Not too long ago I received the above photos in support of a petition to Delta Airlines to ban the shipment of trophies from South Africa. South African Airlines has already done so.
When I saw the photos I immediately thought that these were the essence of capitalism – cost/benefit winning out over ethics. Then again, what do I know? I’m just a retired old crank living in Florida who put down his gun in 1967 after four years service and has not touched one since. I own no gun though I am going on 73 and live alone. My children own no guns nor have they ever seen one or touched one in the flesh so to speak.
There has been a drop in the hunting of wild lions in Tanzania and Zimbabwe over recent years. There is a simple explanation:
a) Cost. Hunting wild lions is expensive, and given a cheaper option in South Africa with “canned hunts”, cost-conscious hunters looking for bargains might be avoiding safaris that can set them back $100,000 to settle for a trophy that will cost far less than half that.
b) Both Tanzania and Zimbabwe have allowed shooting of lions at an unsustainable rate in past years, with the result that fewer and fewer lions occur in hunting concessions. In Tanzania, hunters were consequently shooting lions as young as two years old, a practice that is now no longer “allowed” by the Government though enforcement is another matter.
In Zimbabwe, hunters lure lions out of protected areas to be shot, and shoot lions within protected areas with complicity and corruption of the wildlife authorities. Allegedly, some hunting concessions in Zimbabwe are now so depopulated of trophy lions that they are importing captive bred lions from South Africa to be shot.
C) Success rate. Clients must pay for their safaris (but not the trophy fees) whether or not they manage to shoot a lion. Some hunters, a small minority, are willing to spend money on successive trips to finally shoot “their” lion, but the word does get out among the hunting community when increasing numbers of would-be lion hunters keep returning empty-handed.
So what to do?
Shoot “canned” lions in South Africa where they are bred in fenced areas – the “hunter” is guaranteed a trophy at a much lower cost.
Any “canned” lion hunter is guaranteed success, as every lion available to be bought is assigned to a particular client. There is no hunting season. The hunting operators generally “demand” a seven to ten-day safari, and the “hunter” might not be provided with the lion to shoot until some days have passed. The first few days are spent “searching” for the lion by the gullible client on the larger game ranches, but when the lion is set out in the right area, the client is taken straight there. Lions might have only been transported the evening before, and are generally provided with a bait to keep them fixed in a particular spot. As these are lions very used to humans, clients can generally walk right up to their target to take an “easy” shot.
“What does this say about all the “hunter-conservationists” we read so much about? They supposedly shoot lions to benefit the species by spending lots of money to employ people and benefit communities, build schools and clinics, and put funds in Government coffers to be used for wildlife protection.
But if they are defecting at a great rate from such high moral stances to shoot captive raised lions in South Africa, how serious about conservation were they in the first place? It is beginning to look like all they cared about was a lion trophy by any means or standards – underage, lured from a protected area, or captive-raised?”
In the early 1960’s, when Tanzania was still Tanganyika, I saw wild rhino close up – they were as easy to find as Kilimanjaro. No more.
Lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos are killed for profit by poachers and by the egos of “hunters” for their orgasmic self-gratification. They should be ashamed to leave such images for their posterity.
For more information on those working in Africa to save lions see: