National Geographic News
Lion in Kenya.

A lioness ignores her prey at sunset on the plains of Kenya. Can lion hunting support conservation?

Photograph by Darran Rees/Corbis

Melissa Simpson

for National Geographic

Published September 2, 2013

Editor's note: Melissa Simpson is the director of science-based wildlife conservation for the Safari Club International Foundation.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a petition from several animal rights groups to place the African lion on the list of endangered species. By law, species are to be placed on that list only when the Fish and Wildlife Service determines that they are currently "in danger of extinction." In an attempt to garner support for the petition, a proponent claimed recently that the lion is "in danger of disappearing in our lifetimes."

(Related: "Opinion: Why Are We Still Hunting Lions?")

Is the condition of the lion really that dire? Fortunately, the most recent scientific data say no. A comprehensive study published last December concluded that there are between 32,000 and 35,000 lions living in the wild in Africa. The lion population is spread across 27 countries, with nine countries having populations of at least 1,000 lions. (See "The Serengeti Lion.")

Of greatest significance is the fact that 24,000 of the lions, which is at least 68 percent of the total population, live in what the study terms "strongholds." Strongholds are areas that meet "the necessary requirements for [the] long-term viability" of their lion populations.

To qualify as a stronghold, an area must meet these three criteria:

1) a population of at least 500 lions;

2) be legally protected as lion habitat, or be an area where hunting is managed; and

3) contain a population of lions whose numbers are either stable or increasing.

There are ten such areas in Africa. According to the study, the lion populations living in these areas are "large, stable, and well protected," and the populations are therefore "likely to persist into the foreseeable future."

Even the petition itself acknowledges that "one-third of all the lions on the continent could be considered secure under present conservation measures."

Lions: Here to Stay

This is simply not the portrait of a species that is "in danger of disappearing in our lifetimes." The best scientific data do not support the notion that the lion is currently in danger of extinction.

Indeed, at a recent lion workshop convened by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the three lion experts invited to address the assembly—Paula White, director of the Zambia Lion Project; Jason Riggio, principal author of the study cited above; and Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota—were unanimous in their opinion that the lion is not currently in danger of extinction.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service were to take regulatory action and put the African lion on the Endangered Species list, it would be in spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. Such an overreaching decision would deprive the countries that grapple with lion management the resources they need the most. And the most essential resource is money.

According to Dennis Ikanda, director of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute's Kingupira Research Centre, his country generated $75 million in lion hunting alone from 2008 to 2011.

Tanzania also has 15 photo-safari areas, which have been lauded as a non-consumptive alternative to traditional hunting tourism. Unfortunately, only 4 of the 15 photo-safari areas are financially viable. The remaining 11 are subsidized by hunter-generated funds. So without the financial resources provided by hunters to protect habitat and stop poachers, there would be no infrastructure for wildlife management.

Fighting Poachers

The Safari Club International Foundation recognizes that saying that the lion is not currently in danger of extinction is not the same as saying that the lion does not face challenges. The many people and governments, both in Africa and worldwide, who care about the lion must continue to work diligently to address those challenges.

We welcome the recent announcement by U.S. President Barack Obama that he will establish a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking to develop a strategy for supporting global anti-poaching efforts. Poaching of lions, by definition illegal, is a problem for the sustainability of the population. With this announcement, the President has taken a step to elevate the response to the threat that illegal poaching poses for all wildlife.

Recent polling confirms that preventing illegal wildlife trade is the top priority among Americans when asked to rate the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's missions.

President Obama's initiative recognizes that it is illegal poachers, not regulated hunters, who pose a threat to wildlife. As with the regulated hunters in the United States, the regulated hunters in Africa make a vital contribution to conservation efforts, primarily through the revenues their hunting expeditions generate for local communities and wildlife resource agencies.

The financial role international hunters play has a direct correlation to local communities tolerating wildlife nearby. According to a 2004 study in Tanzania, hunting tourism employed approximately 3,700 people annually. In turn, those workers supported 88,240 families. Hunters are part of the solution.

My group also welcomes President Obama's pledge to provide $10 million in aid to African countries to assist them in their efforts to address the problem of illegal poaching. President Obama wisely recognizes that the fight to preserve the many magnificent wildlife species in Africa, not just from illegal poaching, but from a variety of challenges, must be led and ultimately won by the people on the ground in Africa—the people who live in and around the prime wildlife habitats and the people who lead African governments.

The people and governments of lion-range states continue to make progress in their efforts to develop and implement conservation strategies for the African lion. Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are all conducting lion monitoring and research projects.

And most of these countries have adopted regional and national lion management plans; unfortunately, not all of these countries have the financial resources to fully implement them.

Convening a Forum and Raising Money

For the last 12 years, my group has sponsored the annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF). The forum brings together representatives of most of the sub-Saharan governments for a week-long discussion on wildlife management and shared conservation success stories. The coalition provides these countries the opportunity to learn from each other's successes and problems, and to work together to develop strategies for wisely managing their wildlife resources.

