The South African Predator Association wants to express its utmost dismay and disappointment about the recent killing of 3 of the desert lions featured in the well-known documentary film Vanishing Kings. The burnt remains of these precious lions were discovered near Tomakas in the Kunene region in Namibia. They were allegedly poisoned by semi-nomadic cattle farmers after some stock losses occurred. This comes after another member of this group had been shot by a disgruntled famer in the recent past. These events illustrates the intricate problem of human-lion conflict being experienced in many parts of Africa, as well as the complexity of managing free-roaming lion populations in the wild, especially in underdeveloped and desolate areas.
Almost equally disappointing, is the fact that so-called wildlife activists are using tragic incidents of this nature as a springboard for indiscriminate attacks against the lion trophy hunting industry in general. Within this context, a certain activist group is urging the Namibian authorities "to urgently review their lion conservation strategy and recognise that their current policies, based on a trophy hunting model, are leading to the further decimation of the already highly threatened desert lions."
Objectively viewed, these incidents were primarily caused by ongoing human-lion conflict in the area and the ever diminishing natural habitat available to wild lions. To allege a causal relationship between the practice of a so-called trophy hunting model and the killing of these lions, lacks logic.
Well managed and strictly regulated trophy hunting in national parks and reserves must in principle be allowed to control overpopulation (if necessary) and then the focus should be on old lone males (older than 6 years of age as per government and scientifically agreed criteria) that have already raised cubs, been kicked out of their prides, and no longer contribute to the gene pool. These lions generally end up getting killed by other lions, perish of their wounds from fighting, or die of starvation - either from wounds or starvation due to lost canines impeding their ability to hunt effectively.
It is also important to note, that in South Africa for example, the accredited and regulated lion breeding and trophy hunting industry, as endorsed by Government and the South African Predator Association, does not pose a threat to lion populations in the wild. In actual fact, this industry is aiding the growth of wild lion populations, as locally an increase in the numbers of lions in the wild has been observed. This is because the availability of captive-bred lions for trophies has just about wiped out the demand for wild lion trophies. The local ranch lion industry has also satisfied the lion bone market, which made incursions by poachers into our national parks unprofitable.
In this manner the captive-bred and trophy hunting sector is contributing towards the conservation of the lion in the wild. Therefore, the South African Predator Association invites all rational role players who also have the interest of the wild African lion at heart, to support its accreditation drive aimed at eradicating unscrupulous breeding and hunting practices in the industry.
Photos: Desert Lion Conservation Trust
Vanishing Kings - Desert Lions of the Namib