Famous Poacher Hunter Vows to Avenge Cecil the Lion’s Death-Mostly Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
An ex-Marine turned “poacher hunter” has vowed to hunt down the poachers who killed Cecil the Lion in Africa.
This one twists fact and fiction, but it’s mostly fiction.
It’s true that poachers killed Cecil the Lion. It’s also true that there’s an ex-Marine turned poacher hunter named Kinessa Johnson. But it’s not true that she vowed to hunt down Cecil the Lion’s poachers.
That rumor was started by the fake news website World News Daily Report in an effort to capitalize on public outrage over Cecil the Lion’s death at the hand of poachers.
Cecil the Lion was one of the oldest and best-known lions in Zimbabwe. Researchers from Oxford tagged him in 2008 and have been tracking his movements ever since.
Reuters reports that an American dentist from Minnesota named James Palmer paid a professional hunter in Zimbabwe $50,000 to hunt and kill a lion there. The professional hunter has been charged with failing to prevent the unlawful killing of Cecil the Lion. Palmer, meanwhile, said he didn’t kill Cecil the Lion and thought he had the permits required to hunt big game in Zimbabwe:
Palmer said on Tuesday he had hired professional guides who secured hunting permits and deeply regretted taking the lion. He added that he had not been contacted by authorities in Zimbabwe or the United States and would assist in any inquiries.
News of Cecil the Lion’s death sparked public backlash — and the fake news story that an ex-Marine poacher hunter named Kinessa Johnson had vowed to “hunt down” those responsible for Cecil the Lion’s death. According to World News Daily Report:
Kinessa Johnson from Yelm, Washington State, works for the Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VEPAW), training park rangers to catch and detain the wildlife killers. The organization was founded by an ex-Marine and is made up of former soldiers who signed up post-9/11.
“My intention is usually not to harm anyone; I don’t take pleasure in harming or killing poachers, but ultimately, it is the most efficient way to prevent poaching” she told local reporters.
World News Daily Report regularly mixes fact with fiction in a “satirical” reporting style, according to its disclaimer:
WNDR assumes however all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content. All characters appearing in the articles in this website – even those based on real people – are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any persons, living, dead, or undead is purely a miracle.
This article is especially confusing because it blends actual events, people, organizations and quotes to create a fake news story.
Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife — the group cited in the article — is a real non-profit organization, for example. And Kinessa Johnson — the ex-Marine turned “poacher hunter” who allegedly threatened to hunt down Cecil the Lion’s poachers — is real, too.
But the fake news report stole a statement that Johnson made in an April 2015 profile by an NBC affiliate and applied it to Cecil the Lion’s poachers. The original quote reads:
“We work side by side with park rangers and it’s truly a learning experience for not only park rangers but also our team,” said Johnson. “Our intention is not to harm anyone; we’re here to train park rangers so they can track and detain poachers and ultimately prevent poaching.”
Cecil the Lion, Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife and Johnson are all real — but the World News Daily Report article isn’t.