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Just in case Panthera might still be sitting on the fence in terms of benefits of lion trophy hunting....

A recent publication by Zeke Davidson and others in the journal Biological Conservation (2011, Volume 144, pages 114-121) reviewed the effects of trophy hunting on a population of lions in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. The research originates from a long-term programme established by Oxford University.

The trophy hunting did not actually occur within the “protected” area, but hunters lured lions out into hunting areas on the doorstep of the National Park with baits and calls, and “probably” shot them there. It can be conjectured that hunters also entered the National Park due to lax controls and a bit of money into the right pockets. They of course did not perhaps embark on this willingly, but what do you do when you have clients and you have already destroyed the lion population resident in the hunting area assigned? While you are of course conserving them by hunting them?

Early warning


An author on the 2011 paper, Andrew Loveridge, already presented a paper in 2007  to show the ravages that trophy hunting created on the Hwange lion population. The lion male populations in his study area were repeatedly emptied by trophy hunting, and were then successively occupied by new males from the Park interior. This resulted in rapid pride takeovers, infanticide, and great perturbation of prides in the Park.

See Pieter's blog on this topic here  

Perhaps due to Andrew’s data, a temporary suspension of lion hunting around Hwange National Park was instituted in 2005 and lasted to 2008.

The positive effects were immediately noticed. Male replacement rates declined, allowing cubs to survive past the stage of extreme vulnerability. Pride territory sizes declined, indicating a greater stability of occupancy and a more steady “socio-spatial structure”.   

In their conclusions the authors say “Hence, both demographic and socio-spatial effects indicate that with the moratorium, the perturbation effects were largely reversed.”

Clearly, trophy hunting has negative effects, and is not “conservation”

So. Here is a clear statement that with trophy hunting, lion populations living under that regime suffer greatly in terms of reproduction and pride social structure and population stability. Yet Panthera through their Executive Vice President Luke Hunter assumes that lion trophy hunting should continue as the funds derived (and distributed to communities?) constitute the best available means of conserving the species.

How well has Panthera evaluated the available data? I would suggest that Luke spends a bit more time reading and then evaluating his statements. Panthera should not stand behind trophy hunting as a “model” for lion conservation, despite perhaps influential donors. 

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 21:43

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