkish Empire was one of the largest and longest lasting empires in history. However, come 1915 it had lost land, money and esteem: a shadow of its former glory. A political group of discontented army officers called the Young Turks took power of the remaining Ottoman Empire in 1908.

The Young Turks led Turkey into WWI on Germany’s side. Bad move. They lost a major battle against Russia in Sarikemish, right on the border between the Ottoman Empire and Russia. Armenian volunteers in the area fought alongside the Russians – against their Turkish rulers. Fearing Armenians across the whole of the Ottoman Empire would follow suit and side with the enemy the Young Turks decided to do something about it.


April 24th 1915:


In the Turkish capital city Constantinople (Now Istanbul) Ottoman or Turkish locals captured more than 200 members of the ethnic minority Armenian community. Most were killed and others were deported and their property seized. Starting as a way to neutralise potential political threats this was the start of a period of ethnic cleansing known as the Armenian Genocide.

When this finally ended a few years later over 1 million Armenians had been killed.

In 1922 the Ottoman empire was fully abolished and Turkey was recognised as a separate country. Armenia had less luck, and was absorbed by the Soviet Union (Think: Russia) until 1991 when Armenia was reinstated as its own independent country.





The death toll for the Armenian genocide is estimated 1-1.5 million. It was only a few years later, that the same amount of people died in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. Just to put things into perspective of course, the Armenian genocide was a big deal.

Of course, Auschwitz was just one camp, and in total 11 million people died in the Holocaust in WW2 – which may be why you’ve heard of it, and not the Armenian Genocide.

But it’s not just about numbers.

So why haven’t you heard about this? Because the majority of people accept the Holocaust as FACT whereas the Armenian Genocide still isn’t universally accepted. This is a fact too guys.





The Big Issue: Turkey still won’t own up. Yep, you heard that right. They say the killings were a regrettable consequence of the war, but that no systematic or planned genocide of Armenians took place.





They also say the number of dead is much lower, around 300,000 and that many Turks were killed in the conflict…

These claims clash with reports from the time – a New York Times report suggested that a “policy of extermination” was taking place.

And let’s not forget: Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, came up with the word “genocide” in a book about the Holocaust published in 1944. He previously had written about the events in Turkey and stated in a 1949 documentary that “genocide had happened so many times… first to the Armenians”

So the guy who came up with the word “genocide” considered the Armenian events a genocide, and yet…




US President Barack Obama will make a speech today marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

However, he will NOT actually say the word “genocide“. Instead he will use the term “Meds Yeghern” an Armenian term meaning “the great calamity”. Not quite the same thing…

Why won’t he use the word? Because only 20 countries have formally accepted the Armenian Genocide and the USA ain’t on that list. Neither is the UK.


Reasons to keep Turkey sweet: Turkey is a big ally to the US in the Middle East, assisting them in the fight against Islamic State. So Obama won’t be upsetting them by saying the word “Genocide” any time soon.

Same goes for the UK :  a leaked foreign office document from 1999 stated the UK relied so much on good relations with Turkey so would not recognise the genocide. Not dodgy at all…


Pope Francis caused international tensions when he used the word “genocide” to refer to the events


What do you think: Planned Genocide or Regrettable Casualty of War? Let us know..