Forum participants include wildlife professionals, regulatory officials, and representatives of the hunting industry. Our group is proud to be the prime catalyst and support base for this invaluable discussion forum, which works to promote the development and implementation of policies that will ensure the survival of Africa's remarkable wildlife species for generations to come.

But to implement these strategies, these nations are in dire need of the resources that only managed hunting brings into their economies. In that light, the greatest threat to the lion's future is not from hunting, but from the potential Endangered Species Act listing.

144 comments
BJ DH
BJ DH

key word opinion. SCI has only one agenda, and it's pretty obvious lol.  

Sue Dickinson
Sue Dickinson

By the way, the photo accompanying this article is staged.  Lions and impalas would NEVER be seen like this!  SCI-people, this is a chewing gum advertisement, not the real world!

S.w. Tsang
S.w. Tsang

There is no such thing as responsible hunters! Like responsible cigarette compsnies! Besides being killed by livestock owners, human developments, natural enemies lincluding elephants and other males, lions are poached and are sold on replacement of tiger parts in Asian!

So this woman along with johnjohn jr. Here are behind the time ! They can just kill in those canned hunting farms on lions, tigers, rhinos , cheetahs and other life forms. Even canned hunting causes many lives from the wild!

Now in addition to the death threat from these white weathly and powerful hunters and industry , lions now are being killed in replacement of the wild tigers!

S.w. Tsang
S.w. Tsang

Wrote by ones who are paid by hunters who kill for fun and the industry strive on ignorance and the thirst of some dumb but endangered animals' blood !

Hunters like these weathly arrogant folks do not five a damn about lives and land of others but their goals which is to kill their targets!

John jackson lll wow! So how big the castle do u live? How many endangered lions have you killed. All the damn millions these killers are so proud to state goes to countries and people outside of Africa!

Killers like John jackson the almighty kill the best , the biggest and the strongest , thus the male lions or male zebras or male leopards , which leaves the lions with no big males to protect their females, their prides and their young!

In order to avoid in breeding and kero a healthy gene pool, we know damn well it takes over one thousand lions ! And do not forget! Most of the lions are HIV positive and those in Kruger carry t.b.

Only one per cent of the world wild lion population are male! Why do you think in selous where killers like John boy here and his aid Melissa love to kill hyenas are among the largest! If you take away the big males, hyenas drive! Inbreeding of sons and mothers occur, which is against the well being of the species, created by killers like j.j. Here and this big game hunting industry whore, Melissa!

John Jackson III
John Jackson III

Melissa Simpson of SCI has correctly recited the facts. Moreover, there is much more to support her statement that the lion is not endangered. The recent Duke University Study co-authored by dozens of lion specialists is not the first or only review that concludes there are ten or more lion “strongholds” in East and Southern Africa that are stable or increasing and ensuring the long-term survival of most lion. The Duke University study is only the most recent, peer reviewed, well-reasoned review of the status that confirms a decade of scientific findings and publications.

The most comprehensive reviews have been the Chardonnet Study in 2002 (more than 50 lion specialists), the IUCN and WCS review (more than 70 lion specialists) preceding the Regional Lion Workshops in 2006 and the recent Duke University Study cited by Ms. Simpson. All three show the lion population to be stable (32-37K) over the decade (2002-2012) and “potentially viable for one-hundred years” or more in “strongholds.” Those strongholds are not an accident. Today, wildlife survival and habitat are not accidents. They are safari hunting areas that have been converted and transformed into enormous protected areas (some of the largest in the world) and are semi-protected areas in the form of wildlife management hunting areas. The safari hunting community is not only an important underlying cause for most lion habitat but is the largest provider of the operating budgets of the wildlife departments.

All of the ideologically-based arguing aside, hunters and anglers tend to be naturalists. In the “user-pay” conservation systems that have been established to perpetuate game (lion have been big game for 2,000 years) and its habitat, hunters have long been champions. They most certainly are stakeholders who have the very most to lose with the demise of the African lion.

This is not about why man has always hunted and held hunting in high esteem. The goal today is to use hunting as a conservation tool, which it most certainly can be. The foremost authorities and lion experts have joined together at workshops to formulate plans to save the lion and in many instances have concluded that purposeful sustainable use (safari hunting) will continue to be a cardinal tool. An ESA endangered listing would be contrary to the best available science about the lion’s real status and would reduce wildlife management revenue and a great deal of the lion’s prey and habitat. It would remove many existing instances where sustainable use is contributing to local people’s tolerance of lion.

In the last decade, lion science and lion conservation planning has taken an enormous leap. To its credit, the conservation-minded side of the hunting-based organizations have participated in, funded and arguably driven most of the advances.

