Trophy articulates the ‘largest’ or ‘best’ and therein lays the problem. We are losing our gene pool and disrupting the prides.

        When a trophy pride lion is shot we lose at least 8 to 15 lion and, by some, the estimate is much higher, simply by extension of the fact that new male lions that fill the territorial, void kills all the previous males cubs

        The hunter will think he has only killed one lion, but that is not the case. This is to bring the females into estrus so the new pride lion can sire his cubs and his own gene pool. The trophy hunter, by shooting one lion, has just killed off most of the pride. I was in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in August and a report came in from the lion research team that Oliver, a very well know pride lion with a collar and ten cubs, had just been baited and lured out of the park to be shot by a well known safari operator.  The hunter even brought in the collar, which had been put on Oliver only three days prior.  Then, one week later, a three-year-old lion was shot, and again, one week later, a third three year old was shot by the same hunter. The shooting of a lion under seven years of age or a pride lion is disruptive and unethical, especially when they are baited on the park border. Baiting on the park borders is the same as shooting the lion inside the park. The parks are there to protect our big cats.

I have many friends who are hunters and I am sure that as conservationists their actions can only be because they don’t have this information.

        The killing of the big males is devastating to the pride and is the biggest problem in every scenario.

 

        Bovine Tuberculosis, poisoning by Furadan, trophy hunting, ritual killing by Maasai, and the Asian Bone Trade all target the big males. Our big male lions have no chance.The gene pool is being compromised.

        As stated above, we only have about 3,500 big trophy lions left in the wild, in all of Africa.  That is about 25% of the Bald Eagles here in the USA. The Bald Eagle is our symbol and the Lion is the iconic symbol of Africa, if not the world, for its strength and power.  What if Africans came here and hunted our Bald Eagles? I am from Africa originally and have run safaris there for 50 years now. We never went a day without seeing lion in the beginning. Now we jump for joy at just hearing them at night and frequently return without our guests even seeing a wild lion.

        Wild lion hunting has become so profitable that no one involved in the cat hunting industry wants to give up the money. This will result in the loss of all our wild lions unless the hunting community does something now.  I spoke to some young professional hunters at the SCI convention this year. They stated that they know we are losing lions so they are grabbing the money while they can. A recent study showed that as species become more threatened and endangered, hunting levels actually go up, because of the rarity but long term it is the the photographic and hunting industries who will lose most.What will an African safari be like when the last wild lion is shot? The reason why an African safari is exciting now, is because there is an element of danger. There might just be a lion behind any bush.  We do many walking safaris and hunters will attest that it is just not the same walking or hunting in areas where there are no big cats.

        The wild lion is Africa.  I am not a bunny hugger and I love to walk in the bush with a gun.  Hunting is a huge part of conservation and we have far more wild animals in South Africa than we did 50 years ago. Hunters have made it a profitable business and put a value on the animal’s head. Cattle farmers got rid of all their cattle to stock with game for the hunting industry. For example, take the rhino that was almost wiped out. White rhino were down to about 1,500 but when the hunting of them was opened up after successful breeding programs, they rebounded to today’s approximately 20,000.  (Unfortunately, the Asian demand for the horn may well still bring about their demise.)

        Most all of the wildlife in Africa can be bred in captivity and released into the wild for hunting. This is not the case with lion.  They have never been successfully put back into the wild. When we have shot the last wild lion it will be the last wild lion, we cannot recreate the species from captive stocks.

        Corruption is rampant especially in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique due to quotas etc. Unethical hunting of trophy lions is a huge problem: shooting under-aged lions, pride and collared lion, hunting with dogs and drag lines, baiting on park borders and, in many cases, inside the national parks themselves. Most of all cats are shot from the safety of a blind. The national parks are put there to protect the big cats so why is baiting on the borders allowed. A cat hunting outfitter in Zimbabwe and known as the cat man promotes himself and his good record as he places his baits on the park borders.  All of the above may not be illegal, but they only marginally so and definitely unethical and unsportsmanlike. What happened to fair chase? All cat hunting in Botswana has now been banned which is because of the unethical practices of the big cat hunters. Wild lion hunting should be halted for at least 5 years everywhere to give these magnificent creatures a chance to rebound.  I do not think I will see this happen, but ethical and fair chase of all cat hunting should be implemented by the hunting industry itself and using that 5 year ban s the best time to put those practices in place. The hunting community needs to police itself.  In the old days, hunters truly hunted.  Give the cats a chance on an ethical and fair chase basis and we may just have the wild lions around a bit longer. Manage the desire, the egos, the greed and we might have them around forever.

Hemingway Safaris Inc.

88 Leonard St.

New York, NY 10013

(212) 838-3650

info@HemingwaySafaris.com

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