With the shooting of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion still fresh in the mind, the Lowveld also remember the killing of Batian

As the world celebrated International day of the Lion on August 10, people were remembering Cecil the Zimbabwean lion, that was killed by an American trophy hunter.

Lion expert, Mr Gareth Patterson spoke to Lowvelder about facts and figures of trophy hunting with the impact it had on the lions themselves.

He also talked about the one killing that affected him directly in the Hectorspruit area in 1998: a lion killing on the farm of Mr Roy Plath.

He also talked about the one killing that affected him directly in the Hectorspruit area in 1998: a lion killing on the farm of Mr Roy Plath.

It was his Batian, the last of the Adamson lions, with his two sisters, which Patterson rescued and rehabilitated back into the wild, after the murder of legendary lion man, Mr George Adamson. Batian was only three years old and just like Cecil, lured by artificial means out of the safety of the park he was in, and shot dead.
The killing was arranged by Plath, a banana farmer in the area.

“There are amazing and even chilling similarities between the recent killing of Cecil and that of Batian 17 years ago. The sad thing is that this way of killing a lion is common to trophy hunting. We are currently losing about 900 lions a year. Up to 60 per cent of the killers are trophy hunters from the United States and 40 per cent are from Europe.” Patterson has done a lot of research into the lion-hunting industry. “What the trophy hunters want is the largest lion with the biggest mane, and what many people don’t realise is that with this unnatural killing, not only one lion dies. The new males coming into the pride would kill all the cubs of the previous alpha male. So sometimes up to 15 cubs will be killed.”

Patterson told Lowvelder that the cost for a canned lion today is between $50 000 and $55 000. “There is a lot of sentiment that this kind of killing is actually paying for conservation. I need to see the proof of this before I would support this in any way. Figures identified by the International Fund for Animal Welfare stated earlier that a mere three per cent of the money goes to nature conservation and parks.”

Thanks to the Internet, there was a huge outcry over the killing of Cecil. This was not possible 17 years ago. “We made a documentary on the killing of Batian and called the film The Cook Report. It was watched by 11 million viewers worldwide. Today this film is nowhere to be found. It was an International Television News production as you know and this firm has undergone many changes over the last 20 years or so.”

There are plans to show the recent documentary film on canned lion hunting, Blood Lions, in the Lowveld. It will be shown on Tuesday October 13 at Uplands Preparatory School in White River. Tickets can be bought at R100 per ticket from Webtickets, on behalf of the production team of Blood Lions. All the proceeds will go to a campaign against canned hunting and predator breeding.

The organiser for this showing is Mr Dex Kotze of Youth for African Wildlife.