It is the hunting community that has largely funded the approximately one-half million dollars in regional action planning for lion. The same community has largely funded the approximately one-million dollars in national action plans across Africa, stepping down the regional planning. An endangered listing does not provide benefits for foreign species that are listed like it does for our own animals. It would disrupt and obstruct more than help. A listing would threaten the “strongholds.” Thanks, but no thanks.

robert hartland
robert hartland

Yes ,poaching is a problem,paying hunters and ecotourists go a log way to providing local monetary support.Corruption bleeds how much of that income?

alamar ttuim
alamar ttuim

Last time I tuned into the National Geographic channel, all I saw was "entertainment"  clips of killing, and no educational documentaries.  I'm sorry to say, but its decision to post this article from someone who belongs to SCI is just another confirmation that I'm slowly withdrawing my support for NG.  

Dominique Simon
Dominique Simon

Trophy hunting is killing magnificent animals for no other purpose than to pump up some so-called hunter’s pathetic ego. I don't buy anything from this article as it is written by non- other than the leader in propaganda and deflection when it comes to protecting wildlife. It is all about money, power, and ego.   Disgusting!

Kevin Poynter
Kevin Poynter

I am proud and surprised that Nat Geo published this article. It's well balanced and factual and the people here that are upset are simply devoid of the hard facts and reality of hunting and the reality on the ground in Africa. 

We are all born with two eyes but most people on this post only see with their left. Facts are facts and the fact is that without sustained sport hunting the lion has no value to the local people and thus no future. 

I understand the sentiment and the paradox in many people's minds (or hearts) that don't understand. I understand the emotional connection with what is one of the most majestic animals on Earth. 

Hunters are the foremost conservationists in the world. In the U.S. and in Africa.  Period. It started with a man called Theodore Roosevelt. Perhaps we all may remember him from history books and from a thing called Mount Rushmore in the Southwest corner of SD? He's the guy who established the thing we call National Parks that set precedent for the entire world including the Masai Mara mentioned earlier by an ill informed individual... He saved the Bison? Ring a bell? 

He actually set the world's fascination with the Dark Continent with his famous 1909 safari to East Africa and wrote his famous book called "African Game Trails". 

Now, I will disclose the fact that I have loved wildlife my entire life and that I have myself hunted Lion (and many other animals). Perhaps i watched too much Wild Kingdom as a child. I have also been on the ground in Africa many times in numerous countries and have personally spent literally 10's of thousands of dollars on anti-poaching, local communities, game scouts etc. I've also provided probably 25,000+ pounds of meat to local villagers devoid of protein and have personally delivered numerous GPS units to help track Rhino poachers to help protect them. 

What have any of you that oppose this ever done? Take a picture? Oh, by the way, I've probably got 10,000+ pictures too.... 

Eco tourism is a JOKE as a protection mechanism. You want proof? look at Kenya and the completely off base comments by people about that and the Masai Mara. Kenya outlawed sport hunting in 1977 and the wildlife has been absolutely decimated by poaching ever since. The Masai have destroyed innumerable lion because of conflict with livestock and rituals. Kenya's wildlife populations have plummeted by some 90% since that ill fated decision. Meanwhile, wildlife is approaching all time highs in places like South Africa and Namibia specifically due to the value of hunting. Conservationists and Hunters single handedly saved the Rhino in South Africa and other areas now to see that progress hurt by illegal poaching.  


The fact is  that if the lion does not have specific economic value (and no posing for a picture does not constitute serious value) then they will be forever in conflict with the local people. If you've read past Nat Geo you will also see the population in Africa is literally exploding relative to most of the world. That will continue to bring the lion into conflict with humans. 

Also, the statements about sport hunters shooting pride males and the dominant males are absolutely ludicrous and baseless. Professional Hunters and clients specifically target 6+ year old males specifically without any females and most importantly cubs. This has ZERO impact on the overall number of lions and protects the integrity of pride groups from some of these same males that would otherwise compete for dominance and kill the young. We specifically do everything possible to ensure we do not kill pride males so that another male does not move in and harm the young lions when they take over. Anyone who says differently is flat wrong. This is basic apex predator behavior similar with bears (i.e polar bears) 

I guarantee you that i not only probably CARE more about the lion than most or all the people that don't believe in the hunting but I also guarantee you that I have personally done more and spent more for conservation of the Lion and other African wild game than any two non hunters on this forum. 

Hunters (certainly the great majority) have a DEEP love, admiration, and compassion for wildlife. 

I personally recommend to all of my non hunting friends that we should all see Africa and the beauty of the flora and fauna and if you don't want to hunt take a camera, but GO.... But don't pretend that bunny hugging "eco tourism" is the answer. 



Sue Dickinson
Sue Dickinson

I'm so disappointed that National Geographic has published this story, written by an employee of SCI.

I live in South Africa and, for many years I have tried, unsuccessfully, to find any evidence of SCI's involvement with South African conservation or social upliftment at any level. SCI spends FAR more Dollars lobbying in Washington, for their "right to hunt".

Lions need protection from many threats, and one of those threats is trophy hunters!

