The Force of the Horse

Within the Dark Cloud of Cecil’s Murder Shines a Poignant Ray of Hope

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Co-Founder/President of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

courtesy of the

courtesy of the

For the past several days I have watched the internet and main stream media light up and go cosmic over the disgusting murder of a much revered wild lion named Cecil. Although sickened and angry over this act of arrogant, egotistical bloodshed I was amazed and caught off guard by the intensity and viral reaction to the death and murder of one animal while here in this country we can barely get a nod over the harassment, brutality, injury and even death rained down upon our own wild horses and burros.

For decades men born with no penises and tiny brains, or is that the other way around, have been ruthlessly hunting and killing Lions and Tigers and Bears and even our wild horses and burros. The difference is that in THIS country our federal government is doing the hunting and dishing out all of the misery.

So what makes this one lion different?

Why with all of the other news plaguing our cyberspace and air-waves does this one tragedy roar to the forefront?

What’s the deal?

…and then it occurred to me, “What difference does it make?”

This one gruesome act shocked and stunned me to the very depths of my soul and obviously it had a similar effect upon hundreds of thousands of others, if not millions. If this one death of a wild animal half way across the world lit up thousands of Americans then perhaps, just perhaps, their eyes are no longer closed to the fact that our own wildlife is under assault, not just from individual hunters but from the very government that is charged with protecting those that they demean. If the loss of Cecil accomplished that one, lone and singular feat then his death was by no means in vain; he lost his life so that others can live and in honor of his ill-fated sacrifice I will pledge to continue to push for the rightful salvation of all that is wild and all that is free.

Cecil, the world will miss you and yes, it is now a sadder place to live without your presence on that distant savanna but go in peace knowing that your message has been heard, your heritage will be preserved and that you are not going alone. We shall continue to fight for family, freedom and to keep all that is wild, wild.

There is an extremely large paw print on our collective hearts, this day.

34 replies »


    Triple B (Nevada) Horse Roundup Litigation (Cloud Foundation v. Jewell)
    SCI intervened to oppose a case brought by the Cloud Foundation to challenge the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to gather approximately 1,700 excess horses from the Triple B Complex Herd Management Area in eastern Nevada. Briefing before the District Court ended in September 2012.
    On March 26, 2013, the District Court ruled in favor of SCI and the BLM on all claims.
    The Cloud Foundation appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit. SCI was participating in the appeal. In 2014, this appeal was put on hold pending the resolution of the Twin Peaks wild horse appeal. After losing the Twin Peaks case, the horse advocates dismissed their appeal, putting an end to this case as well

    Significant Completed Cases and Area Impacted:
    Wild Horse and Burro Gathers – Western States

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for writing this R.T.
    Yes, I feel that paw print weighing heavily on my heart.
    Then I went to my shelter sites and saw all the pleas in the eyes of those desperate for another chance that will most likely never come.
    And now I have just finished looking at some pictures taken at one of the feedlots we try to rescue auction horses out of.
    The first few photos showed it full of horses of all shapes and sizes, young and old.
    The last showed it empty.
    They had all shipped.
    Add to that the BLM, factory farms, dairies, backyard breeders and the like and I wonder how our hearts aren’t totally crushed…
    how we are still able to live with all those different prints, be they padded or hooved, upon our hearts and still believe man will ever change is getting harder and harder to do.

    Liked by 1 person


    Calico: Past, Present & Future V
    May 26, 2010

    While it is generally accepted that the almost 100 now dead horses, 40 or more aborted and/or miscarried foals and dozens of injuries sustained by the Calico herds who DID suffer irreparable harm and injury had no legal voice in the matter, turns out, neither does any of the American citizens whom are shoved aside with the only rights still guaranteed is merely to act as witnesses to the decimation of our American herds – well, that and of course, to fund it.

    The ruling also reminded us that Judge Friedman found the Safari Club and Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) to have sufficient standing to sign on as defendants in the Calico case due to their “vested interests”.

    SCI Helps Win Victory in Nevada Wild Horse Roundup Case

    Washington, D.C. – Safari Club International (SCI) has successfully defended the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) efforts to manage destructive wild horses in northwest Nevada. Plaintiffs, including an animal rights group, had launched baseless attacks on BLM’s management practices in a federal lawsuit. On May 24, 2010 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, based on arguments provided by SCI, dismissed the lawsuit, finding that none of the plaintiffs had “standing” to sue.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Safari Club International has, along with other hunting clubs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the BLM. This is a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” type of partnership. They agree to work together to benefit each other.

