Dr Eric Jensen is an internationally recognised expert on public engagement with wildlife. He is the author of From Conservation Education to Public Engagement: Research, Principles and Practice (Cambridge University Press).
Commenting on the latest developments from Zimbabwe in relation to the shooting of Cecil the lion, he said:
"The outpouring of criticism towards the American hunter who killed Cecil the lion and those who helped him in Zimbabwe is likely to be a much bigger penalty than he will face through the justice system. This widespread condemnation also has a broader value beyond this specific case, as it shows other would-be exotic animal hunters that this is not a socially acceptable behaviour in 2015. They can see that they will not get a positive response with people being impressed at their display of prowess, but rather a response of disgust and indignation.
"In the case of the hunting guide, it seems that the legal and regulatory structure around hunting in Zimbabwe may need to be shored up to align with the collective conscience of global publics who are horrified by the killing of this animal.
"On the other hand, the sustained media interest in the story of Cecil the lion seems at odds with the fact that this kind of exotic animal hunting has been going on for millennia. Journalists should ask themselves if there are other longstanding practices that they have for too long taken for granted."
Tom Frew – International Press Officer, University of Warwick
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