Eco-tourism is a much more sustainable and profitable industry. As one of the posts says "It is the gift that keeps on giving".

Cory Gordon
Cory Gordon

I'm not buying that lion hunting is a force of conservation — not until someone adduces definitive findings from published, peer-reviewed studies. Until then, I assume that those hunters with the funds to support conservation would likely also be the ones who cull the healthiest most dominant males. Let's accept for a moment the claim that the future of sustainable lion populations depends on the proceeds from hunting, is there enough reliable data to conclude that such dependent populations would be as healthy as smaller populations that exist without the benefit of hunting proceeds? If the answer is an apodictic 'yes,' I would ask the following: Is there enough information to conclude that other funding sources (e.g., non-injurious safaris) would not, or could not — in the long-run — sustain or even increase healthy lion populations without the need for hunting proceeds? If the answer is an apodictic 'yes,' then I would consider trusting those who kill for joy of it.

Sadie Cardenas
Sadie Cardenas

I read down through many of the comments here.  I will only say that all animal conservation is dependent on one MAIN thing.  Everyone is going to say habitat right....well, yes, that is needed, and the better it is the easier conservation would be.  The MAIN ingredient of conservation though is the dollar sign. Yep, money.  Without it, all is lost. 

The economic value of each species to it's surrounding area is what keeps it either on the veldt, or in someones cook pot.  If killing a lion can feed your family and/or protect your cattle/goats (which are your families livelihood) then they will disappear from the earth. 

Bring in a hunter, that wants to take the older male lion and is willing to pay $30,000-$80,000 to do it and this makes that lion a very valuable asset to have in the neighborhood.  A lot of the money from these hunts does go to the local people and that is how poaching is stopped.  This is simple to comprehend when you live among the beasts.  Not so easy when you live in the city and have grown up with Disney on your tube.

Daniel Dobson
Daniel Dobson

Thank you for this valuable information.  It is always helpful when an article like this includes, as this one does, links to information confirming the claims made in the article. 

It is sad to read the negative replies here.  Not because people have different views, but because they are so steadfast in their closed-mindedness and ignorance.  They refuse to read the scientific data because it would force them to admit they are wrong.  So sad so many are so limited in intelligence.

Conservation hunting and game management have saved so many species from extinction.  As many have correctly written, hunters are the people on the ground making sure the species are protected.  Hunters are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to real conservation as opposed to armchair conservation and movie making.  If the animals are gone, you can't hunt them.

Ken J.
Ken J.

This is just like the Polar Bear issue, come up where the polar bear live and ask those people if there are any more or less polar bears than there were 10 or 20 years ago.  The polar bear population is stronger that ever but reports from people who don't even live or have not even been here screwing up the facts just like many of you making comments here your "citiots" (city-idiots).

Why doesn't the US keep their nose out of everyone else's business and worry about their own problems?  Don't they have enough of their own?  Most of the polar bear population of the entire world lives in Canada and no one knows them better than Canadians and yet the US is trying to push CITIES into changing the listing on them and Canada is saying NO?  Why do they think they know better?

Lawful managed hunting is a huge benefit to all animal populations.  Look at Texas and South Africa, both places have HUGE amount of hunting done and both places have massive wildlife populations...why?  Because they are managed properly through conservation including hunting and the value people put on those wildlife populations because of the economic benefit brought in is incredible.  Not just to the hunting outfitters, but the local farmer who produces the food, the local grocery store, the local hotels, the air lines and on and on...its a massive booming industry around the world and I myself would not have travelled to nearly as many countries as I have if I weren't legally going their to hunt. I know leaving half of the clothing I took with me on many of those trips is being put to very good use by many of those local people who could barely afford any clothing.  I know the thousands upon thousands of dollars we have given in tips to the local people have helped keep families fed for months on end. 

Many of the mature males of any species are often older and not very fertile and by removing that mature male through hunting, often leads to population booms in the species as the younger and more fertile males mate with the group until a new "alpha male" takes over.  Do you think its the fastest and strongest and smartest of the population that get killed, very rarely so the population that are left breed and strengthen the breed.

Lions are no different, if those countries ask for help then offer them true facts and leave them alone to make the decisions for themselves on  how to manage their natural resources quit pushing your ideas and ideals on everyone else as what works in the US doesn't work everywhere...and whose to say what you think and do in the US really is working.  If the US was perfect, then hey by all means....but I don't know of any country that is. 

Dennie Mann
Dennie Mann

In recent years, the recognition of wildlife conservation in the U.S. and Canada as distinct from other forms worldwide has led to the adoption of the term “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.”  The Public Trust Doctrine, derived from the 1842 U.S. Supreme Court case Martin v. Waddell, is considered the keystone of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. It represents the common law foundation for trust status of wildlife resources in the United States.  This is the reason that we have huntable wildlife populations in North America.  Here are the seven catagories in the North American Model!

