In response to Cecil's brutal killing, we asked 6 National Geographic photographers to share their experiences with lions - both beautiful and sad. I was most struck by Brent Stirton's words. He photographed at a lion farm in South Africa, and wrote:
"Humans are more voracious than lions will ever be—we seize their land, kill their natural prey, force them into conflict with us. Certain hunters pay a lot of money to shoot these magnificent creatures: Some of it genuinely reinforces conservation, while some of it just reinforces alpha-male egos. What is certain is that if we do not protect their natural habitats, the lions of the future will all come from these facilities, just another manufactured commodity. I wonder then how many generations it would take to quell the lion within."