in 2015 the world was in uproar when a dentist from the States went to South Africa and shot a lion.T he shooting of lions is not unusual in South Africa, indeed they do more huntings than many countries. What was considered unacceptable was that this lion was tempted out of a protected area so that it could be shot.
After the outrage over the killing of Cecil the lion British senior ministers in the conservative government promised to ban the import of lions to the UK. Indeed, it was also included in the Conservatives most recent manifesto for their landslide re-election.
So why is it that we are still importing so many lion parts to the UK? The majority of people in the UK feel that hunting of animals like lion as trophies is totally unacceptable and needs to be left in the past. This is shown by the fact that while 60 lions have been shot, in the same period hundreds of thousands of people have travelled to Africa to see lions in the wild habitat.
The conservative government has promised to outlaw the bringing of trophies to the UK and it needs to fulfill its promise. Indeed this is a promise that got a great deal of support in the British public.
The fact is that almost all of the trophy hunters are wealthy people (it isn’t cheap) who are also being courted by the conservatives for donating to the election campaigns, is likely to be the main reason for the delay. If their own self interest means that they do not feel they can ban trophy imports they should not have made the promise.
This is unacceptable and must change. Lion populations have fallen dramatically and are now thought to possibly be as low as 13,000 to 15,000.
I have spoken in the past about the lies told about the lion hunting industry in South Africa. There is no sign of land set aside for lion hunting in South Africa for the animals to be truly wild. They are bred in captivity, often used to meet tourists as cubs and then released into relatively small enclosures and shot often days or weeks later. This is not a wild lion it is a pet- it is not unlikely that if the hunter missed and there was no one else to take the shot the lion would come and nozzle them as a domestic cat. Certainly with their guide standing behind them, there is nothing brave about shooting a lion there is no risk to them – bar saying look I have more money than I have sense I do not know what it is supposed to imply.
As I have argued in previous articles, there are places where however disinterested I am personally, the shooting of lions does not strike me as unreasonable. The Selous in Tanzania is a vast game reserve, and apart from its poaching epidemic it is a wonderful place that supports many different whale species – including around a third of the remaining African population of lion and wild dog among others. Unfortunately this reserve is infected with tsetse fly which can carry sleeping sickness and is the reason that people don’t live in the area. As such at the moment there are nowhere near enough photographic safari people to support the protection of such a large area, and indeed with a take of only 1 or 2% of the lion population this seems reasonable. However despite setting aside 95% of the 50,000 square miles for hunting there is also 2,500 square miles of wilderness for photographic safari.
It is not a cheap destination and poorly advertised. However our trip was different to anywhere else I have been.one of the advantages of such a huge area was the fact that the lions are less used to people. We had a wonderful encounter with the lion visiting our camp while eating our supper one night.
I don’t as yet list the Selous game reserve as a destination, but I hope to in the future and if the number of tourists increase we could easily see former hunting and sessions been given over to photographic safari companies instead.