It must pay for it to stay
The Lion Conservation Task Force (LCTF) describes itself as a Texas based non-profit organisation, dedicated to conserving Africa’s wild lions and habitat.
Like many of us, they responded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) call for public comments to consider uplisting the African lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.
Before we tell you what they had to say in this epistle to the USFWS, let us introduce the co-authors :
Colleen Begg Ph.D, Project Leader, Niassa Carnivore Project, Mozambique. Colleen runs a lion research project in northern Mozambique, and she is responsible for assessing the “age” of trophy lions to determine adherence to Mozambique’s stipulations that these lions must be at least 6 years old.
J. Lane Easter, DVM – Co-founder of LCTF. Lane Easter is a dedicated hunter and life member of the Dallas Safari Club.
George Hartley, Professional Hunter, Tanzania Game Tracker Safaris. Hartley’s job description says it all.
Luke Hunter PhD, President Panthera Foundation, Conservation NGO. Luke Hunter is a proponent of lion trophy hunting and is the Foundation now becoming a pro-hunting lobby?
Aaron Neilson, Professional Hunter, President Global Hunting Resources. Aaron Nielsen is a hunting agent in the USA and liaises with African hunting outfitters to provide clients.
Craig Packer PhD, Principal Investigator Serengeti Lion Project. Craig Packer has been running the Serengeti Lion Project for well over two decades. He has used computer models to indicate that shooting lions over six years old is “sustainable” even though such males are only just taking over prides in many locations in Africa. Packer has recently provided evidence that trophy hunting of lions in Tanzania was unsustainable, but looks like he now sits on the fence?
Paula A. White PhD, Director Zambia Lion Project. Paula White is representing the International Professional Hunters Association at the CITES meeting.
Karyl Whitman PhD, Wildlife Biologist. Karyl Whitman came up with the “pink nose” theory to age lions – supposedly by the time lions are 6 yrs old, their noses are 50% black. A highly controversial aging method widely rejected. Karyl has published on “sustainable” hunting of lions and worked together with hunting lobby Conservation Force to produce a field guide for the ageing of lions.
So, did the President of a prominent conservation NGO, wildlife biologists and lion project leaders finally convince the hunters of the error of their ways? Sadly not, in fact they ALL agreed that the trophy hunting of lions is the very best way to conserve them and remind us that “In Africa: it must pay for it to stay”…..
This is what they recommend:
They want to introduce the “Huntable Male Lion” – a non-impact huntable subset of male lions. In case you are confused, this is a lion aged six or over, has completed one breeding cycle and is not known to head a pride or be part of a coalition heading a pride with dependent cubs. If this lion can be an older individual known to be no longer associated with any pride, then he is their ideal trophy target!
This is despite considerable information that male lions in natural populations keep reproducing until very late in life – they form new coalitions, shift prides, and keep going. In studies in Botswana, males evicted from a pride by stronger coalitions roamed widely and took over several other prides before they died. There just is not a non-reproductive “huntable male lion”. It has been shown many times in trophy hunter manipulated populations where males are constantly removed that there is little reproduction and considerable disruption to pride structure.
How desperate are the hunters getting to hang on to right to hunt lions? Do they not realise how absurd they sound?
They admit that their “definition” hasn’t met with much enthusiasm amongst the hunting fraternity, in fact only the Dallas Safari Club in the USA has so far adopted their amazing plan, but they say they are working to accomplish “global acceptance”. In fact, Lane Easter recently said on the accuratereloading website “Unfortunately...we still do not have a lot of good to show for ourselves. Tanzania did not make a good showing with the new law and many young dead lions showed up on the internet again”.
They go on to outline a set of complicated rules and procedures that they wistfully hope the hunters and outfitters will follow. Why should they? It has been a failed formula for the past many decades and the only thing lion hunters want to conserve is their profits. We have stated before that NONE of the reductions in quotas and minimum age requirements have come from the hunters themselves. It was imposed by the governments and immediately the hunters sought ways around such rules. In Zambia, where Paula White is based, a voluntary age minimum for trophies lasted a short time, and now hunters are killing young males again, hunting on the borders and within national parks, and generally acting as usual as they cannot and will not hunt sustainably. The situation is no different in other lion range states that permit trophy hunting.
It is clear that lions are greatly desired by trophy hunters. At a recent Safari Club International convention, something like $1.3 million was raised in short order “for lions”. It now appears that this slush fund could be used to challenge the US Fish and Wildlife Service in court if they are so bold as to include African lions on their Endangered Species Act – that will prohibit trophy imports among other regulations in trade.
Desired as lions might be, trophy hunting must stop. You cannot continue to advocate a continued offtake of lions given the current freefall decline of the species. You cannot continue to insist that a failed formula will suddenly work again with the same players who created the problems in the first place. You cannot keep insisting that trophy hunters continue to deprive African nations of their wildlife heritage no matter how well they bribe local officials. Despite all claims trophy hunting has NEVER been shown to be a conservation formula for wild populations of any species in Africa.
There are those who will support trophy hunting as there are funds to be derived. They will say that the impact of trophy hunting is unknown, but that is because the hunting concession owners steadfastly refuse independent analysis of their lion populations. They will say that rural Africans can benefit from trophy hunting despite decades of practice that show the income is minimal. They will continue to insist that African nations are provided revenue from trophy hunting despite all indications this is minimal and largely benefits a few elites.
Lion trophy hunting should go extinct before the lions do.
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