Dec 132016

Trophy hunting could help conserve lions, according to the Oxford University scientist who had studied Cecil the lion for years before the animal was killed by an American dentist.

A new report by Prof David MacDonald for UK ministers concluded that strictly regulated hunting of lions could provide a financial incentive to protect areas of wild lion habitat from being destroyed, which is the biggest threat to the big cats. But MacDonald said the UK should ban the import of any lion trophies from hunts that failed to prove their sustainability.

The number of African lions left in the wild has plummeted in the last century and they have disappeared from more than 90% of their historic range. Just 20,000 individuals remain, fewer than the number of rhinos in Africa.

Cecil the lion in November 2013 in Hwange national park, Zimbabwe. Photograph: Sean Herbert/AP

The killing of Cecil the lion in 2015 took place in contravention of Zimbabwe national park rules but criminal charges have since been dropped against those involved. Macdonald said in June that Cecil’s killing was “heartbreaking”.

However, his new report, found there was little evidence that trophy hunting of lions harmed populations on regional or national levels, although it could do so at local levels.

“The big issue here is lion conservation and how it can realistically be achieved. Whether or not I personally like lion hunting is irrelevant,” he said.

“It is unfathomable to me that there could be joy in killing them, but for me the priority is halting, indeed reversing, their decline. Currently the evidence is that trophy hunting contributes to keeping hundreds of thousands of square kilometres available to lions and other wildlife.”

Macdonald said asking whether trophy hunting has the potential to help conservation is a very different question to asking whether it is ethically acceptable. “Of course I understand if people say there are simply no circumstances under which this will be acceptable to me,” he said.

“If so, then they have to look for a mechanism of replacing it with something that is acceptable,” Macdonald said. “That might be people putting their money where their mouth is, buying out the hunting interest and replacing it with some sort of international payment for conservation.”

Jeffrey Flocken, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), said: “While we don’t agree with all of [the report’s] conclusions, it is absolutely correct that we need better vetting of trophy hunting operations, better science, and much more transparency in this debate.”

IFAW opposes trophy hunting and wants the UK to ban such imports. An IFAW report in June found that 1.7 million animal trophies had been exported in the last decade.

Macdonald’s analysis reports that areas for trophy hunting of all animals cover 1.4m sq km in Africa, 22% more land than national parks. He said it would not be possible to convert all of this to safari-based eco-tourism, as some people advocate as an alternative to hunting.

Lions are hunted over an area of 500,000 sq km, the report found, representing about a third of the land where lions occur.

Trophy hunting is estimated to raise more than $200m a year across sub-Saharan Africa, with lion hunting probably accounting for 5-17% of that, depending on the country. About 450 lion trophies are exported each year, according to data from the Convention on the Trades in Endangered Species (CITES), though some of these may be heads, teeth or skins from the same animal.

Trophy taxidermy stuffed by US and German hunters in a Namibian workshop. Photograph: Ton Koene/Alamy Stock Photo

The report recommends that all hunts are overseen by expert and transparent committees that can assess the lion population and set quotas that would ensure the population is not harmed and, ideally, grows. It also said that regulations should ensure a significant amount of the money raised is used for conservation and that only accredited hunters should be used, to reduce the suffering of animals. Macdonald said some lion hunts were well managed, such as in Zimbabwe.

Flocken said: “Many of the recommendations, if implemented, would prove that the hunting industry has dictated policy based on inflated economic arguments. With trophy hunted species like lion and elephant populations crashing, we can no longer allow the killing of imperilled species for fun, based on blind faith that it’s for their own good.”

Only about three lion trophies are imported into the UK each year, but Macdonald said: “While the UK may be a very small player in this, if it is decided this was an opportunity to adopt a regulatory system which increased the likelihood of trophy hunting contributing to lion conservation, perhaps it could be a leader in encouraging other countries to do so as well.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 05 Dec 2016.

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Delbert Smith

Anywhere hunting is allowed and organized you will see animal populations have thrived. USA, South Africa, Namibia and a couple more.

Look at Kenya, populations dive more and more to the point of extinction same with Europe

G.J. Craig

No Trophy Hunting will not help conservation. This information has been shared world wide by African Leaders and Task Groups of Lions and other endangered species.

Grace Neff

If hunting were to be opened up their would be double or triple the killing that is taking place now. Very bad idea.


Hang all the trophy and poachers hunters high,also who ever takes the money as a fee for permit also should be executed!! That my law

Julie Cox

Such a beautiful animal

Craig Young

This poll shows how bigoted people are.

I disagree with trophy hunting, but accept that it probably does aid conservation. Whereas the poll ignores the article and focuses on people’s preconceptions.

Open your eyes, guys.


