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Lion trophy hunting from the perspective of a former hunter

NEWS: we have been requested to remove the link to the actual video as it may compromise ongoing undercover operations.

There is a video about lion “hunting” put together by Brian Gaisford, a former hunter who now lives in New York City where he runs the Hemingway Gallery of African art. He is a friend who now shows up at hunting conferences and tells everyone to stop lion hunting. He recently asked a representative of the Panthera Foundation some tough questions at their Exporer’s Club presentation about their pro-lion hunting stance. The hunting videos he uses are hard to watch but show the travesty of trophy hunting in all its “glory” – shooting canned lions, shooting baited lions from a hide, always high-powered rifles with telescopic sights that still incredibly seem not to be able to make a humane kill. 

Brian makes a very good point – “trophy hunters” these days come to Africa and see the animals for the first time though the crosshairs of their rifles. It is not about conservation, it is about the trophy delivered on a plate and then the hunter-conservationists are back on the next plane home. They want nothing to do with Africa, wildlife, conservation – they shop for lions on pampered safaris, splash some money around and leave with another bit of Africa’s ever more endangered national wildlife heritage.

We are rightfully disgusted by commercial poaching of Africa’s elephants and rhinos for the benefit of those living in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, the Philippines, the USA and Europe. Just because commercial trophy hunters are issued with permits does not mean their impact on Africa’s lions is less destructive. 

Brian requested the latest lion trophy export figures yesterday, and here they are for you:

Country totals, skins and trophies exported, 2002-2011:

Benin: 22

Burkina Faso: 131

Botswana: 245

Central African Republic: 66

Cameroon: 77

Mozambique: 190

Namibia: 479

Tanzania: 1,761

South Africa: 6,475

Zambia: 560

Zimbabwe: 792

Total, 11 countries, skins and trophies 2002-2011: 10,798. That is ten thousand, seven hundred and ninety eight dead lions. 

We are left in Africa with, according to our latest estimates, around 15,000 lions in the wild. That means about 1,500 adult males. Let’s say we subtract all the “canned” captive bred lions shot in great numbers in South Africa. That still means 4,323 wild lions, virtually all males, have been shot in Africa in the ten years up to 2011. 

No wonder the hunters are shooting male lions as young as 2yrs old in hunting concessions, luring them out of nationally protected areas with baits and calls, and even illegally hunting in National Parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Namibia at least. 

There are ever fewer lions left in Africa and trophy hunting at these rates is killing them faster than any other factor contributing to their decline, remembering that killing a pride male has great consequences on future pride cub survival and reproduction.

Just because some African governments still allow lion trophy hunting of their dwindling populations, it should no longer be justified, justifiable, acceptable, warranted or defensible. It is just wrong.

Posted by Pieter Kat at 20:13

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