Pieter's Blog

Welcome to Pieter Kat's official LionAid blog. Here you can follow Pieter's opinions, thoughts, insights and ideas on saving lions.

What is conservation?

Monday 20th October 2014

Cedar trees 

A confused picture


Strange question you might ask, as we all know what conservation is don’t we? But I would pose that we don’t really understand the concept anymore as it has become both incredibly diluted and has multiple meanings.

For example, the Business Directory says this:

“Exploitation, improvement, and protection of human and natural resources in a wise manner, ensuring derivation of their highest economic and social benefits on a continuing or long-term basis. Conservation… (unlike preservation) implies consumption of the conserved resources."

While the Oxford Dictionary says this:

Protect (something, especially something of environmental or cultural importance) from harm or destruction."

Let’s look at the root of the word – it comes from Latin and basically just means “keep together”. And that is where we have gone wrong, as we are not keeping very much in nature “together” are we? We have somehow moved away from what conservation really is to a much more exploitative definition.

Some say we should not confuse conservation with preservation – and the latter has actually become a rather “bad” word. But preservation only really means “keep as before”.

So let’s just have a new definition of conservation – “keeping wild”. That means keeping wild areas and keeping life wild in those areas,

Now the sad thing is that we don’t really know how to “keep” things as they were before, as we have very little real information on what natural areas, wildlife populations, forests, marine life etc looked like 2014 years ago let alone 10,000 years ago. We know that the expansion of human populations and associated consequences like the proliferation of agriculture, mining, industry, water use, harvest of natural products etc has made great changes across the face of our planet. We know that our grandparents tell us that there was much more of lots of things years ago. That might not be true in some cases – but that’s a subject for another discussion.

The reality is that we have not kept things wild. Instead, as the Business Dictionary defines conservation, we have opted for “ensuring derivation of their highest economic and social benefits on a continuing or long-term basis” of natural resources. Sustainable use in other words.

Long espoused by the “major” conservation organizations, has “sustainable use worked? That should not even be a question. It has not. Even the oceans have been depleted of fish. Why has it not worked?

Two reasons at least. First, we have never bothered to establish the “size” of the resource that we use “sustainably”. We have no idea of how many fish there are in the ocean, how many lions there are in Africa, how many trees there are in the forests. We just use them for our purposes until we run into big problems as we find fewer and fewer of those resources we were supposedly using sustainably. If you have no idea of how to limit use of resources to a sustainable level you inevitably end up overexploiting them.

To assuage ourselves we set “quotas” on such practices, but as we should all know quotas are always exceeded, either because they are ignored or because they become part of the illegal trade. Until very recently nobody was greatly penalized by exceeding fishing quotas or logging quotas or trophy hunting quotas as there was nobody there (and that continues today) to effectively monitor what is happening. Overexploitation just means greater profits.

Second, it has been estimated that we need a planet 1.5 times the size of the Earth to meet our current demands. So let’s not talk about “sustainable” utilization of wild resources anymore. That concept, now very many decades old, has failed spectacularly and should get buried in a pauper’s grave.

Another concept is that we should “farm” our forests and wildlife. Farming forests is not conservation – as farmers substitute fast growing and often non-indigenous trees for the centuries-old native trees that are cut down. That is not keeping wild is it?

Farming wildlife has been heralded by a few southern Africa countries as a major solution to conserve wildlife. In fact, many “conservationists” in South Africa point to the fact that there are now many thousands more “wild” animals in the country than ever before. But farming is not conservation, it is commercial utilization. Perhaps South Africans equate “wildlife” behind fences with wildlife, but this is a stretch of their imagination. Wildlife ranches are not concerned about biodiversity, they are concerned about profits. That is why they farm selected species (the most commercially valuable ones) and neglect others. Also, a wildlife farm (or the seemingly preferred term “ranch”) cannot include predators as they will literally eat into the farmer’s profits. By farming wildlife it is not wildlife any longer. That’s not keeping wild either.