That is just a ploy used by the terrible trophy hunters – trying to make people think they are doing a good deed when they are horrible Barbaric hunters, killing these magnificent Lions for their bragging rights

Robin Merrifield

This is the 21st century and man is destroying the environment and ecology, most everywhere. TROPHY hunting can no longer be “justified”, or even considered, on economic grounds (listen up Trump family) anywhere. That is a culture and attitude that mankind has moved on, and away, from – killing animals for the thrill of it, is a “thing” of the past. For the sake of our humanity, children, and future of our planet this is about a changed attitude towards real conservation by protection and not destruction – the job of governments, educators, leaders and every parent everywhere.

Delbert Smith

Trophy hunting is providing the land mass and proper management of species including endangered species

The whole point is that humans are making money out of raising and setting-up wildlife for killing. Would these same humans set-up other human beings in the same way for the fun of the kill? Breed them, contain them and then pick them out for a price for some ignorant morons with more money than common sense to have fun with the chase and kill? No. So why think it is OK to do it to animals? Nature is a great conservationist. Mankind want to control far too much for their own satisfaction. Why not stand by the old saying… Read more »
Delbert Smith

Terminex is a insect killing company n the USA

If you want to hunt, build a time machine and go back to the Stone Age.

Delbert Smith

I see below several of the lest educated statements. Even canned hunting was saving the wild lions.

It take huge area of land set aside. Areas the size of half of England. set aside with the natives totally removed too.

It is about money, hunting pays for the damaged the lions do to livestock.

Grandmother is worth more as lion bait in most of wild African than the young buck male human that can work hard.

Look at the Animal numbers in RSA and Namibia, up up up.
Same for America hunted animals rise in numbers and value.


“least” not “lest”.

You should be thankful that there isn’t a season for hunting Idiots who only see wildlife as profit and bragging rights.

Delbert Smith
YOU should be thank full also there is not a season on idiots like you. I speak five languages. Am also currently in Africa defending wildlife from idiot poachers. I train poacher eradication teams. Now I may miss a letter or two while typing to you idiots who do nothing for wildlife. By nothing you don’t support it with hunting license or wildlife stamps you send you more to the 501(C) 3 org. that keep 95% of it for the CEO and so called management team. My wage are being paid by the hunting countries of Africa and the Professional… Read more »
Mike M
THe difficulty is : European immigrants long brought this “hunting preserve” idea from especially England (and Germany) to Africa. The pleasure killing community is long entrenched, and has promoted the killing of wildlife as “management” since they first regarded themselves as saviors of the “dark continent.” Although from Kenya to RSA and Namibia those former colonizers were supposedly removed from political power by independence, they STILL hold those large tracts of land, which should have been nationalized and given over to parks. Although the human population of Africa has multiplied by 15 (!) times in 100 years, and the medical… Read more »

I do not agree with hunting. Food is easily obtainable so the reason for it (hunting) remains the “joy” of the chase and the kill. Why should
humans be allowed to destroy 20,000 lions that are a necessary part of environmental ecosystems when contributing nothing themselves except pollution, destruction and death?

Robert Piller

Just like sustainable palm oil and bird-friendly wind-farms are ‘helping’ conservation too! It’s a sham of an idea, and for the pitiful price for which you can fell a Rhino, not that a higher price would be in any way right.

In order to do something really good for conservation, just for once in their miserable lives, and amass much needed funds at the same time, WWF. and others could so easily adopt our idea on creating habitat and making a fortune.

Please read ‘A Blueprint For Saving The Rainforests.

Delbert Smith

WWF and other leaf licking groups don’t do this for the animals, look at the finance and in America as for financial statements! Look the leader every group has been the same person leading that group of years.

The leader of each group have become millionaires for the bunny huggers ignorance of follow the money!

Ask for their IRS form 990 and other financial statements.

Mike M

The world is not yours to destroy for inane psychopathy.


WWF is a shame and supports Trophy Killing rare and endangered Desert Elephants.

Chris Newman

I am not a hunter and personally I arbour hunting and I cannot understand why anyone would wish to shoot animals for sport. However, we have to put personal emotive rhetoric to one side and look at the facts, and if we do that it is absolutely clear and unarguable that hunting plays a major part of conservation.



You can’t get CONservation from KILLING.

Many “Trophy Animals” are on the brink of Extinction – in great part due to Trophy Killers.

Mike M
Thank you Robin. This killing is domestication, same as any slaughterhouse. Worse, it is for a dissociated psychopathic “pleasure”, the release of testosterone and dopamine in individuals who will waste their inordinate profits on this endogenous drug dependence. Natural processes cause ecosystems to changes , from plants and mobile animals interdependent upon them, to other animals, predators, whose rise and fall track increases in herbivores. other organisms are also part of this complex cycling. Only humans, with their tools and excessive numbers, prevent that cycling through sequestering and destroying the natural flow that is the natural, adapted community of a… Read more »

End trophy hunting and the savagery of this so called “sport”! Horrific pleasures man indulges himself in!