The age of digital activism in tourism: evaluating the legacy and limitations of the Cecil anti-trophy hunting movement
KeywordsCecil the Lion
sustainable wildlife tourism
1409 Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
3305 Geography, Planning and Development
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AbstractWhen Cecil the Lion was shot in 2015 by the American tourist, Walter Palmer, the story sparked a global “cybermovement” against trophy hunting, questioning its sustainability from a moral-ethical standpoint. Indeed the incident was hailed as a possible turning point for the wildlife tourism industry. It remains unclear however whether a movement of this nature could have any meaningful impact. Thus, 2 years on from Cecil, what has (not) changed, and why? Findings reveal interventions aimed at deterring hunters, tightening international legislation, and furthering research on African wildlife conservation. However, trophy hunting still persists in much of Southern Africa, pointing to the limitations of digital movements. In explaining the limits of these movements, the article applies Social Movement Impact Theory and juxtaposes the divergent, competing moral criteria operating in the international “Cecilgate” context.