You might as well say that other facilities, like zoos, contribute to conservation by keeping and breeding animals. A zoo tiger might look like a wild tiger but that resemblance is only skin deep. A predator raised in captivity cannot be released back into the wild and be expected to “recover” hunting skills.

So if we now accept that conservation means “keeping wild”, where do we go from here? Humans need fish and wood and meat and plants to survive. Fish farming and tree farming and wildlife farming could be needed to provide our ever-increasing demands, but let’s not call that conservation any longer.

If we want to keep things wild, we need better managed wild areas where consumptive human activities do not encroach. That is the first and not necessarily easiest step. Africa has huge gazetted wildlife areas that could be restored with better management and better political will and better financial discipline. There are similarly huge areas worldwide that can be resurrected for forests and wildlife. These lands are degraded and no longer commercially valuable, but given time, can be restored. Much more attention needs to be paid there. We need to abandon highly destructive activities like growing palm oil and extensive fields of crops for bio-gas. We need to concentrate much more on renewable energy like wind, solar, tidal.

We need not only a better definition of conservation, but we also need to live more carefully, imaginatively, and respectfully to keep the wild. And let’s restrict the term “conservation” to what it really needs to be, not what many want it to be.


 Picture credit: www.flickr.com 



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:28

The Ebola Bush Meat connection

Friday 10th October 2014

Fruit bat 

Eating me can harm you and many others


You can hardly watch a news broadcast or open a newspaper these days without hearing “experts” talking about Ebola. For sure, the world is worried – the USA and the UK among many other nations are now instituting checks in airports to screen people arriving from various African countries. Anyone with a fever is then given more intensive health checks.

One person in the USA coming from western Africa recently died in Dallas (and may have infected many others while he was visiting friends) and a nurse in Spain contracted Ebola while tending to missionaries hospitalized after they were infected in western Africa. For good measure, the Spanish authorities put down the Spanish nurse’s dog. Other UK and USA citizens (health care workers and even a journalist) who contracted the disease in western Africa were flown back home to receive specialized hospital care.

Meanwhile the death toll in the western African source countries has almost reached the 4,000 mark with many more infected. Their presidents have called for greater international help, and medical teams have been dispatched. People infected with Ebola have an 80% mortality rate and there is no cure in sight.

Containment alone will cost of scores of millions of dollars.

Of course it is important to save human lives, but these efforts do not address the root cause of the disease. Patient Zero (as health officials call the first infected person who started this outbreak) was a young child who either touched a captured bat or consumed meat from one.

Ebola and a number of other dangerous diseases originate from wildlife, especially those that are caught and eaten as “bush meat”. And the bush meat trade is huge in western Africa – it was estimated in 2010 that the annual trade is worth $250 million in Ghana and $148 million in Cote d’Ivoire.

Recently, Steve Osofsky (a wildlife veterinarian) published an article with CNN mentioning that people should avoid eating monkeys and bats. He says “A significant number of people could likely be deterred from eating high-risk species if real political will and resources were brought to bear. For those consumers of high-risk bushmeat who simply have no other dietary options, we need to redouble our development efforts, replacing dependence on wildlife with safe and nutritious alternatives suitable to the local context.” 

Osofsky is right, and there should be a concerted campaign to educate people all over the world about the risks of consuming bush meat, coupled with providing meat from safe alternatives. This would achieve two goals – conserving wildlife and saving human lives. Otherwise we will continue to see disease outbreaks like Ebola in the future and we will have to spend scores of millions of dollars treating victims of the inevitable next outbreak. Prevention is always better than the very costly cures.


Picture credit: Getty Images


 If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Tags: Ebola, Fruit bats,

Categories: Bushmeat trade

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:48

Another happy hunter

Wednesday 8th October 2014

Elephant tusker 

One less tusker in Africa


This elephant, with “record” tusks was shot recently in Zimbabwe by an American hunter. It appears that the elephant came across the border from Mozambique where poachers had been setting a lot of fires.

