Dentist Walter Palmer had been getting away with it for years, by the skin of his teeth, but he committed a number of simple mistakes in Zimbabwe that finally caught up with him. So, next time you want to bag a trophy for the wall with your archery set, remember these five basic rules on how to kill animals and get away with it.
1. Don't kill an animal with a name:
Just as you wouldn't shoot your neighbour's cat, Mr Whiskers, don't kill a lion called Cecil. Go for the ones the tourists have never heard of and can't picture, or the ones called Adolf. People might be less angry. After all, isn't that why Palmer explained himself by saying "I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favourite."
2. Be a real king, not the king of the jungle:
Prince Harry was pictured beside a hunted water buffalo, and he's fine. King Juan Carlos of Spain shot an elephant. No problemo. So try having more crowns than a dentist.
3. Don't kill an animal popularised in a West End musical:
Yesterday a friend coincidentally went to see The Lion King. She overheard someone say afterwards, "I couldn't watch, I just kept thinking of Cecil." It also just gifts headlines like this from the Daily Mail: 'Agonising last hours of a lion king and one man's deadly vanity'. (Point 3b - don't be vain and post your kills online.)
4. Don't be otherwise respectable:
Holding down a credible day job is a sure fire way to hot water. Better to be the company that organised the hunting trip - we always knew they were bad, so no point shaming them on social media. And where would we start? Too much hassle.
5. Exist in a time before social media:
For many people, social media is great as it means you don't have to do anything other than just be angry (see Jon Ronson's book for what to do when you've been publically shamed by the e-mob though). However, tweets and facebook shares can be the undoing of people who don't follow these rules, so move to North Korea.
I hope these tips help.
Alternatively, don't hunt animals, ever. It's just wrong. But if you do, at least hope that if you do get caught out, it actually means something and people use the story to shut down a whole industry, rather than just the offices of a Minnesotan tooth fixer.