OPINION: Losing our humanity

Cecil the lion has been a trending topic since the news of his death was revealed earlier this week. I must admit, I'd never heard of him until the media began reporting on his killing. The 13-year-old lion was a big deal in Zimbabwe and a major tourist attraction. His life ended after American dentist Walter James Palmer paid $50,000 to track and kill him.

I remember reading the story and thinking it was a senseless killing. But I quickly moved on. Yet this wasn't the case for many people around the world, including South Africa. People are angry at what they have described as a cowardly act by Palmer. There were even protests outside Palmer's clinic in Minnesota - which he has since closed down.

Meanwhile, two Zimbabweans, hunter Theo Bronkhorst and farm owner Honest Ndlovu, are facing criminal charges for their role in the matter. Bronkhorst appeared in court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of "failing to prevent an unlawful hunt". He was released on $1,000 bail and will return to court on 5 August. Ndlovu will make his court appearance at a later date.

The whole thing hasn't really affected me. But what bothers me is that there's a petition for the lion. Animal lovers are baying for blood. They want the dentist punished, even worse, killed. I consider myself an animal lover, but I love humans more. Which is why I don't really get the outpouring of grief for Cecil.

RIP #CecilTheLion

I'm struggling to imagine anything more beautiful than this pic.twitter.com/lile3Kb2dk

#CecilTheLion protestors take their outrage to nearby Old Shakopee Road. Message remains same, extradite Dr. Palmer. pic.twitter.com/DnHqSAHFhN

Jimmy Kimmel breaks down on live TV over killing of Cecil the lion http://t.co/1auSb65FGz pic.twitter.com/kWWj4BDxfS

  • The Independent (@Independent) July 29, 2015 Earlier this month in the small town of Grabouw, a 14-year-old was raped, stabbed and buried alive. She pretended to be dead, crawled back home and named her attacker. Not once did her story trend on social media. The victim is still in hospital. I can't even begin to imagine what she and her family are going through. I have never met her, but I empathise because she's a human being. A 22-year-old man was arrested. Yet still I haven't seen any online or real life outrage following the brutal attack.

In the same month, 20-year-old Bongiwe Ninini was raped, stabbed, and her body dumped in an unused drain in an open field opposite the Thembani shopping centre in Khayelitsha. That story didn't make prime-time news and yet Cecil the lion has been one of the leading news items for the past two days.

Was his life more important than theirs?

Is it too much to ask that we care about the humans who are killed every day all over the world? What about the unarmed African Americans who have been killed by police this year alone?

When are the human activists going to make sure that Diaz-Zeferino, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and many more deaths were not in vain?

Someone suggested that before leaving your house, you need to wear a rhino or lion skin for people to care when something does happen to you. It sounds silly, but judging by what's happening, it could be an option for the thousands of nameless people killed every day.

Lindiwe Mlandu is a member of the _ Eyewitness News _ team in Cape Town. Follow her on Twitter: @LindiweMl