  • Wildlife as Public Trust Resources
  • Elimination of Markets for Game
  • Allocation of Wildlife by Law
  • Wildlife Should Only be Killed for a Legitimate Purpose
  • Wildlife Are Considered an International Resource
  • Science is the Proper Tool for Discharge of Wildlife Policy
  • Democracy of Hunting
  • Hunting is an important tool in wildlife management in Africa as it is in North America!  Hunting is Conservation and Hunters Pay for Conservation across the Globe.

    Phil Robertson
    Phil Robertson

    At one time in my life, I was a genuine anti-hunter.  I hated all that had to do with hunting, including family members and acquaintances who participated.  I studied the anti-hunting slants like there was no tomorrow, while my mental capacity for truth was emotionally bound.  There was no way this man could ever see hunting as good, when it seemed so evil.

    Time and maturity are the great equalizers, however.  I could never get past the fact that no one loved wildlife and cared more for their well being than the majority of hunters.  I just simply couldn't argue the amount of money that hunters were willing to generate, as well as the time they were willing to invest, to support conservation and wildlife.  

    It was also painfully obvious that hunters were the ones who were actually in the field, while people like me were forming opinions based on magazine  and newspaper articles.  Non of my anti-hunting peers spent any time in Africa or the Arctic to see things firsthand with open eyes.  Hunters on the other hand, were there.  They saw things that 99% of the population only dreams about. 

    My raw emotion couldn't see reality.  

    Hunters pay taxes and fees that anti-hunters don't even know exist.  Hunters cheerfully donate hundreds of millions of dollars for conservation efforts that aren't even met with pennies by the anti's.  Look at the USFWS marketing study on wildlife related outdoor activities and you'll see the millions upon millions hunters generate for conservation and local communities.  Anti's contributions are mere cents on the dollar.

    I challenge you anti's to go to Africa yourself and see it with your own eyes.  I'm telling you, 99% of the people who actually live with the lions welcome hunters and the revenue and conservation they bring.  The whole ecosystem is improved through managed lion hunting.  I challenge you to go to the Arctic and look at the Polar Bears personally.  Study their real habits and habitat.  You'll find that most of what you've been taught about them is simply not truth.  Stop forming opinions based on what people tell you.....more than likely, they've never been there either!  I have been there and it's nothing like you've been told, but I guess it's easier to criticize than be a truth seeker.   

    I am proud that I decided to be a man and look for truth myself instead of relying on others to tell me their version of it.  I'm proud that I make my living in wildlife management and get to see things the vast majority of the population don't.  But most importantly, I'm proud to be a hunter and will never be ashamed of that honor.  


    Mark Young
    Mark Young

    For all of you that posted negative comments about the article you simply have no idea what you are talking about. Have any of you been on the ground in Africa even for a very short time? I have. I've been on the ground in 8 different sub sahara countries multiple times and seen first hand the positive direct impact that trophy hunting has on the enviroment and the indigenous people.

    When you ask the people living in rural Africa how they feel about safari hunting they are emphatically in favor of it. Safari hunting creates employment where there simply are no other jobs, it provides cash to the villages that goes for schools and clincs plus the meat from the animals provides food for the village and is a disincentive to poaching.

    The safari operator protects the enviroment and only removes a sustainable off take of animals each season so the resource can replenish itself each season.

    The locals have a symbiotic relationship with the safari operators creating win win situation for all involved.

    The above is fact witnessed by myself while I was spending my money on conservation in Africa through hunting. Perhaps rather than just chanting the mantra "hunting is bad, hunintg is bad" you guys could take a breath and let the real facts sink in.

    John Dooher
    John Dooher

    @Sue DickinsonTwo days ago I sent the photographer a question regarding the authenticity of the picture but he has yet to reply. I also note that the pro-trophy hunting folks who came here full of bluster have not returned to defend the many points against their dubious positions.

    Richard Horgan
    Richard Horgan

    @John Jackson III you'll never get this but your cited studies and another study that Melissa simpson cites are pretty much the opposite of what you're saying. you probably assume no one will read these studies, have you? I love how you pick out certain aspects of these studies and leave most of what the studies come up with. Did you read the duke study, nothing in there saying it's a good idea to continue these game hunting conservation efforts.you're just using big words and smart sounding sentences to continue to mis-lead the rest of the dumbshits out there who also spend no time researching or reading the studies.yes, there are strong-holds that contain approximately 24,000 lions. of these strongholds, many of them don't currently meet the criteria and may never meet the criteria. many are small, poorly ran and encourage in-breeding. there is a large number of lions 10,000-13,000 outside of protected areas,some in areas where humans can't help them. reseach shows the the reduction of lions in these strongholds, which is happening, effects the more wild population. populations in most areas of Africa,(west,east,south) are declining. it would take too long to explain the connection between Melissa simpson, safari club international, gun advocates, studies that SCI got involved in and didn't turn out very good for them, the non-profit status of SCI and where all that dough goes to, around 1% goes to grants,conservation,programs. I guess you thought no one would take the time to read up on these things, you're right no one will, but you know you're picking out bits and pieces of info that as a whole doesn't look good for you ol'game hunters promoting that 'this is good for the lions thing'.    

