Welcome to Pieter Kat's official LionAid blog. Here you can follow Pieter's opinions, thoughts, insights and ideas on saving lions.
Saturday 22nd October 2011
When I get bored, like while sitting around at airports waiting for flights, I seek entertainment by delving into some of the hunting forums available on the internet. One site recommended to me is called accuratereloading.com, and it is stimulating to the pressure of blood to read some of the discussion forums there.
I’ve posted the link to a particularly interesting current topic below. It basically started out by some person called “Zimpatriot” revealing the excesses of South African “Professional” Hunters coming across the border with eager clients and conducting trophy hunts in more than a few of Zimbabwe’s national parks. Aided and abetted, it seems, by at least one warden. The South African took umbrage at being revealed, and threatened retaliatory action by some of his “black” friends in Zimbabwe.
The fur began to fly, as the Zimbabwe professional hunters (some of whom also seem to have been complicit in this activity) expressed great outrage about what seemed basically about the South African PHs operating illegal hunts. And perhaps operating by dastardly stealing clients away from the Zim PHs. Sabres were rattled and promises made to involve the Director General of Wildlife in Zimbabwe, The Labour Department, and the Immigration Department. A wonderful opportunity enthusiastically seized to tell about confiscated trophies mouldering away in Zimbabwe warehouses while dejected American clients who had trusted South African PHs offered money to have them restored. But then there was an interesting twist to the conversations.
We have all been told that trophy hunting operators, the professional hunters, and the clients all seek to conserve wildlife. Well, hunting in national parks is not exactly conducive to such aims, but it now appears official hunting areas are similarly exploited. Zimbabwe has some exclusive concession areas (one operator) and then there are others that will auction a quota, where anyone can bid. In those areas, there is also something called a “ration quota” to feed hungry citizens starved by Mugabe’s eccentric land allocation schemes. Ration quotas can also be sold directly to clients it seems. In addition, operators can also be provided access in these “auction” areas, and often many operate at the same time. One hunter complained of being in one of twelve vehicles carrying eager hunters in one area. Queues on the equivalent of a bush M25 come to mind…
Concern was expressed by the accuratereloaders that hunting quotas, already pegged at “enthusiastic” levels, were consequently doubled or tripled or quadrupled according to the diversity of hunting operators.
Lions were mentioned of course, and a discussion ensued about what had been shot versus what was theoretically assigned on quota. A consensus seemed to be reached that three areas where four lions were on quota actually had harvests of six lions in 2010 and seven in 2011. As with the one remaining Bumi Hills lion baited and shot either within a private photographic area or inches outside it, another contributor told of having seen carcass drag marks well within a photographic area to lure a local male lion out. The same contributor told of a three-year old son of the remaining females now mating with his mother and aunts? Collapse of the lion population in other words. Due to the conservation efforts of the hunting community.
What should be noted is that a US based hunter, Aaron Nielsen of Littleton, Colorado, given all the information above, is still pestering the other members of the forum for information as he wants to hunt a lion in the very areas where lions have been overshot in the past. My advice? Don’t delay Aaron, book yourself onto a hunt for the last lion in those areas ASAP. Or maybe your professional hunter could entice a lion out of a protected area to ensure the effectiveness of the sport hunting conservation message?
Better yet Aaron, book yourself with Safaribwana who is now advertising lion (and leopard) hunts at a cut rate. Basically, the Bwana’s formula is that you pay $10,000 to slog around a shot-out hunting area, and if you do happen to encounter a remaining adolescent lion and leopard, you shoot it and then pay up to $43,000. A budget safari with the possibility of a chance encounter? At least that operator is dealing with the stark realities of hunter conservation efforts in the past. He even says you can work to maintain a few roads while you search for the non-existent cats, and will throw in a sable antelope and a buffalo to keep your spirits up while washing dishes.
Do take the time to read the Accuratereloading entries while sitting at your next airport. And do consider the wonderful world of conservation hunting as is revealed. Thanks to a wonderful LionAid supporter who digs in muck on our behalf, if I was Liz you would have an OBE.
Posted by Pieter Kat at 21:47
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