Twitter Hashtag COULD #SaveSylvestor the Lion

#SaveSylvestor the Lion

“A South African lion named Sylvester was sentenced to die on Tuesday because park rangers were frustrated that he wouldn’t stay in Karoo National Park” (Ries, 2016). Ever since @SANSpark live tweeted (the national park twitter handle) about his whereabouts and the possibility of him being ‘put down,’ compassionate twitter followers all over South Africa, and now beyond, have been petitioning to save this lion using a simple hashtag:



Sure, Sylvestor may have eaten a cow and 26 sheep in the two times he escaped, but isn’t that what lions eat?

The hashtag is gaining momentum and @SANSpark created at least four ways to not have Sylvestor put down (Ries, 2016):

1. Bringing the lion back to the park and looking at improving on fencing and other preventative measures.

2. Translocating the lion to another national park.

3. Donating the lion to another state-owned conservation entity.

4. Donating the lion to a private conservation entity.

Twitter saves the day again. The ability to tap into, crowd source, respond quickly, build momentum, etc. it’s all possible through channels like Twitter.

Check out the #SaveSylvestor pride of tweets below:



Ries, B. (2016, March 30). Sylvester the lion faces death, but this hashtag could save him. Retrieved March 30, 2016, from


7 Comments Add yours

  1. alisonaudree says:

    After the internet went crazy over #CecilTheLion, it is no surprise that this hashtag also went viral. What is perhaps the most interesting, is the little amount of research people put into their online support. While I agree that there must be alternative options for Sylvester, I can’t help but wonder how many people actually know what they’re promoting. Do you think that Twitter’s limit on characters has anything to do with the limited information people are working with? Or is this simple something to do with uneducated consumers?


    1. I agree. Not long ago I heard a report on NPR about a man who had won the right to kill an animal on the endangered species list. There was a huge amount of push back as one would expect. The reality was that the animal, a rhino, was no longer of breeding age and when they get that age they can become dangerous and will attack younger rhinos as well as other animals.

      As such the rhinos who were potentially to be hunted were a danger to the survival of the species. So while there may well be other ways to approach the issue, there were underlying thoughts that many did not take into place.

      I still do not know where I fall in regards to the rhino issues, but I do know that it is not as simple as one might think when just viewing the surface.


  2. After reading your post I immediately thought about #CecilTheLion as Alison also mentioned. Big game trophy hunting is popular within America and around the world and is even funded and organized by the United States. According to the New York Times, safari hunts are typically popular among wealthy individuals who bring back more than 400 lion trophies (heads and furs), into the U.S. each year.

    These big game hunters operate in a segment unto their own and require a great deal of time, and funds. For example, plane tickets, specialized gear and weapons, safari guides and astronomical hunting fees are determined by what kind of animal their plan to kill. As a reference, a lion costs more than $50,000!


  3. Matt Turner says:

    I hadn’t heard of this story until just now, but as an animal lover, I would hate to see something happen to that lion. While I think that Sylvester should be treated humanely, and should certainly not be put down, I believe that something has to be done about keeping him away from humans. I would be worried that if he strayed too far, and got near a town or city, he might be having a little more than cow and sheep for lunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for the great post on #SaveSylvester! Over the past few years hashtag activism has become an increasingly effective and important way to spread messages to the masses. With trending topics like #BlackLivesMatter, #JusticeForCecil and #ALSIceBucketChallenge, hashtags provide a powerful way for activists to come together to facilitate change. According to a Digital Activism study (, 75% of millennials use social media to discuss issues that are important to them. In our increasingly connected world, I doubt that these types of movements will go away any time soon. In the case of Sylvester the lion, this type of activism undoubtedly worked well.

    While digital activism such as this can positively affect many social campaigns, there are also critics that argue that simply supporting a cause online isn’t enough. Real-life action must also take place. What are your thoughts? Can you think of any hashtag campaigns that have been especially effective in facilitating change?


    Liked by 1 person

  5. jrclorley says:

    One of the great things about the internet is that everyone has a voice. One of the worst things about the internet is that everyone has a voice. Social media has legitimately made our planet smaller in terms of giving us an outlet for communicating with each other, but we spend a lot of that time arguing over small stuff that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    I’ve got no problem with Sylvester, but I think it should be a non-issue for people in the US. There’s a TON of people commenting online about this lion that simply don’t know how wild game politics work outside the United States (or inside for that matter). The mix of the anthropomorphism of African game and a bunch of folks that are undereducated on a situation can lead to a huge outbreak of negative PR on twitter and other networks. I’m definitely not saying the method of killing Cecil was legal, but if he didn’t have a name we’d have never heard about it. Thousands of lions are killed every year by hunters and game commission officers and nothing’s ever mentioned, except from the occasional message from good old PETA. There was a great piece in the NY Times written by someone in Zimbabwe titled “In Zimbabwe, We Don’t Cry for lions” that offers great perspective on how frightening it is to live with these large predators on your doorstep; something we don’t see much of here in the US.

    I’m a massive advocate for conservation and I spend a ton of money every year between donations and the federal excise taxes on all the gear I purchase. I genuinely want more animals that are part of a healthy population of all species here and abroad. I love the idea of deer, but won’t cry for one single deer. That same approach should be passed on to animals like lions, that we don’t control, as well. Hopefully social media will help people understand that if it weren’t for responsible hunters and game officers, these animals would’ve been extirpated by now; just like nearly all deer, elk, buffalo, turkey, antelope, black bears, and waterfowl were prior to World War II in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ksluter says:

    I hadn’t heard of this story until now, but it immediately made me think Cecil. Twitter has become a very interesting social media platform when it comes to how people think how a situation should play out. I’ve seen so many hashtags created for people, animals, places, businesses etc that have to do with how poorly they are being treated or have treated someone. While I think a hashtag is a great way to show solidarity and inform the public on what is going on around the world, I’m not sure if it eventually helps the situation. Going forward, I am going to start using hashtags more as a call to action and less as a solidarity statement.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s