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Lion trophy hunting in Mozambique strictly controlled?

                                                                   How low can you go?

For some time now, Mozambique has imposed an age minimum on lions allowed be hunted as trophies. Despite the fact that the “6 year rule” is contentious (in southern Africa there is considerable evidence that male lions aged 6 have only just taken over their first pride and that their reproductive life continues for many years beyond 6yrs), these restrictions are seen as a positive contribution against overhunting.

Also challenging is of course the means of ageing a lion, as there are no accepted standards.

The Niassa Carnivore Project  (NCP)reports that in 2004 over 70% of male lions taken were underage, but that this had improved to about 50% by 2007. They announce a conservation goal of 20% underage in 2010, but such progress reports appear not to be forthcoming. It seems that the NCP is involved in age monitoring of lions taken by hunters.

The Mozambique programme (does it only apply to the Niassa region?) includes penalties – hunting operators will lose lion quota if the lions shot by their clients are underage. Note that the underage trophy can still be exported. 

The “Niassa model” has been touted by pro-hunting organizations as a reason NOT to place lions on the US Endangered Species Act (because of responsible hunting) . The Niassa Carnivore Project joined in objecting to place lions on the US ESA. Let’s have their information to support that decision.  

Meanwhile, the hunting of underage lions continues in Mozambique. The above lion was shot with professional hunter Yann Le Bouvier (right), working for JP Bernon Safaris in the Cabora Bassa region. I would generously judge the age of this lion at about 3-4 yrs. What penalties were imposed on the operator by Mozambique? Le Bouvier is a member of several professional hunting societies and should therefore abide by their ethics (if any).

All well and good to impose rules on lion hunting operators. But if they do not themselves have the ethics to obey those rules, then even the minimal requirements of “sustainable hunting” seem negated for financial profit. 

Picture credit:

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Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:27

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