With the recent uproar of the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe, we thought we would delve into the land of trophy hunting for ourselves and what devastating affects it has on the animal population.
Why, when it is suggested there are fewer than 20,000 lions left in the wild, is it still legal to kill these marvellous creatures, especially in these inhumane and disrespectful ways. The primary cause of lions disappearing is that of trophy killings, with approximately 665 lions being killed every year from these killings. 60% of all lions killed for sport in Africa are being shipped to the US as trophies for those rich enough to pay thousands in order to shoot a healthy animals for pure enjoyment. Trophy killings harm the lion population as they kill off perfectly healthy animals, with the male being the most sought after trophy of wealthy foreign hunters. It is not only the lion that is harmed, when the male lion is killed the lions pride is harmed as outside males compete to take over the pride. The poor male lion’s cubs are then killed by the new pack leader, resulting in the loss of the entire generation of the pack.
Trophy hunting is a counter-evolutionary sport as it takes the healthy, large robust animals out of the pack, which are able to protect their mates and cubs and contribute their winning genes to future generations; leaving their pack open to attacks which they cannot defend.
Trophy hunting is supposed to bring millions of dollars in revenue to local people in poor communities, however there is no evidence of this. With only 3% of the revenue from trophy hunting ever making it to the communities affected by the hunting; the rest going to national governments and foreign based outfitters.
The money from hunting pales in comparison to the billions that comes in from tourists looking to see the wildlife in these areas. If lions and other animals continue to disappear from these countries, a vital source of income will disappear, drastically impacting locals. African Lions are the only big cat that are not protected by the endangered animals act, however there has been recent talk about adding them to the list.
The recent death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist has sparked much interest in the topic of animal rights, with the Mr Palmer having payed £35,000 to illegally kill the locally known and loved lion, by luring him out of the sanctitude of his national park.
Cecil was lured out of his home in the Hwange national park earlier this month by hunters who at night tied a dead animal to their vehicle in order to lure Cecil into range. The Hunter and land owner had no permit for hunting and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt, with the dentists claiming that he thought the trip to be legal and handled properly.
Aged 13 years old, Cecil was believed to have been killed on July 6th, when he was lured from the national park, shot and injured with a crossbow. The group then proceeded to follow the wounded lion and 40 hours later shot him dead with a gun, skinning his carcass and beheading him.
Cecil the Lion was the leader of two prides, containing 6 lionesses and around 24 cubs, whose fate now looks ominous it seems. He was being monitored by students at Oxford University by a CPS tracker collar in order to track his movements.
The group are said to be appearing in court on August 5th, with potentially facing 15 years in prison if found guilty. Mr Palmer has been in trouble with the law in the past when he received a felony record for killing a Black Bear in Wisconsin in 2006, after which he was given a years’ probation and a $3000 fine. The dentist is said to have around 43 registered kills, such as Bison’s, Leopard’s and even a Rhino.
The controversial killing has led to the “Justice for Cecil” petition which raked up 250,000 signatures in the first 24 hours. The petition states that when 500,000 signatures have been reached it will be sent to Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, calling for him to stop issuing hunting permits to kill endangered animals. If every one of those signatures could donate $1 they would make a real difference.
The pro-hunting side of the argument states that without trophy hunting there would be no lions at all as the land would be used for farming, which would accelerate the loss of wildlife. The hunting industry alone is believed to have contributed over £130 million a year to African governments, through permits and taxes; which is used to support national parks and wildlife conservations. Lions alone are said to generate 17% of all of Africa’s hunting income and tend to attract the highest prices from hunters, starting from around $35,000 per lion for a male lion.
The idea is that when hunting is well managed, the jobs and money generated give local people an incentive to suppress poaching and keep animals alive. Conservationists say that more serious for lion conservation than trophy hunting, is that of habitat fragmentation, conflict with pastoralists over livestock and the loss of range land.
What are your views?