Cape Town – On 1 July 2015, Cecil the Lion was killed by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, resulting in the professional hunter having his licence confiscated and facing criminal charges for poaching.
The incident sparked global uproar regarding canned lion hunting and poaching, with the Blood Lions film and campaign running worldwide with the goal to “bring an end to canned hunting and the exploitative breeding of lions and other predators on farms across South Africa”.
But despite all these global efforts to make the general public, tourists and professional hunters aware of the ramifications of pet cubbing and canned hunting, the futile death of lions in many of Africa’s parks continue at the hands of canned hunters.
Two years after the killing of Cecil the Lion, it has been reported that one of his cubs has been shot dead by a big game trophy hunter in Zimbabwe.
The six-year-old lion named Xanda, who was in his prime, was killed in similar circumstances as his father, just outside the Hwange National Park in north-west Zimbabwe, not far from where Cecil was killed in 2015.
“His death was discovered because Xanda was wearing an electronic collar, fitted by researchers monitoring his movements in the area,” reports the The Telegraph.
According to the UK news site, “when the Zimbabwean professional hunter on the shoot, Richard Cooke from RC Safaris, discovered the dead lion had a collar, he handed it back to the researchers”.
Andrew Loveridge from the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, which has a team supplying and fixing collars to monitor the lions in the Hwange National Park, says he fitted Xanda’s collar last October. “It was monitored almost daily and we were aware that Xanda and his pride were spending a lot of time out of the park in the last six months, but there is not much we can do about that,” he told The Telegraph.
“Richard Cooke is one of the ‘good’ guys. He is ethical and he returned the collar and communicated what had happened. His hunt was legal and Xanda was over 6 years old so it is all within the stipulated regulations,” he adds.
Loveridge says he hoped that there would soon be a 5km exclusion zone around the Hwange National Park so that hunters would no longer accidentally shoot collared lions that wonder outside the boundary of the Park.
“The client may have paid about £40 000 (R674 400 at R16.86/£) for the shoot and for Xanda’s head to be cured and mounted and sent to him wherever he lives,” says The Telegraph.
Remembering Cecil the Lion
Cecil the Lion’s death in 2015 placed the spotlight on trophy hunting in Africa. Although the practice is not a novelty, more and more pressure has been put on the industry’s distorted ethical arguments, in a bid to stop lion trophy hunting for good.
Cecil was killed by US hunting tourist, Walter Palmer, who reportedly has a hunting felony history, faced charges for the illegal hunt.
The 13-year-old big cat was shot at night near his birth place, close to the national park. He didn’t die immediately and was tracked down the following day. His head was cured in Bulawayo in preparation to be dried and mounted when police seized it.
The world united to bring attention to the crime committed and an image of Cecil was even projected onto the Empire State building in protest of the trophy hunt.
According to The Telegraph, more than 70% of funds to safeguard Zimbabwe’s wildlife and catch poachers come from revenue from professional hunters.
Overview of ground made to protect lions in Africa
– Australia and France have placed bans on importing lion trophies.
– The Netherlands has placed a ban on importing trophies from lions and 200 other endangered species.
– The US (the country with the most hunter-tourists) has made significant changes to have stricter import requirements. Since January 2016, hunters wishing to import lion trophies must prove that the killing was necessary to protect lions living in the wild – which is in general very difficult to do. South African sources show that lion hunts involving hunters from the United States have decreased by 70%.
Great Britain is threatening to ban imports from 2017 if the African countries of origin do not maintain their lion numbers more effectively.
– Over 40 international airlines have banned or restricted the carrying of trophies.
– The South African hunting association PHASA has taken a firm stand against the official lion breeders in the country, the South African Predator Association (SAPA) and has distanced itself from this cruel form of hunting
Europe’s largest hunting fair, Germany’s “Jagd & Hund”, and the Austrian “Hohe Jagd & Fischerei” fair have undertaken to oppose canned hunting products and packages.
– Several African states have committed to calling for Africa’s lions to be promoted to the highest level of protection (CITES Appendix 1) at the upcoming international World Wildlife Conference, to be held in Johannesburg in September 2016. It is still uncertain whether the application will achieve the necessary majority.
Meanwhile, the South African Government plans to permit the annual export of 800 lion skeletons to curb poaching, but conservationists say this clearly supports canned lion hunting.