Today, August 10, is World Lion Day, an august moment made more poignant by recent death of Zimbabwe’s Cecil, shot with a bow and arrow by trophy hunter Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer, who paid about $50,000 to hunt in Zimbabwe — although not to lure Cecil out of a protected area by dragging meat on a vehicle to get his attention.
Cecil’s death lead to a global uproar around tropy hunting and the reality that of the 200-225,000 lions alive in 1975, only about 25-35,000 are left. About 600 of these majestic creatures are killed for ‘sport’ each year, with tropy hunters making the argument that they are contributing to big game conservation with their dollars paid for rights to hunt big game. In reality, vastly larger sums of money are poured into African economies by safari tourists wanting to see the big game alive in their natural habitat.
Cecil was a 13-year-old male Southwest African lion, part of an ecological study in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park since 2008. “The initiative was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and is one of several conservation projects managed by the university’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU),” writesDiscovery.
Six days ago David McDonald, head of Oxford’s WCR announced the donations were pouring in to the amount of $780,000 plus a $100,000 matching grant from American philanthropists Tom and Daphne Kaplan.
Americans Are Majority of Foreign Hunters of Big Game
Americans comprise the bulk of non-African hunters, writes the New York Times, with about 15,000 American tourists coming to Africa annually on hunting safaris, as estimated by Conservation Force, a lead organization promoting managed big game hunting.
11 African nations currently allow lion-hunting including Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Central African Republic.
In Kenya, a special focus of AOC and GlamTribale, the country continues to lose about 100 lions per year, with a population of just 2,000. Although trophy hunting is not permitted, disease, loss of habitat and conflicts with livestock all contribute to the decline.
Cecil the Lion Update
Breaking news reports say that one of Cecil’s eight cubs has been killed by another male lion. Reports just published in the UK say:
“Lions practice infanticide – the male looking to take over and mate with the three lionesses would have crushed the cub’s skull as he looked to stake his claim.
“The lionesses fended off his advances but it is unlikely they can continue to protect the cubs for much longer.”
“Jericho has now taken over another pride and has been seen with other females,” a source at the park confirmed.
“We don’t know if Jericho would return to help the cubs if they were attacked again.
“They’ve fought each other in the past and Cecil even killed Jericho’s father when he refused to be driven out.
“But despite all that they formed a coalition and became joint leaders of the pride.”