    Ivan Shelley
    Ivan Shelley

    @John Jackson III You sir represent the typical arrogance of a hunter by switching facts so as to suit your very outdated way of thought. Lets look ,if we may, at what the "hunter" did to the Almighty Elephant before it became illegal to hunt them. Was it not the Big Game Hunter, with his oversized rifle that caused a shortage of such a beautiful animal? Let us cast our minds even further back, once again if it suits the Almighty Hunter and look at other species decimated by the Oh So Great Conservationist, The Hunter really is.

    They are: Bubal Hartebeest- decimated 1923.  Cape Warthog- 1900. Cape Lion - !860. Atlas Bear - 1870. Red Gazelle - 1894. Quagga -1883. Western Black Rhinoceros -1996. Cape Serval, ,Aurochs and the Blue Buck were also decimated in early 1800's

    So mister Big Time Hunter tell us OH GREAT ONE what have you  and your kind achieved. Please tell because the most recent fact's show that through hunting all the above became extinct due to hunting. By the way, this is only in Africa NOT THE WORLD.

    Bye Bye Number III think it I time for bed, cot is waiting for you. 

    John Dooher
    John Dooher

    @John Jackson III"... They most certainly are stakeholders who have the very most to lose with the demise of the African lion."

    No one has more to lose than the folks who hunt and kill the Lion.

    You actually wrote that with a straight face?

    Let's forget what the Lion's demise would mean to an entire eco-system and the peoples of Africa... that is surely less of a loss than the trophy hunters would suffer.

    Can you show the readers here a comprehensive breakdown on how trophy license money is spent with respect to Lion hunting?

    Why can't you Trophy hunters take your concerns for conservation and, instead of killing an endangered species, spend that same money in direct efforts that don't include killing things?

    How about a ten year moratorium on killing Lions during which you folks try everything to help the Lions BESIDES killing them?

    You cannot and you will not because like the other apologists here your first and foremost concern is with killing Lions.


    Cheers,

    Ivan Shelley
    Ivan Shelley

    @Kevin Poynter I would like to know ,from you, did you personally go to each individual involved with a hunt and paid that person? Did you personally pay the government department at the time of your hunt? Did you pay the tour guide. the driver, the warden, the receptionist, the waiter, the scullery maid, the chefs .I think you get the picture

    What you in fact did was pay 1 or 2 people and after they paid what was due as in salaries, bribes,  licences and their own pocket

    You dear sir is why a typical Non Hunter has such contempt for a Hunter such as yourself, who by saying that they pay so much to hunt that they are so convinced that they are actually doing so.

    If that was the case I would like your comments on why the following have become extinct please if as you say that the Great Hunter is a conservationist .

    You sir represent the typical arrogance of a hunter by switching facts so as to suit your very outdated way of thought. Lets look ,if we may, at what the "hunter" did to the Almighty Elephant before it became illegal to hunt them. Was it not the Big Game Hunter, with his oversized rifle that caused a shortage of such a beautiful animal? Let us cast our minds even further back, once again if it suits the Almighty Hunter and look at other species decimated by the Oh So Great Conservationist, The Hunter really is.

    They are: Bubal Hartebeest- decimated 1923.  Cape Warthog- 1900. Cape Lion - !860. Atlas Bear - 1870. Red Gazelle - 1894. Quagga -1883. Western Black Rhinoceros -1996. Cape Serval, ,Aurochs and the Blue Buck were also decimated in early 1800's

    So mister Big Time Hunter tell us OH GREAT ONE what have you  and your kind achieved. Please tell because the most recent fact's show that through hunting all the above became extinct due to hunting. By the way, this is only in Africa NOT THE WORLD.

    Bye Bye

    Yvonne Love
    Yvonne Love

    @Kevin Poynter         

    Hello Kevin,  I have read through all of the comments on this article and appreciate you sharing your perspective and experiences. While I am not a hunter, I recognize and appreciate the work and money hunters put toward conservation. I am a law student and am currently working on a substantial paper concerning hunting endangered or critically endangered animals in Africa to conserve them. Rhinos are the main focus, although I will also be discussing the effect of hunting to conserve or conversely banning hunting to conserve other exotic animals (like lions). They will also feature in discussions of the demand for exotic animals and poaching.  

    Since you are an experienced hunter that has been to Africa on multiple occasions, I was wondering if you could recommend any resources on hunting in Africa and more narrowly hunting for conservation.  Any assistance you can provide is greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Kevin Poynter

    Perhaps you need to look at the facts? Both Botswana and Zambia have recently banned the hunting of lions. Based on the past 20 years, the financial rewards filtering down to the communities and conservation, has significantly beaten that from hunting operators. That is the reason why hunting concessions are not being renewed, but instead offered to outfits that can use the land on a sustainable basis. The Zambians also banned the hunting of lions due to a trickle of the trophy fee actually filtering down to the community.

    On my side, I am involved in two private photographic safari camps in the Kruger private reserves. All our guests pay R100 per person per stay. About two years ago a hunter arrived in the reserve to hunt a male lion. Of course the powers that be decide the lion to be hunted is one of two dominant males that rule the pride we most often watch and photograph with guests. Despite our best efforts at explaining that this lion was in fact still in his prime and dominant (and not old and scraggly SCI) they proceeded to hunt him. The big tough hunter was so pathetically useless that all he did was wound the lion, and he went into hiding. Of course they had to follow, and in the ensuing mess, the lions brother came to investigate and was also killed. No doubt from some very jittery and pathetic hunters. Post two dominant male lions being killed, the hunters, I am led to believe, actually said that they killed both lions with one bullet! Thank goodness that their is now a moratorium on the hunting of lions in that reserve.

    My point is this though - I am led to believe that the fee for that lion was R250, 000. In one year, our two camps contribute significantly more than that per year in conservation and gate fees.  Assuming that dominant male lions "rule" for approx2-3 years and our guests could have watched and photographed those lions, our camps would actually have contributed 2-3 times more towards the reserve. And we are just two photographic camps, there are other commercial camps as well contributing towards the "bunny-hugging" eco-tourism model.

    The other ramifications were that the pride, without the protection of their pride males, fell into disarray. They split up, cubs were killed. Sightings were sporadic and their numbers dropped. It is only in the past year that two new males have taken over, that the pride is growing strong ago.

    So like Derek & Beverly Joubert (Nat Geo filmakers) point out - for every 1 dominant male lion hunted, about 14 lions will die as a result. I saw this with my own eyes. 

    And lets not kid ourselves, no big tough hunter is coming to Africa to hunt a scraggly old male lion past his prime. No, they want the big boy, which inevitably is a current dominant male lion. Just the other day, a dominant male was hunted in a neighbouring private reserve. You see because the rangers at the photographic safari camps are out there every single day they get to know the lions intimately. The hunters then blow in and big mistakes as regards the fact they are hunting "an old lion". Come on now - they want the best looking lion to hunt. I also imagine that it would not be that difficult to hunt a lion that has grown up in a photographic safari environment. They become very habituated to the presence of vehicles and to a certain extent humans.

    I believe that lions are very different - not only are they the pinnacle of the food chain, their social dynamics also play a huge role in the negative effects of them being hunted. 

    Hunters kill about 25% of wild lions killed each year, and while human conflict, habitat loss and the lion bone trade play a part as well, banning the hunting of lions, will instantly help save the wild lion from becoming endangered. Captive bred lions do not count - they will never be released into the wild. The other factors are significantly more difficult to get on top of.

    So if hunters really cared about the future of wild lions, they would stop hunting them.

    Some food for thought here:

    http://blog.africageographic.com/africa-geographic-blog/news/evidence-against-trophy-hunting-mounts/

    http://www.ecolarge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Ecolarge-2013-200m-question-FINAL-lowres.pdf

    Big Game Hunting in Africa is commercially useless – IUCN (“The environment is increasingly seen as a global good which cannot be used exclusively for individual interests or those of a minority.”)

    http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/big-game-hunting#cr

    http://blog.africageographic.com/africa-geographic-blog/news/botswana-kills-trophy-hunting-ian-michler-reflects/

    http://blog.africageographic.com/africa-geographic-blog/hunting/zambia-hunting-ban-update/

    Ivan Shelley
    Ivan Shelley

    @Sadie Cardenas I agree with most of what you say SADIE, but  for1 item, and I quote "A lot of the money from these hunts does go to the local people and that is how poaching is stopped" This is Africa we are talking about and as such most if not all the money goes into some government officials pocket .Why do you think there is so much poverty going on?

    Sam Ogechi
    Sam Ogechi

    @Sadie Cardenas Hi there Sadie. I have read your comments here along with those of others of your persuasion with great interest... but also with great sadness. You see Sadie, I grew up in the plains of the Savannah amongst the magnificent beasts that are the topic of discussion today.

    Sadie, it's very clear to us locals that a living lion is way worth more than a dead lion. No one pays thousands of dollars to get in a plane to fly thousands of miles to a strange land to see a dead lion! They come to see the living ones, regardless of whether they are an "older male lion" or a young cute cub; they just need to be alive. And when these folks come, they stay in hotels and buy things and generally keep the economy moving. They then go back home with beautiful pictures of lions (living ones) and sweet memories that they never forget. Those folks in turn encourage their friends and loved ones to visit too, and the cycle continues... but only if the lion stays alive.

    A living lion is gift that keeps giving. A dead lion is... dead.

    One dead lion may be worth a one time $ 80, 000 of which about eighty percent? ninety percent? will end up in the hunt organizer's pocket and the rest in the hands of a corrupt government official. That money never makes it to the people. Forget about it.