It is doubtful, with the current USFWS moratorium on elephant hunting trophies placed on Zimbabwe and Tanzania, that this hunter will be able to place these tusks in his trophy room anytime soon. But that’s another matter.

The real concern is that this hunter shot one of the few remaining large bulls in a large area spanning Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Elephant biologists know these large bulls are very important in their populations as they are responsible for most of the breeding. That’s the real matter.

“Conservation hunting” of elephants should no longer be allowed not only because there are fewer and fewer elephants left in Africa, but also because scientific studies have shown that removing the prime breeding males from ANY population of wild animals has detrimental effects on reproduction and stability, and could have long-term effects on the rate of any future recovery.

It is high time that trophy hunters integrate some basic biological principles in their activities if there is any credence to be placed on their claims that hunting aids conservation. They claim to be only removing post-reproductive males from the population, but this is clearly nonsense. Trophy hunting means that hunters want the best trophies – meaning males in their prime.

Some sort of “control” has been placed on lion trophy hunting by some sort of “regulation” on the age of male lions that can be shot. Not only is that age completely misplaced thanks to a highly flawed computer model, but it makes no biological sense. A male lion aged 6yrs is in his prime, not an excess non-reproductive male.

Just like so many other “trophy” animals are in their prime – like this elephant.

At the end of the day it is not “just” the numbers of trophies taken by hunters that governs the impact they have on wildlife populations. It is also the great damage they do to population structure, social structure, reproductive consequences and indeed – the natural balance in hunted populations.

If African nations want to conserve their wildlife heritage, trophy hunting of a number of vulnerable species should go. It financially benefits the few and damages, in this case, remaining elephant populations for decades.


Picture credit: http://bit.ly/1saiv3E 



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:11

Spare a thought for hippos

Friday 26th September 2014


Best lie low


Hippos have decreased hugely in Africa – they are a popular bushmeat item and cause much conflict with humans as they destroy crops. Consequently, it is difficult to find many hippos in large stretches of African rivers and lakes where they used to occur in numbers. You would be very hard pressed to find a hippo on the three largest lakes in Africa – Victoria, Tanganyika, and Nyassa (Malawi). I did biodiversity research on all those lakes in the 1990s and travelled huge expanses of the lake by boat but hardly saw a hippo.

Hippos are also unfortunate that their teeth are increasingly used in the legal and illegal ivory trade (ivory is not just about elephants!).

And the trade in hippo ivory is perfectly legal, although there is also a significant illegal trade of poached animals. How much legal hippo ivory enters the market? Over the ten years 2003-2012 exports from African countries indicate that 93,445 kg of hippo ivory and 35,763 teeth (mostly the large canines of which hippos have four) were exported. As a conservative estimate, I would say this represents about 27,000 hippos. These hippos came largely from the usual suspects like Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Tanzania – but significant numbers were also exported from Malawi, Uganda and Mozambique. By far most of this ivory ends up in Hong Kong.

There is also a major skin trade involving hippos. From 2003 to 2012, African nations like Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, among others, exported 13,996 skins, 46,305 square feet of skins, and 7,367 square meters of skins. Are all those skins from the hippos killed for their ivory?

In addition, hippos also seem a popular trophy for trophy hunters. In the 20 years 1993-2012, a total of 11,444 hunting trophies were exported, mostly from Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Of that total, 30% came from Tanzania, a seemingly popular destination for hippo trophy hunters.

Hippos are not particularly difficult to hunt – with a powerful rifle and an accurate telescopic sight, all you need to do is sit by water and wait for them to emerge. The only difficulty posed is that if you only wound a hippo they will run back into the water and die there. Difficult to then recover your trophy, and perhaps necessitating shooting another one.

