See How Cecil’s Death Changed Public Opinions on Lions

New poll provides fresh insights into public’s knowledge of endangered species.

Data Points is a new series where we explore the world of data visualization, information graphics, and cartography.

The illegal killing of Cecil the lion last month has sparked worldwide debate about hunting and conservation of endangered species.

To see if the event has made a lasting impact on public opinion, National Geographic partnered with polling firm Ipsos in a survey of more than 1,000 American adults over the August 1-2 weekend. The poll found that 71 percent of respondents were familiar with Cecil’s shooting. Of those who were familiar, 70 percent acted in some way, mostly by reading a news story or talking about it with someone else.

To see if all that awareness is translating into further action, several questions were asked about people’s subsequent behavior. Sixteen percent of respondents who had heard about the lion posted about him on social media, ten percent signed an online petition on his behalf, and four percent said they donated to a related charity.

Despite high familiarity with the story, a more modest 41 percent of respondents were aware of the rapid decline of big cats in general and only 19 percent feel much more aware of the issue as a result of recent news coverage.

“I take the upwelling of feeling around the world about Cecil as a metaphor for their interest in lions and conservation more broadly,” says David Macdonald, the director of the Oxford University study that included Cecil. “I feel a great hope emerging from this.”

In response to all the interest, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force announced Thursday that they intend to install a statue of Cecil at the entrance to Hwange National Park, where he lived.

Share your support of big cats by donating $5 and uploading a photo of yourself giving a virtual high five to any social media platform, with the hashtag #5forBigCats. Learn more.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.

Read This Next

Clothing from 1600s shipwreck shows how the 1 percent lived
A Q&A with Nikole Hannah-Jones on ‘The 1619 Project’

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet