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The Panthera Foundation attempts to explain..

Luke Hunter, an Australian scientist who published on reintroductions of lions into private reserves in South Africa during his scientific career, is now the Executive Vice President of the Panthera Foundation in the USA. In an apparent attempt to reassure Panthera donors who believe the Foundation is doing good for big cats, Luke wrote a bit of a complicated message on the Huffington Post website .The article sought to explain Panthera’s non-support for the alliance of conservation organisations appealing to US Interior Secretary Salazar to put lions on the US Endangered Species List.

LionAid is not behind the current appeal to Salazar either. We greatly support the spirit but the approach could have been much improved, as we stated in a previous blog.

Luke, after many paragraphs of personal handwringing, says that trophy hunting needs to remain a formula for African wildlife conservation. We agree to some extent.

Lion trophy hunting is NOT a convincing model for lion survival


But Luke fails to see that designation of land for wildlife, supposed benefits to communities, and the contribution towards the survival of African wildlife by trophy hunters does not singly revolve around lions. Luke says:

 “As unpalatable as it may be, until we find alternative mechanisms to generate the hard cash required to protect wilderness in Africa, hunting remains the most convincing model for many wild areas.”

Yet Panthera can hardly justify this approach for large areas of western and central Africa where lions have been reduced to pitiful remnant populations? Is Panthera now lobbying to have lions hunted in Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana where there are local moratoria? And would Panthera extend such “convincing models” to tiger populations in Russia and jaguars in Brazil? And campaign to have those species removed from CITES Appendix 1 (no trade) to support their models? Of course not. One wonders how Luke could have been motivated to say that the “convincing model” for lions makes any sense in that case…

Lion trophy hunting needs to be stopped.


Lions, as stated before, are just one item on the menu for trophy hunters. Their removal from the menu will not end all trophy hunting on the continent. Nor will it lead to the invasion of cattle and agriculture into wildlife areas. That is hype and frankly constitutes the use of scare tactics. Panthera should know that trophy hunting of lions has in the past only contributed to their decline, and should realize that a ban is timely and necessary.

Conservation organisations do not need to always agree on the best way forward in terms of overall protection of a species. But it is crucial that all conservation organisations carefully identify the threats to such species based on scientific evidence and not outdated formulas that have clearly been shown to be destructive. 

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 17:39

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