What Cecil the Lion should teach us all about wildlife

Ollie Banks’ father Ron has become the giving back ‘champion’ for Solo Expenses. We’ve invited him to write our series of blogs on how we care for the planet and the people and things living on it. At Solo Expenses we think it’s important for all of us to do that, and in his second blog, Ron drives the point home with alarming clarity – and a worrying prediction.

It’s a few weeks ago now that Cecil the lion was shot, but at the time I was incensed by it. Since then I’ve found I’m less angry about that, but angrier about the whole question of disregard for wildlife.

I was at a loss at the time to understand what pleasure anyone would take in killing something else for the perceived pleasure of killing it, and my understanding of that hasn’t grown since then.

But what I have thought about is the cultural divide; of the way that what’s acceptable, or even normal, in one culture is so abhorrent in another.

Role of the CITES convention
Almost 200 countries are members of Cites, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. That’s the organisation that seeks to stand up for nature. The rules are vigorous; it’s illegal to trade in ivory from any elephant killed after 1947 – but that doesn’t stop people killing elephants for their tusks. And as long as the trade, now driven underground, one supposes, continues, the number of elephants will be reduced until there are none left at all. And that would be a real shame, especially for elephants, but also for mankind. I have one grandchild, and another on the way. I’d hate them to grow up in a world without elephants.

But equally, I’m filled with sadness that they should have to grow up in a world without any species that was alive when I was their age. And that’s already happening, and we’re all a little bit guilty because of our lifestyle, which causes marginalisation of wildlife through destruction of habitat. For example, when were sparrows last common in London? What do bees live on, with increasing acres of monoculture in the countryside and increasing acres of block paving and decking in urban gardens?

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World Wide Fund for Nature

That’s why I’m so fond of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which is supported by Solo Expenses, who have been kind enough to offer me this platform to talk about our joint responsibility to give something back to the planet. They do it by giving some of their profits to a range of causes, the WWF amongst them.

Since 1961 the organisation has been trying to make us stop and think what we’re doing to the planet by taking a stand on behalf of lions, tigers, elephants, whales and Adelie penguins, to name but a few. It is trying to protect the Amazon from illegal logging and mining, activity that pressurises all kinds of other animals through habitat destruction. Even the plants themselves are under threat. It’s also working hard on climate change.

How long will it be, I wonder, before the animal it needs to protect because of habitat destruction is Mankind itself? Is the world a poorer place because someone killed a lion in a patently unequal contest? I think it is, because the shooting of a lion is part of a trend that may well pull the trigger on our own species, and I think it’s time we woke up to that fact.