How many hippos remain in Africa? Good question as nobody really knows. Anyone ever heard of a hippo survey? One that was conducted in the DRC in 2003 showed that the Virunga population had been decimated from 29,000 thirty years ago to 1,300. One wonders, over ten years on, how many of those remain.

Current estimates vary, but a conservative estimate would indicate that not more than 70-90,000 hippos remain on the entire continent. The IUCN classifies hippos as valuable and CITES lists them on Appendix II – without much knowledge of their current populations and rates of decline. In addition, western African hippos deserve their own taxonomic status.

The high level of hippo ivory involved in trade, trophy hunting offtake, habitat loss, human conflict and bushmeat offtake all add up to a sad future for hippos – and I would argue in favour of adding Hippopotamus amphibius to be added to our list of gravely threatened animals.

Picture credit:  http://bit.ly/1myASyO 


Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:49

A possible remedy to bushmeat poaching

Wednesday 17th September 2014

bushmeat snares
 Lots of snares but no poachers caught


All over Africa, poachers are setting wire snares to catch wildlife. Some do it on a small scale to feed their families, others do it on a commercial scale to sell bushmeat on local markets by the hundreds of kilos. The so called “by-catch” or collateral damage of these snares is that very many predators like lions get caught and die needless deaths.

The response has usually been to employ anti-poaching teams from wildlife departments or NGOs to remove snares.

In my opinion, this has for many years been possibly a wrong response. While it might benefit those to show piles of collected snares (see picture above) as a means of indicating that they are combating poaching, the reality is that in short order the poachers put out new snares.

It might seem like a strange suggestion, but I would advocate leaving the snares in place. Obviously the snares should be rendered ineffective so they can no longer catch animals, but by leaving the snares in place you will be able to snare the poachers.

The weak link in using snares is that the poachers need to visit them regularly to determine what they have caught. Such checks must occur regularly, as an animal left in a snare for too long can be eaten by a predator – or the meat will rot.

So snares can be used to catch poachers as well. Either by setting ambushes for those coming to check their snares, or photographing them with hidden trail cameras as they inspect the snares.

So instead of collecting piles of snares, you could collect piles of photographs of the poachers. The cameras these days are quite sophisticated and are activated by motion sensors. They can take pictures by day and night without the subject knowing they have been snapped.

The bushmeat trade is worth far more than the illegal ivory trade these days, and is destroying wildlife at a great rate. Also, it appears that a significant number of snares are placed inside protected areas, as poachers can operate freely there.

Time to stop collecting snares as evidence of doing something against poaching activities. Deactivate the snares and collect the poachers.


Picture credit: http://bit.ly/1spbxDY 



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:22

Lion trophy 


A comprehensive report was published by the Controller and Auditor General of the United Republic of Tanzania in December, 2013. 

The Auditor General identified these shortcomings:

  1. Tourist hunting generated more than 91 billion Tanzania Shillings in three years between 2009 and 2012 (about $18 million annually to Government coffers). Despite this contribution realized from the wildlife sector, a number of problems make wildlife a concern, especially to the socio-economic status of the communities in bordering wildlife protected areas. These problems include: conflicts with other land uses, poaching, habitat loss, pollution, global warming and introduction of exotic species;
  2. Patrols are not regularly conducted during the rainy season, despite consistent poaching events. Surveillance coverage was 37% and 47% in 2010/11 and 2011/12 respectively. This is far below the set target of 60% coverage;
  3. Annual assessment of hunting companies was based on 40% utilization of quota and omitted other performance measures. There were incidences of non compliance with the trophy criteria set. There were no actions taken to non compliance or substandard trophies. 49% of the 108 hunting permit forms were not filled at all to indicate the habitat or ecology where the animals were hunted. A total of 366 wild animals in 2009 and 2011 were killed without quota allocation;
  4. None of the hunting companies submitted annual contribution of 5000 USD during the interim period (this is a fee charged for development of communities living with wildlife).
  5. Not all stakeholders are fully involved in law enforcement [anti-poaching, preventing illegal wildlife trafficking]. Hunting activities are not monitored.

