I know the below article from Outdoor Life Magazine is controversial but I want to share it anyway because as a Zimbabwean it is a subject close to my heart. I know the article is about Tanzania but the subject is transferable except that the percentages in Zimbabwe’s case are even higher with regular tourism not bringing in anything like as much as the big game hunters.

I personally have never hunted a lion and even if the national lottery came a calling would the desire ever possess me, I have hunted plains game for meat though and would do so again tomorrow if the opportunity and finances presented themselves.

What do my readers think?


Mr Bunny Chow

Hunting: The Only Way to Save the African Lion 

The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday arguing that the only thing that can save the African lion is legalized hunting.

In the piece, director of wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Alexander N. Songorwa explains that American sport hunters constitute 60 percent of that country’s trophy hunting market and that money from this group finances Tanzania’s game reserves and wildlife management areas. Yes, Dr. Songorwa points out that some of the money for these operations comes from tourists but “[hunters] pay thousands of dollars to pursue lions with rifles and take home trophies from what is often a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Those hunters spend 10 to 25 times more than regular tourists and travel to (and spend money in) remote areas rarely visited by photographic tourists.”

The editorial continues by breaking down how that money impacts the country.

“In Tanzania, lions are hunted under a 21-day safari package. Hunters pay $9,800 in government fees for the opportunity. An average of about 200 lions are shot a year, generating about $1,960,000 in revenue. Money is also spent on camp fees, wages, local goods and transportation. And hunters almost always come to hunt more than one species, though the lion is often the most coveted trophy sought. All told, trophy hunting generated roughly $75 million for Tanzania’s economy from 2008 to 2011.”

If the United States Fish and Wildlife lists the African lion as endangered, as many are proposing, the decision would be “would be disastrous to [Tanzania’s] conservation efforts.”

Lion hunting, of course, is heavily regulated in Tanzania.  Females and lions under 6 years of age may not be hunted.

For now…

If the USFWS lists the African lion as endangered, no one from the US will be hunting them.


  1. TBM says:

    Oh boy, not sure what to say. I’m opposed to hunting in general. And hunting lions–there are so few. Yes hunters pay more, but does it make it right to allow them to do so when lions are so vulnerable?

    • I completely understand that this is a tough and difficult subject, especially for outsiders, but the reality is TBM that hunters and hunting outfits do more for ecology than any other form of tourism. Professional hunters truly love the African bush, they also bring intrinsic value to the animals they hunt and protect, without the education and investment from hunters, the impoverished only see the game they live alongside as vermin/food sources and will poach and eradicate far higher numbers of game than if they are properly managed and protected. As I said I personally have no desire to hunt a lion but understand that there are others who are willing to pay huge money to do so, that money is then pushed back into education and wildlife protection. This link goes through to a description of the CAMPFIRE project in Zimbabwe and gives another side to the argument. http://www1.american.edu/ted/campfire.htm

      • TBM says:

        I see their point and remember having conversations with the owners of camps I visited in Botswana. Everyone said the same thing, they don’t support it but see the need to get the money back into the environment. It’s just a hard concept for me to wrap my brain around. I’ve never supported hunting, unless that is how one is feeding their families. But should rich people get their way just because they have the money to funnel back into the system. I know I’m being stubborn and thinking with my heart.

      • I’d far rather that the locals could be the ones who could hunt and enjoy the environment. I know that growing up in Zimbabwe it used to drive us nuts that rich foreigners would drive us economically out of the tourism and hunting market because they could afford to pay more. There was for a time at least local and foreign rates for hotels, national parks etc. I also feel that Botswana is in a much stronger position than most of Africa as they are a politically stable nation wealthy through mining with tourism and hunting contributing a minuscule percentage to their economy in comparison to say Zimbabwe who would have collapsed even further into economic disaster than they did through the economic mismanagement and corruption of the late nineties and noughties had it not been for the investment of the hunting community.

  2. I have no problem with people who hunt for meat that they intend to feed their family with, but I think trophy hunting is just wrong and such a useless waste!!

    • I’d normally agree with you Cindy and as I said I personally have no desire to partake in trophy hunting but the argument here is that the rich foreigners who do have this desire are funding education and conservation for millions of impoverished Africans with the funds being pushed directly to the communities who need them bypassing the corrupt governments and NGO’s etc. I know that this is a touchy subject for many and difficult for the first world to understand. I also find it hard to stomach that it’s necessary, but at the same time feel it’s my duty to try and do my little bit to bring both sides of the argument forward. Obviously I don’t have any sort of media presence but maybe, just maybe I can do a little bit to bring these issues to the attention of the few people who actually read my ramblings. I put it in the title though, this is an unpopular subject.

  3. Matthew Durr says:

    As a hunter myself, I completely support the way hunting is handled by conservationists–it’s essential in the upkeep of a species. However, this is with the relatively abundant deer population in America. I’m sure lions are extremely different in every way, and I don’t know if the high cost for hunting them in Africa offsets their reproductive capacity. The FWS (at least in my region) generally has their head in order, so if they deem the lion as endangered, I can respect that. It’s not like I can spare the expense to hunt lions anyway… 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments Matt, I have no doubt that Lions are endangered in some areas, this is by no means the case in all areas though, remember too that in the majority of territories only mature males may be harvested. It’s certainly not a decision taken lightly but these few lions hunted fund the protection of the rest.

  4. Bassa's Blog says:

    It is a very difficult issue, especially because of the revenue it generates but I really don’t agree with killing anything for sport.

  5. Does any of this money support efforts to stop poaching?

    • It most certainly does, partly in funding anti poaching patrols etc. But most importantly by attaching monetary value to the animals the people who live along side them transforms the animals from vermin who eat their crops and livestock to something they want to protect as it brings them an income.

  6. I’m having problems believing that an average of 200 lions are killed each year just in Tanzania. Also, “Females and lions under 6 years of age may not be hunted.” I can understand being able to determine a male from a female, but it is that easy to determine age. I can see a man and his son out shooting lions: “Dad! A lioni!” “We can’t shoot that one today, son. It’s still three days shy of six years.”

    • Hi Russell, thanks for taking the time to comment. My understanding is that male Lions will reach sexual maturity and leave the parental pride at around 5 years of age. Let us also remember that Lions aren’t going to be hunted by fathers and sons alone but they will be guided by professional hunters who in many cases will know individual cats. Another guiding factor will be trying to target the individual with the largest mane another indicator of age.

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