Monday, 10 August 2015

What's a Cecil Worth, Anyways?

Chances are you’ve heard of this lion named Cecil and the dentist who shot him. People are up in arms about it (Ba dum tis). The people over at PETA have even called for the guy to be hanged. I swear, if PETA doesn’t overreact to one of their causes, something’s wrong. But it seems like the majority of North Americans seem to be leaning to that sort of reaction. Jail time. Public shaming. Deportation. It’s getting ridiculous.

Anyways, this got me thinking – what is this guy’s life worth? What is any human life worth? Is it worth a lion?

Well, that means it’s off to do some hasty googling while I write this. If you are the type who enjoys African trophy animals adorning your study, then you could acquire a maned head/shoulder mount for $2500 - $5000 on ebay. That’s probably what the dentist was after, since I heard that the head was cut off. Tough to make a rug then, which would be valued around $2000 - $3000. A full body mount would be closer to $10 000. And that’s not even factoring in shipping and handling.

And those are just the selling values. Trying to get an idea of what a lion shoulder mount would cost, I saw a taxidermy forum say that a guy charged twice as much on a life-size mount as he would for a cougar. Another site was charging $200/linear foot for a cougar shoulder, whatever that means.

Now, we cannot assume that a stuffed lion would be worth the same as if it were alive. It is the top of the food chain in the Saharan plains. It controls the gnus and gazelles from overrunning the continent. On top of looking pretty, the lion controls populations, anchors a food chain, and makes more lions. So let’s triple what a life-size mount would be worth, leaving us with a lion that is worth $30 000.

But is that a male or female? A lion pride can consist of up to three males, around a dozen females and whatever young are still hanging around. So if a male lion is less common than a female, then it would probably be worth more (sorry, ladies). But there’s also the fact that male lions don’t hunt all that often. They just lay around and make babies, while still looking pretty. I would add $15 000 to our first value, rather than using the 4:1 ratio seen in the prides. Basically, we’re just adding what that glorious mane would be worth. Let that be a lesson to you – never underestimate the value of a head of golden locks.

Ok, so the value for a lion like Cecil would be $45 000. Well, maybe not like Cecil, since this is the value for it alive. Too soon? I don’t care. We’re doing math here.
The dentist paid $55 000 for the trip, which is a bit more than the lion’s worth, so I’m assuming that some of the cost was for the experience and not just getting the lion, since you can literally buy them off ebay.

Now what’s the dentist worth? There’s many ways, according to google, to value the average human life. Health insurance companies have set a standard at $50 000. If that’s true, then PETA isn’t actually all that off in calling for the guy to pay the ultimate price for killing a lion. There is the $5000 difference, but I imagine that’s countered by the fact no one wants to stuff a dentist and place him in their living room.

But Time Magazine claims that researchers at Stanford U says this is too low; it should be closer to $129 000, based on cost of kidney dialysis. So a person is worth almost three lions, or two males and a female (again, sorry, ladies). If that’s the case, the dentist should be allowed to go on two more hunts before people start demanding he’s hanged. It’s only fair.

There was one more number that I found. The US Office of Management and Budget value the average human life between $7 and $9 million. They get this number from looking at job riskiness and stuff. I didn’t get it. But this is the American government’s value on the average human life.
But a dentist isn’t an average person. They went to school for way too long to not get that distinction. Their job isn’t overly risky, but they are paid heavily for their efforts. Now, it’s not that I think this person is better than, say, a coal-miner. But it would be tougher to retrain a competent dentist that it would be for a miner. So it’s the job that adds a bit more value to the dentist. I think adding an extra million to the high number is fair. I don’t think that the personality of a person comes into effect here, though. He could be a scumbag or a saint, but a life is a life.

A dentist’s life, therefore, is worth $10 million. A male lion is worth $45 000.

Something doesn’t add up here.

PETA wants the death penalty to be enacted for his hunting trip. When else is the death penalty enacted in the United States? Murder, child rape and treason are the big three in the states that still carry capital punishment. Economically speaking, those make sense. They are ruining more than just one life in that of the victim, so it’s only fair to balance the books, so to say.

There’s only two ways I see this balancing, then:

1) The price of giving an animal a name is worth $9 9550 000
2) Countless lives in Zimbabwe were permanently negatively affected.

Since the first one would raise a lot more questions and math, like what a person’s name is worth, and I’m tired of math, let’s look to Africa. I read an interesting article, written by a guy from Zimbabwe which stated that people there barely even knew that another lion was gone, let alone one was named Cecil. To them, they’re beasts that are to be feared. It reminded me of the movie The Ghost and the Darkness, which was about two man eating lions who killed and ate somewhere between 10 and 24 people, and was based on a true story. So African’s kinda don’t like them.

So it looks like the only people who were negatively affected were Americans. And really, were they actually affected? This lion was being watched by some university, and people outside came to follow its life. When we watch these giant cats on screens, we see that they’re just big kitties that want to play and cuddle, and forget that they are deadly predators. People have bought lions and tigers as pets, only to one day have them become the prey. They’re not cuddly. They’re wild animals. It takes generations upon generations to domesticate an animal species. That’s why we have house cats, and not pets that can fit our heads between their jaws.

So looking at things from an economic view, things don’t really add up. Even when you factor in that lions are listed as vulnerable, and the hunt may have been less-than-legal, a person is still far more valuable than a lion. And, really, you can’t value a human life with money. Once that person is dead, they are dead forever. They will never come back. And, yes, this is true for the lion, too, but other lions don’t care. They have no powers of reason. They’re wild animals. Sometimes a member of the pride dies, so they make new ones. A lion is a lion, no matter what name it’s been given. They are to be respected, but they will never be more valuable than a person.

No comments:

Post a Comment