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From The Editor | How Antis Kill More Lions Than Hunters Do

From The Editor | How Antis Kill More Lions Than Hunters Do

Most A1F Daily readers will remember the anti-hunter uproar after the “Cecil the Lion” episode last summer. Now new information out of Zimbabwe is proving just how wrong-headed the anti-hunting furor over lion hunting really was: Those lion lovers’ actions have, in effect, sentenced hundreds of other lions to death.

Just as a reminder: Last summer, big-game hunter Walter Palmer killed a lion while on safari in Zimbabwe. Turns out the lion was radio collared and affectionately called “Cecil” by some animal lovers. Animal rights and anti-hunting zealots persecuted Palmer with unbelievable fervor, even calling for his death and forcing him to abandon his Minnesota dental practice for three months. Later, the Zimbabwean government announced that Palmer had not broken any laws during his safari and that he would not be prosecuted.

Fast forward to this week when the largest wildlife reserve in Zimbabwe announced that it might have to cull 200 of its lions. Why? Because of what some are calling the “Cecil effect”—lion populations “exploding” due to hunters being scared off by outrage over Palmer’s hunt.Park managers say the current population of 500 lions is unsustainable, and they are considering hiring sharp-shooters to kill the excess lions. 

“I wish we could give about 200 of our lions away to ease the overpopulation,” Blondie Leathem, Bubye Valley Conservancy’s general manager, told the National Post. “If anyone knows of a suitable habitat for them where they will not land up in human conflict, or in wildlife areas where they will not be beaten up because of existing prides, please let us know and help us raise the money to move them.”

Problem is, the lion population on that conservancy and in other parts of Africa has boomed because of the reduction in hunting. Park managers say the current population of 500 lions is unsustainable, and they are considering hiring sharpshooters to kill the excess lions.

Hunters and other conservationists cautioned at the time of the Cecil furor that ending lion hunting would have devastating effects. First, lions prey on many other African species, and substantially increased lion numbers can spell disaster for those other game and nongame species. Additionally, hunters pay many thousands of dollars to hunt lions and other large African game, pumping millions of dollars into conservation efforts that wouldn’t exist without the hunter contributions. Because of the drastic decline in lion hunting, in the 850,000-acre Bubye Valley Conservancy managers might be forced to pay to have the excess lions killed, rather than having American or European hunters pay them to hunt the big cats, with much of the funds earmarked for wildlife conservation.

So congratulations to those bleeding-heart animal rights fanatics around the world who went berserk over Walter Palmer’s lion hunt. They’ve managed to kill far more lions than Palmer could ever have killed in a several lifetimes of lion hunts, while at the same time reducing the amount of funding available to manage wildlife species throughout Africa.

I hope they feel good about that.

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