Open Letter to Walter Palmer, Murderer of Cecil the Lion

Dear Walter,

I didn’t know who Cecil was until his beautiful, majestic face appeared all over the Internet following the callous and sadistic manner by which you ended his precious life in Zimbabwe. My heart was broken. This beloved lion was simply living among his pride when you lured him out of the sanctuary, shot him with your bow and arrow and made him suffer for 40 hours, before ultimately killing and beheading him. I bet you felt immense satisfaction for accomplishing this cruel deed, to see this powerful creature, lying helpless and dead by your hand. Was it worth it?

By now you must have realized the gravity of the situation you willingly put yourself in. You paid big money, over $50K, to destroy not just the lion and his pride, but your own life. I’m sure you have experienced the wrath of animal lovers, spouting awful things that they wish to see done to you for your despicable act. I am not going to continue along those lines. You may be a narcissistic megalomaniac who can only  make himself feel better by killing innocent animals but, underneath it all, you are a sad, ignorant person in desperate need to prove something.

Did you know that lions are endangered? Whether the lion you shot was a beloved icon or just a plain old one rambling through the plains, it’s probably one of 20,000 that still remain in the wild. The number may seem large, but there was a time when more than 250,000 of these kings and queens of the jungle roamed the earth. Because of hunters like you, the illegal bushmeat trade, and habitat loss, the lion population has plummeted drastically over the past few decades. Despite conservation groups working tirelessly to protect these mighty beings, they are facing an uphill battle against wealthy trophy hunters and local guides desperate to make a living at the expense of animal suffering.

But all hope is not lost; The last lions can be saved. And you can be a part of it. You may have heard about Peter Benchley, the man who authored the bestselling novel Jaws that became the eponymous blockbuster movie. The film went on to becoming the single biggest threat to sharks. People around the world slaughtered millions of them out of fear. Peter regretted writing the book and the impact it had on shark populations. He dedicated the rest of his life to ocean conservation and to changing the image of these giant fish from one of fear to respect.

It’s not too late for you. You can redeem yourself by putting hunting behind you. You can use your resources to assist communities that are helping save the lion. You can donate to organizations like the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and Lion Guardians. You can use this global attention on you to pave the way to help other trophy hunters give up the sport.

It may not happen overnight, but you can do it. In fact, I urge you to try, for the sake of yourself, your family, and your two children. Let this experience be a catalyst for positive change by giving up your hunting ways and becoming more of a human.


Lavanya Sunkara

Published by Lavanya

Lavanya Sunkara is a writer, animal lover, and globetrotter based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Architectural Digest, Fodor’s, Forbes, USA Today and many more in a career spanning ten years. She covers travel, eco-lifestyle, culture, pets, and wildlife conservation.

6 thoughts on “Open Letter to Walter Palmer, Murderer of Cecil the Lion

  1. he won’t do nothing, because he belive that he did nothing wrong…it a shame ….

  2. Lavanya, your letter says it all very well. No, I do not wish some dire fate on this foolish man. I wish growth, wisdom, expansion of his heart to include his animal brothers.

  3. Lavanya, you put in words how most animal lovers feel. Your letter is perfect, thank you….

  4. You have articulated in a respectful way what most animal lovers across the world would want to say if they could step back a little from the immense cruelty of this mans act. I applaud you. Thank you from the depth of my soul.

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