      Liked by 1 person

      • When you read the language used by the BLM and TPWD, describing the damage done by wild burros the wording they use is nearly identical to the wording used by the Safari club when expressing their stance on wild burros. It is the same wording used by other orgs as well such as Nature Conservancy. These are hunting clubs that control the lands with specific species in mind, such as the bighorn sheep.


  4. I think about what the last hours of Cecil’s life must have been like for him…I think about the horses and burros that were taken off Twin Peaks, and what they might have been doing their last night on Earth as free-roaming animals.

    As much as I love my fellow humans, for the most part, I also wonder if there are plagues that might put us back in our place; we are so driven by the need to possess, we forget we aren’t the only ones who live here.

    We exist, as a wise Native American once said, somewhere between the mountain and the ant.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I couldn’t agree more. What society’s lacking is a moral compass. Children need to be taught ethics; ethics on the treatment of other people and animals. If the family is religious, they should teach the children that everything is a gift from God. If the family isn’t, they should remind them that we evolved from animals. Either way, we have a moral obligation to acknowledge and respect life of all sorts, human and non-human alike. The world would be a much better place if we all used our consciences as our guide.


  5. What a waste of lives trophy hunting is. Just think how much good could be done with all the money spent on it.
    These hunters are nothing but murderers really and have no compassion or morals.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve read some commentary and editorials with dismay, and it seems that people really do not get why people are so outraged – either it supposedly means if you care about brutalized animals, you don’t care about people or not to the proper degree (we can care about both), or that you should only care about people, or it means you don’t care about elephants, etc etc. What they don’t seem to get, or want to, is that Cecil represents many, many animals who are brutalized under the name of trophy hunting, our food, or considered disposable and expendable for any number of reasons by people who really should be classified as sick individuals. Instead, people with human qualities of empathy, compassion and mercy are classified as the ones who are the problem.

    We need to understand that lions and other animals will be extinct one day soon. A lion’s historic range was much, much larger than the small areas of today, all the way into the Middle East and Pakistan, and possibly Europe. I agree with the post above, a paradigm shift is emerging.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great article R.T. Mr. Palmer has such an Entitled Ego I’m sure along with his Safari Club members suffer from SMALL everything and you nailed it.
    This is truly the saddest massacre of a Beautiful Lion.


  8. Carrying an arrow in your body for 40 hours, fully paid for “entertainment”… no ethics, no pride, no humanity. No excuses.

    What would Pope Francis say?

    I hope Cecil haunts us all.


  9. Poacher Palmer and his cohorts’ much “loved” activities has to stop with this international outrage surrounding Cecil’s death. We need to know what our international agreements are and what our laws are regarding trophy hunting and importing remains of wild animals. We’ll see whether Zimbabwe prosecutes the guide, Bronkhorst, and the landowner while we do the same with Palmer – I sincerely hope we do not buckle to the power of the Safari Club. At the same time, the country of South Africa boasts lion farms where all kinds of lions are bred to be killed. Over 650 lions are killed as trophies yearly. This appeals to the paleos but has finally made the noise to be in front of the world. Why we haven’t succeeded doing the same with our beloved wild horses most likely stems from the power of vested interest. That’s reason to strive to continue trying to protect them with a multi-pronged approach.


    • Not defending anyone here but from what I have read Mr. Palmer was not poaching, he was on a legal, professionally-guided hunt. Whether he knew his guides lured Cecil from the park is unknown, as is his location when Cecil was baited out of a safe zone. Since a spotlight was mentioned one presumes it was done in darkness. Also unclear: if the guides even knew which lion they had lured out.

      Worst case, everyone knew Cecil and that he was illegally killed and died a horrifying death from a poor shot.

      Best case, a chain of tragic events but certainly illegal luring of a lion from the park. It may be only those with the bait vehicle knew this.

      Either way, a wrongful death. Consequences should be harsh for the guilty.

      Perhaps turn them loose in the night and issue a crossbow and spotlight to any interested “sports.” Those with poor eyesight should be given permit priority.


  10. I borrowed the book “Dominion” from the library – saw HFH article on it. Its not an “easy” read – and I’m not too far into it yet, but Safari Club is covered. Apparently, the author visited one of their get-togethers. As RT says – NO brains & VERY VERY Very tiny penises! There is no logic for the need to slaughter (oh by the way, they say HARVEST) animals. Lots of the same words used by the good old pro-slaughter boys (& girls) – so apparently they all have the same diseased opinion of animals. I wish this lion’s killing could make a difference, but people need to be focused on more than one animal – there are so many that are being abused & killed every day.


