Welcome to Pieter Kat's official LionAid blog. Here you can follow Pieter's opinions, thoughts, insights and ideas on saving lions.
Sunday 28th August 2011
Viktor Frankl, in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, said “It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking into the future – sub specie aeternitatis”. I would like to combine that with a quote from a speech by Douglas Adams given at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he said “The [time] we are best able to understand and appreciate the richness of life around us is also the time we are destroying life at the greatest rate".
From the perspective of the future, we are not doing well in terms of biodiversity conservation are we? We have greater and greater understanding of the consequences of what past destructive environmental practices entail, and while there are some bright spots, the abuse of our natural resources largely continues unabated.
We are also gaining a better and better understanding of the amazing richness of the biological diversity with which we “share” the planet – new species (and not only plants and insects, or the amazing diversity of life in the deep oceans, but some pretty big terrestrial mammals as well!) are described on a daily basis.
Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine wrote a book some time ago called “Last Chance to See”. Turned later into a BBC Series, the book contains an implicit warning – for many species, unless we implement good conservation strategies, our generation will have the last chance to see them.
And from the perspective of the future, that means we are not doing so well. Despite all the information we have, patiently gathered over the years and that allows us some degree of prediction as to consequences of our actions, we doggedly and even inexplicably continue on set commercial courses destined for tragedy.
Liken it to a supertanker set on full speed ahead. Even when the crew puts it into full astern, the momentum and weight of the ship continues to carry it forward for very many miles. Just like our bad decisions in the past – it is not always easy to reverse to established momentum before the shipwreck. But in some cases the evidence is just so overwhelming that a reverse gear should be applied immediately.
You knew I would come to lions eventually, so here we are…
In many of my past blogs on this site I have patiently and with a great amount of data explained why lions are on the rocks. With some bright spots, current conservation measures will continue to be a shipwreck as long as the additive mortality from trophy hunting is allowed, tolerated, and even encouraged by wildlife authorities in Africa, importing countries, and complacent attitudes. From the perspective of the future we continued to do little, and we will be judged by it.
As a quick overview, let’s just state a few facts as to why there is no such thing as sustainable lion hunting. All the relevant information to back up these statements is available in past blogs on this site.
Biology and Genetics
1. Lions in the wild don’t reproduce that well. About 60% of cubs die before they reach 2 yrs.
Effects of trophy hunting
Conclusion – there just aren’t any adult males left. Undeterred, the hunters are shooting younger and younger males, and it remains to be seen if recently adopted minimum age standards for trophies will be enforced. Meanwhile, the Tanzanian director of wildlife and other senior officials have been suspended over illegal live exports. Trophy hunters work nowhere better than in corrupt countries.
No evidence of hunting supporting communities or contributing to the nation's GDP
1. Many vested interest organizations have set out with very dubious methods to “prove” lions are doing very well, and that there is no cause for concern. Keep hunting them is the message, there are plenty of them.
Lion Periodic Review
1. The CITES Animals Commission recently accepted a proposal by Mexico and the USA to have African lions undergo a periodic review. LionAid had pushed for a review of significant trade, but a periodic review is acceptable, as it is a needed assessment of the current status of lions in African range states.
The information on lion biology, consequences of trophy hunting on populations, the truth about hopeful population numbers, and the myth that continued hunting will bring great benefits to rural communities all is available. Sub specie aeternitatis - from the perspective of the future – CITES has thrown lion conservation a bone. The momentum of the hunting lobby can be slowed and indeed reversed. But as long as they have all the finances, we are constrained. Not by will and great influence politically - that has been established. But by the ability to carry the better informed message of LionAid to the corridors of power.
See that “donate” button on this website? Click on it. Otherwise for lions it will really be a last chance to see. The hunters say – never apologize. Conservation-minded people should say – never compromise, and look to ensure what we do now will resonate well in the future.
Picture Credit: Chris Harvey
Posted by Pieter Kat at 15:12
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