Killing of Cecil the lion caused outrage - but legal hunting can be lifeline for Africa's wildlife
The death of Cecil the lion has caused outrage but the killing of big game offers a key to conservation. There's something rather tragic about a dead big cat; an apex predator reduced to something akin to a battered teddy crossed with a shagpile carpet.
So it's easy to understand the anger over Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion killed by Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota. Piers Morgan's tweet, announcing: "I'd love to go hunting for killer dentist Dr Walter Palmer, so I can stuff him on my office wall", is typical of the digital castigation now being heaped on the American.
I wonder, then, what Palmer's critics would make of Kirkpatrick, whose head and skin lie by my desk as I type. He's an Indian leopard, 7ft from head to tail, his face twisted into a sardonic snarl, who took 34 human lives before he met his demise in 1934 with a bullet from the local district commissioner. Would they condemn his killing or that of the leopard of Rudraprayag, shot by Jim Corbett in 1926 after it had eaten 125 souls?