  11. Hunting for Horses?
    AUGUST 27, 2007

    Former big game management plans and introductions have rarely impacted livestock grazing or their allocations on public lands but have often resulted in devastating impacts to wild horse and burro allowable population levels – consider it the newest way wild horses and burros are being “hunted to extinction” in the West.

    Southern California’s last herd of 29 wild horses were zeroed out in 2004 to “protect” big horn sheep, the Clark Mountain burros along the Southern California/Nevada border, a documented 400-year old herd and one of the last remaining wild burro herds in the entire state of California, was also zeroed out this January. One of the major reasons cited as supporting the decision to eliminate them was the allocation of water for exclusive bighorn sheep use

    The controversial and historic Sheldon Refuge wild horses and burros are being targeted for unfair management practices in favor of valuable “native” hunting species

    you just look at the surface, it seems like a good idea. Why wouldn’t we want more big game species on public lands? They are beautiful to watch and hunting is a very popular past time for many Americans. But if one digs a little deeper, it becomes apparent, it’s not about wildlife, it’s about hunting revenue and lots of it!


  12. Although the wild horses and burros are on the front lines in this battle, this war must be extended to include ALL horses and burros in this country… After all, they are dying along side the wild ones all for greed, ignorance and try unamerican way. We cannot afford to be better specific but to fight for what is right and I’m sure that all would agree that no horse should die in a slaughter house. No animal should have to endure that horror. We must all stand together, not as separate cells and we must all so fighting and back biting because our power comes in our numbers. I personally stand for all horses and all burros whether wild or domestic. I am afraid that your ranges of west are on their way to becoming your western wasteland with the way things are going between the mining, fracking ad livestock organizations grazing the life of of them. Let’s not forget our own wildlife such as the wolves. This country is in big trouble at the hands of international trade as well. We’re a small cog in a giant wheel but we have to make a lot of noise, start a lot of sh t to make a dent in the mechanized destruction of this country. God help us all


  13. Wild Horses, Wildlife, Perception and Ignorance: A Time for Cultural Revolution Here Notes From the Cascades

    With many of us there exists no difference between spiritual practice, political action, animal advocacy, and our ongoing day to day life. One good example that I experience and see daily – Horse people tend to their horses, and those with heart and soul have time to also give toward saving horses. The same with many other groups of people

    If this realm, or culture, if all decided to gather together, the numbers alone of this particular sub-set or sub-culture could, and obviously should, become a power where people and animals become the priority, business and corporations secondary and support people-animals endeavors. Yes, revolution is this simple, and only when applied becomes Truly Revolutionary.

    What was clear for centuries past becomes very clear today. People contribute little to the animal world compared to what animals have contributed to our world, and in reality to our very environment (yet ignored often). Oddly, the disrespect toward animals currently generate suffering, horrific abuse, and death of so many species on a weekly basis that our culture, of ignorance, is placing our very existence into question for any type of future generations to even exist. All wildlife remains an essential element in our society, as well as environmental habitats.

    This exploitation even to the point of being hunted down and killed (Elk, deer, Cougar, Bear, et al.) – both legally and illegally, and numbers of availability based on false science and bad data gathering – Yes, we are facing many extinctions today of America’s wildlife, based on false reasons of capacity, and favored animals in the wild are nothing more nor less than a narrow scope of species, also to be hunted down and killed – ultimately to make trophies for those of ignorance to do so . . . This priority needs changed, and the quicker the better


  14. Sickness. When you are weaker than an animal you abuse….when you refuse to care to are narcissistic but when you kill innocence for sport you’ve no heart. With no heart you know no fear for what you have done wrong ..consequences dont exist in the their minds. The Heart of a lion does Not transfer his power and soul to the people who are powerless and soulless enough to bait and murder. The time on this Earth that I we waste abusing and destroying is the Equasion of time Infinite they will spend in Eternity being destroyed in kind. But what of this Earth? Losses like Cecil are tremendous. The reason You feel compelled by his story is you from Every corner of the World Could and Can still Feel The Heart of A Lion who in his own Right Loved and Respected US. It is possible to feel their light and strength if you are indeed compassionate. A man a of Great weakness took the life of one who possessed Great Strength and the Heart of the Lion rests in the People of the World today not within the coward that took his life away. The disguise of hunting is Worn by many. Some actually hunt for food and safety notably but like All things there are those Who deceit darkened Every thing. This is one of those Examples. This is Not a Hunter gone Bad this is Bad Hunter who didnt care about animals….Cecil…the World or even the people who hunt doing the Right thing. The Murder brings Shock and grief Yet Cecil took his paws to his Throne on High fit for only a King…a King of the Lions. May this man live a Life devoid of what he longs for most anyone who would do this wouldnt deserve their hearts desires anyway….he already proved he doesnt have one. As for Cecil……one day we humans wish to be worthy until then we apologize for not be able ensure your safety. Please Cecil accept my Deepest Apology for mans lack of dignity and responsibility.