The report ends with a number of recommendations.

Overall, this is indicates a very poor performance of the Tanzania hunting sector in terms of conservation of wildlife. It should be noted that the Tanzanian hunting sector has come under criticism for at least ten years now (e.g Baldus.R. D and Cauldwell A. E (2004), Tourist hunting and its Rolein Development of Wildlife Management Areas in Tanzania), and that this is the latest in a number of negative performance reports.

It is high time that reform is taken seriously and conservation of wildlife in Tanzania is accepted to take precedence over all forms of utilization.


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you. 


Tags: Tanzania,

Categories: Lion Trophy Hunting

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:19

How easy it is to hunt a lion....

Saturday 13th September 2014

How easy it is to hunt a lion 

 Baited and in the bag


This is taken from a hunt report involving Neil Duckworth, a professional hunter with Mokore Safaris in Zimbabwe and the woman hunter pictured above:

“We were able to take [a] nice buffalo cow on the first morning. By the afternoon hours she was hanging in two locations for lion bait after a lot of time and effort was put into selecting the perfect bait / blind sites.

On day 2 we spent most of the day trying for a zebra to add to our lion baits and building blinds at the existing bait sites from the day before. With all set all we needed was for a lion to show.

On day 3 … we saw a big lion track crossing the Sengwa river going away from the bait site. We kept our fingers crossed and on arrival at the bait we could see a big male with 10" mane hair had fed. Fortunately the blind was set up already so we left with the plan of being in the blind late afternoon. 5 pm saw us back in the blind, at first glance all looked quite [sic], Jordan the camera man was setting up the camera and on zooming in on the bait noticed that the lion was there but sleeping in the grass behind. Daylight was fading fast and we prayed he would get up. With maybe 10 minutes of shooting light he finally got up,, walked behind the bait roaring going to the left. Due to the low light through the scope I was struggling to pick him up under the shade of the bait tree. Fortunately he moved around to the right side of the tree and stood perfectly broadside under the bait. With a solid rest and a squeeze on the trigger of my 375 Dakota the lion jumped into the air growling ,bit the bait and then came growling straight towards the blind, stopping 50 yards directly to our left. After 5 minutes of growling it went quiet [sic]. We inched out to the truck, all climbed in and went to the bait. From the bait we could see a large blood trail. After a very nerve wracking [sic] follow up in the dark and thick cover we found him stone dead in a thick bush. This was a massive relief that he was dead and no one got hurt. It was a very fine trophy with an exceptional mane. I was over the moon. So by the end of day three I had my main trophy down. It was a dream come true to take this beautiful maned lion in the wild!!”

And so it goes. Lions are baited everywhere wild lions are hunted – and very often shot from blinds.

The Tanzania Wildlife Act specifically forbids baiting unless with an individual permit from the Director of Wildlife. That same act also prohibits shooting female animals. The Tanzania hunting operators say, however, that baiting for lions has been given a blanket permit. The legality of this is questionable, but nobody has chosen to challenge this in Tanzania. The Wildlife Act also specifically prohibits hunting from blinds.

Are there such rules in Zimbabwe?

The Zimbabwe Wildlife Act has lots of rules and regulations, but does not include any regulations about how animals are allowed to be hunted.

So why all this baiting?

In short, it brings the lion to the hunter. All hunting organizations supposedly espouse the principle of “fair chase” for free-ranging wildlife. Fair chase means that the prey has the ability to elude the hunter, and challenges the skills of the hunter.

But that is just a romantic notion these days it would seem. Hunters spend considerable sums of money to “collect” their trophies, and the hunting operators compete with each other for clients. Those operators who deliver the most trophies to their clients do best in this competition, and baiting is now part of the formula. Is it legal? That is arguable. Is it ethical? That is even more arguable. Is it hunting? That is not arguable – the answer is a clear NO.

