Those who would eliminate sport hunting of lions ignore the simple fact that Africans loathe the great cats, and absent major incentives to co-exist with them, they will find a way to deal with the problem. I freely concede that the lion has been overhunted in many areas. Some greedy safari companies have abused the resource, and continue to do so.
We sport hunters, partly out of ignorance and partly out of pride, have been too insistent on hunting success, often to the detriment of the resource. Here, however, is where the hunting community and the anti-hunting community diverge on the question of lion hunting. The anti-hunters believe (or at least pretend to believe) that elimination of sport hunting will be good for Africa’s lion population. I believe, and I hope I’m joined by all hunters in this belief, that the uplisting of the African lion to Appendix I, changing its status from “Threatened” to “Endangered,” would be the death knell for the lion across most of his remaining range.
I believe very strongly that we as hunters must clean up our act. The primary management tool must be a sensible and sustainable quota. Operators and hunters alike must observe that quota with a religious fervor. We must strive to take older males, and we must avoid taking males from a pride. We should probably accept that we cannot convince the anti-hunters, but we must strive to make the scientific community, the wildlife managers, and the non-hunting public aware that there are three irreplaceable benefits to carefully-regulated sport-hunting of lions: First and perhaps foremost, hunting places value on this traditional enemy of all rural Africans. Second, as with all hunting, lion hunting serves as a management tool. Third, lion hunting can reduce the inevitable human-lion conflict.
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