  15. In my opinion, trophy hunting is an ego-based type of inner fulfillment that is empty and only lasts a short time. When they are feeling empty and need another “fix,” they go kill again. These folks really need to find inner fulfillment that lasts. I believe this can be obtained through kindness and compassion giving them grace and self-worth which will stay with them and sustain them. Of course, if they ever experience this, they will have a hard time forgiving themselves for what they have already done. These majestic animals are paying the price with their lives to fulfill something that cannot be fulfilled in this way (at least not for any length of time). Because this is a deficiency within one’s self, it is that person’s responsibility to correct. Based on this perspective, I would like to see all trophy hunting stopped completely as there is no justification. The noble horses and burros are suffering also due to the same ego-based fulfillment but in their case, that fulfillment comes from the monetary gain of those wanting them removed from their lands. All these animals have the same right to be here and utilize the resources as we think we do. I ask a higher power every day to step in and stop this insanity and if he that cannot be done, then make it so the animals feel nothing, no pain. I so wish I had an effective plan to change all of this.


  16. Because American media is censored and owned by the special interests plundering our public lands and wildlife. They deflect the light that may shine on their darkness and greed.


  17. I heard a local rancher at a recent BLM public meeting say that he knew how to take care of the wild horses and burros and that there were plenty of remote canyons where the evidence would never be found. The BLM employees at the meeting didn’t even contradict him or tell him what he was proposing was illegal. Not a peep out of BLM!


  18. “Canned Hunts”:
    This sort of killing for the sake of killing happens here in America all the time … if a person can afford to pay the big price for it. They even have a “club” to promote it. This is not a game … this is a HUMAN SICKNESS that causes pain and suffering and death for innocent animals.

    The Thrill of the Kill?

    A sweltering summer day forces a large lion under the shade of a drooping tree amidst a bucolic landscape. She pants from the heat unconcerned at the sight of an approaching man wearing a pristine white shirt and clean, khaki pants. He stops about 100 feet from the tree and animal. As the feline lies in the relaxing shade, the man raises a rifle pointed toward the drowsy animal. An unseen voice directs the lone gunman. He shoots once and the lion, wounded and disoriented, races from the shade of the tree. Only her cries of pain can be heard and her flailing limbs seen over the grass. The voice again directs the man to shoot again after seconds have elapsed as the creature struggles for life. The second shot finishes the job. The man nervously approaches the feline and butts her with his gun. He then gives thumbs-up to the camera, bends down and feels her coat…. The camera pans out to show a tall, chain-link fence.

    Although canned hunts are advertised as rugged, outdoor adventures, in reality they are conducted in an atmosphere of comfort and convenience. You can fly into a hunting preserve here in the United States, and after a gourmet dinner, you can spend the night in a luxurious hunting lodge. The next day, you’ll be given a high-powered rifle with a brief orientation to its use and driven to the “shooting area.” The area is usually a fenced enclosure from which there is no escape, ranging from a few square yards to several hundred acres, depending on how strenuous you want your hunt to be. The outcome is never really in doubt. In many cases, the hunting preserve will give a guarantee: “No kill, no pay.” Whether the area is large or small, the animals are either fenced in — so that they cannot escape and have no hiding place that is secret from the guide — or they have been habituated to eating at a feeding station at the same time every day for food. At many ranches, the same truck that brings dinner to the feeding stations also brings the hunters. Exotic animals bought from breeders are often accustomed to people feeding them and cleaning their cages, so they have no fear of humans. They are often surplus zoo animals or retired circus performers who are too habituated to humans or too old and arthritic to run away. The essentials are always the same regardless of the cost of the trip: an animal who is either fenced in, lured to feeding stations, or habituated to humans, and odds so heavily in the hunter’s favor that there is little risk of leaving without a trophy. Most canned hunts have taxidermists on site or on call to mount your trophy, whose fate was sealed the moment you made your reservation.


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