But “recreational hunters” are not really hunters are they? They want their trophy and are willing to take whatever shortcuts are offered.

And yet they still say it aids conservation? As they cannot help themselves in publishing these hunting reports, we have long known how trophy hunts are conducted. And we can make up our own minds.


Picture credit: http://bit.ly/1pe3uYV 



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

2 Comments | Posted by Chris Macsween at 16:58

Slaughter – part 2….

Wednesday 10th September 2014

I recently posted this on the LionAid Facebook site -

“Have a look at these pictures of male lions being shot as trophies in Cameroon. They are all subadults, ranging in age from about 2-3 yrs.

There are only about 100-200 lions remaining in Cameroon, and the trophy hunters are shooting animals without any regard to conservation.

78% of all lions hunted in Cameroon are shot by European hunters, most from France.”

Slaughter part 2 

Now have a look at this lion shot in Burkina Faso – it is no more than 1.5 years old, so little more than a cub.

Slaughter part 3 

The lion is so young it even has spots – and no mane whatsoever. Clearly, hunters are taking younger and younger lions as the populations of lion in Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroon are in freefall decline. The image comes from the most recent edition of French magazine called Voyages de Chasse (Hunting Travel) and was described as a “magnificent lion”….

We have provided these images to the EU, and we trust action will soon be taken to prevent any further imports of lion trophies from western Africa. There cannot be any justification for shooting such young animals….

Picture credits – various Cameroon hunting operator sites and www.voyages-de-chasse.com


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2 Comments | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:58

A tale of two conspirators?

Wednesday 10th September 2014

A tale of two consirators

Two “free range” lions shot at Tam Safaris courtesy of Seaview?


We by now all know the connections between lion breeding facilities and canned hunting operations. However, the breeding facilities often disguise themselves as lion conservation entities. In fact, they attract many paying volunteers and tourists to pet and interact with lion cubs.

They say that these lion cubs are all “orphans” to be raised to “somehow” be returned to the wild in the future. Yes, they are orphans as they are taken away from their mothers at a few days old to be raised by “volunteers” and petted by tourists. But their future is not in the wild, it is to eventually be hunted.

All along the value chain, these cubs in captive breeding facilities are exploited. By paying volunteers, by petting tourists, supplied to wedding ceremonies and schools, supplied to “walking experiences” – there is no limit to inventiveness by the breeders. And at the end of the day the lions end up as hunting trophies, skins, and bones for the Asian “traditional” medicine trade.

It is said that you can use any part of a pig except the squeak. The same applies to captive bred lions.

Captive breeders have always claimed innocence. But now a report by The Herald, a local newspaper in the Port Elizabeth area of South Africa has shot down such claims.

A parallel report by associated news organization Times Live said this:

“Lions and tigers from Port Elizabeth's Seaview Predator Park are being sold to game farms known for hunting and the exporting of animal bones.

Although the park has refused to comment, Eastern Cape department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo has confirmed that:

The park has sent 22 lions to Cradock hunting reserve Tam Safaris since 2008; and
Two tigers have been sent from the park to the country's leading bone exporter, Letsatsi la Africa, in the Free State since 2008. Nine lions were sent last year.
Earlier this year, the Weekend Post revealed television show hosts, major league sports stars, wealthy entrepreneurs and a former US Congressman were among those who had hunted at the family-run Tam Safaris.

Departmental permits indicate there have been 86 lion hunts at the reserve over the past six years.

Tam Safaris owner Irvin Tam confirmed it had bought lions from Seaview Predator Park, owned by Janice and Rusty Gibbs.

"I have an agreement with them but can assure you that none of these lions from Seaview are used for hunting.

''They are specifically used to breed and bring new blood into our breeding projects," he said.

"Those lions are then either sold or used for hunting.

"I must stress again that all our hunts are legal and completely by the book."

