It recently emerged that the Bubye Valley Conservancy, a seemingly prime trophy hunting destination in Zimbabwe, offered a lion trophy hunting “raffle”. Each “ticket” cost $1,500, and 100 or so tickets were to be made available for sale. Bubye had said the raffle would be open to everyone and that instead of shooting the lion, non-hunters could bid to pose with a darted lion that would then be fitted with a radio collar.
This auction has apparently been cancelled now, presumably as a direct result of the backlash of public opinion against them? We were informed of the cancellation this afternoon from a phone call from the BBC World Service.
Before the decision to cancel, Bubye Conservancy claimed to have a resident lion population estimated at 500 individuals on their 4,875km2 area, justifying their hunt as a “population control measure”. 500 lions would mean about 1 lion per 10 square kilometres in Bubye, a lion density unknown to any other area in the world. 500 lions would also mean that Bubye has more lions than all of western Africa, all of Zambia, and about half of Kenya. In less than 5,000 km2?
In 2012, Riggio et al in a scientific publication mentioned that Bubye contained an estimated 200 lions.
But while the Bubye lion population is now only “estimated” via various non-scientific counts, why is there not a specific number known? After all, there is a long term resident lion project there associated with Oxford University and supported by a diversity of donors - the Safari Club International West Texas Chapter and the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters Association for example.
So how come the researchers there do not know how many lions there are? Why are they not providing accurate lion numbers? What is the Bubye lion research project actually about?
Let’s have some transparency.
Let’s have the Bubye lion research project give a clear accounting of what funding they received and the identity of their donors. Let’s have the Bubye lion research project clearly state their association with Oxford University – after all, one of their senior lion “researchers” Mr Trethowan, seems in residence at Oxford right now to “write up” his PhD Thesis.
Let’s have Oxford University make a statement about their stance on lion trophy hunting after receiving in excess of $1.5 million in public donations after Cecil’s hunt. Public funds were donated in good faith against further trophy hunting, yet Oxford seemed reluctant to condemn the ill conceived raffle?
In conclusion, all excuses lion to promote trophy hunting as a “conservation” measure now need to be exposed as just a nonsense.