Tam Safaris exported 32 lion carcasses to Vietnam in 2011, 738kg of lion bones and teeth in 2012 and 459kg of lion bones, claws and teeth last year.”


Seaview, in their public messages say this:

“As the name implies, the Seaview Game and Lion Park’s main attraction is the lions. At present, the lion population is approximately 55, of which nearly 25 are sub-adults and cubs.

All the lion cubs born at the Park are hand-reared and for a small fee may be handled by the public. When lions are hand-reared and become familiarized and imprinted with humans, THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE HUNTED. [capitals mine]
Our healthy, adorable cubs continue to receive many accolades. They are inoculated against all known feline diseases and rabies, and are free of Feline AIDS and TB. All the cubs are micro-chipped.” 

Tam Safaris says this:

“Tam Safaris have been hunting free ranging Lion for over seven years. There are three dedicated Lion reserves, comprising over 25,000 acres, devoted to free range Lion. These exclusive hunts have been very well received by hunting communities and are especially popular with clients who do not want to hunt “canned” Lion.”


“Tam Safaris is the first accredited private game reserve in South Africa for free roaming Lion Hunting; based on the National Draft Policy, Norms and Standards for large predators. The unprecedented success of this hunting opportunity relates directly to five years of hard work and well-developed infrastructure and dedicated game management programs. This has resulted in the accreditation of three related hunting areas for the fair chase hunting of the magnificent African Lion.”

The “gallery” of canned lions is available on the Tam Safaris website.

So – Seaview does not sell lions to hunting organizations and Tam Safaris does not hunt canned lions?

Is this a convenient story? Is the truth very different? Does it show that Seaview has been manipulating volunteers and tourists and Tam Safaris has been manipulating “hunters” into believing they hunt “free-roaming lions”? And then does it participate in the lion bone trade as well?

It seems, in short, a clear expose of how the canned lion hunting industry works. And, if correct, how sordid the whole business really is. Well done The Herald and various people in the Port Elizabeth area working together to bring all this to our attention.

Picture credit: www.tamsafaris.com


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Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:57

Spare a thought for caracals

Monday 8th September 2014


A trophy and at the same time saving small livestock?


First of all what is a caracal? A few facts:

  • It is the fourth-largest cat in Africa after lions, leopards and cheetahs.
  • It is variously classified in the genus Felis or its unique genus Caracal.
  • It has a wide geographic range, currently including Africa, Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It is only common in southern Africa. 
  • It is classified as a “problem” animal in South Africa and Namibia because it can prey on small livestock.
  • Caracals appear to have held some religious significance for the ancient Egyptians. They were found in wall paintings, their bodies embalmed, and sculptures of caracals and other cats guarded tombs.

There no reliable estimates of caracal populations, and their population trend is “unknown” according to the IUCN. CITES lists African caracals on Appendix II and Asian caracals on Appendix I.

As caracals are “capable” of taking small domestic livestock, they are often subject to persecution. Over the years 1931-1952 an average of 2,219 caracals EACH YEAR were killed in control operations in the Karoo, South Africa. Similarly, Namibian farmers responding to a government questionnaire reported killing up to 2,800 caracals in 1981.

These days, CITES export records show that from 2003-2012, South Africa exported 871 skins, 144 “bodies”, 1152 skulls and 4824 hunting trophies. Namibia came a distant second with 239 skins, 10 bodies, 58 skulls and 652 trophies.

By far the greatest percentage of the caracal hunting trophies went to the USA of course.

South Africa exported 246 live caracals, most to dubious destinations like the Arab Emirates, China and Myanmar (Burma). South Africa also exported 45 live caracals to the Czech Republic, something worthy of investigation.

Strangely, there are hardly any organizations with direct concerns for caracals. It would seem they are badly needed, but as Africa’s “fourth cat”, and the world public not really aware of this species, it would seem there are few champions of one of the world’s most beautiful cats.


Picture credit: africanskyhunting.co.za


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you.

Tags: Caracals

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:30