    The money that comes from the folks that shoot with cameras is way worth more than the money that comes from the guys with the rifles... probably by a factor of millions.

    There are those times that we will clash with that rare lion that will come for our livestock. But these incidents are few and far between and the culprit is usually and old lion that can't hunt the agile deer or the robust wild buffalo anymore. Or sometimes an errant pride of lions which is also usually rare. But we still still understand the value of these beasts. 

    Regardless of what the lion hunters will have you believe, the lion is making his last stand in the plains of Africa... please don't shoot him!

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Daniel Dobson 

    Again - we are talking about the Trophy Hunting of Lions here. Not general hunting. In my opinion there is a vast difference.

    Ivan Shelley
    Ivan Shelley

    @Ken J. I only like your 1 comment and that is that the US stay out of other peoples business.

    Then we get on to the matter of your using the word "citiots"(city idiots). Can I ask you how you know that the people in this forum are "citiots" ?do you happenstance know each persons whereabouts, take me for example do you know what I do, where I stay etc ? If not what gives YOU the right to make such a comment ? do you not know that there are many people who are actively involved in the bush as wardens or those actively do go into the bush and do vet work on game farms or anti poaching detail, or to collect data an the different species?   

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Ken J. 

    Lions are very different. Hence Botswana and Zambia banning the hunting of them.

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Phil Robertson 

    This is about the hunting of LIONS. Dominant male lions. There is a vast difference between the hunting of game that is endangered and game that is not endangered.

    Its not about emotion, its about fact, and the fact is that the trophy hunting of lions is fuelling their demise.

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Mark Young 

    There is a big difference between the hunting of dominant male lions and plains game.

    I live in Africa, and have seen first hand the devastating effect on a pride of the hunting of the dominant male lion. 

    And lets face it, trophy hunters do not want to hunt a lioness.

    Kevin Poynter
    Kevin Poynter

    @Brett Thomson @Kevin Poynter 

    Brett, you make some very valid points. There also certainly needs to be a well managed balance and photo tourism is a wonderful and welcomed activity that everyone should hope to enjoy someday. The clear disconnect from what myself and several others here have made is this...

    You keep making the incorrect and opposite assertion by continuing to use the term "Dominant Male". If that we're true, part of your point would be valid. There is a HUGE difference between a "Mature Male" and a "Dominant Male", which keeps with your incorrect assertion that hunters target Pride Males, which by definition are the dominant males. This is patently false. I'm not saying it doesn't happen at all as this is not a perfect world. I CAN say that not a single reputable Professional Hunter in Africa today would.  I hope the story you mention above is not true. If it is, it's indeed a bad example of what we are talking about. The story sounds a bit fishy to make a rhetorical point and using inflammatory terms like pathetic hunter does not sound like a person truly on the ground with experience. 

    What you state about hunting pride males is strictly against hunting ethics and it today's Africa a Professional Hunter would be risking their license and entire business with such behavior. If you are informed as you assert then you must be aware of the studies and DNA testing discussed in the article? As others have specifically noted there are specific rules in the main Countries where WILD lion hunting is conducted (Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe). 

    Tanzania, as example, issues some 250 permits per year, but only 50 or so Lions are actually taken under the strict rules and ethics by the Professional Hunters and their clients. (my numbers may not be exact here, but they are directionally correct)

    You are correct in what the effects would be IF hunters targeted pride males and the basis of your argument would have validity. The problem is you are absolutey incorrect and absolutely wrong in your facts. You can't possibly have real knowledge of Lion hunting or you would know this to be true. Any further statements by you that this is true of LEGITIMATE lion hunting is patently false and misinformation. (aka BS) 

    As you noted, Zambia closed this year, but not for the reasons you assert (it was internal governmental corruption... What? Corruption in an African Government? Shocking !) and will likely re-open next year because they took immediate corrective action, but probably not for the Big Cats as you know.  If they do not, however, it will be a huge financial hit to the operators who are, in fact, the ones who pay ALL the lease fees for the GMU Wildlife areas. Those fees are directly dependent and related to their ability to sell the limited quota for Lion. I hunted my own lion in Zambia in the Luangwa Valley. The locals, were very, very happy people to have me there. 

    The communal areas of Botswana are also crying foul because of the direct negative impact by closing hunting. In Botswana, as you know, the issue if far more "Elephant Centric" as Botswana is FAR over the land's carrying capacity for elephant and are seeing massive habitat destruction and a direct threat to their biodiversity and habitat (But Elephants are a subject for another day and another article)

    No one needs ANY further proof than Kenya... It's like saying "Scoreboard" for a boastful child. Kenya's closure of sport hunting in 1977 has had a massive and direct negative impact to the wildlife and has seen 90% devastation of the wildlife. The "photo opps" there are of course 90% diminished to right?

    Kevin Poynter
    Kevin Poynter

    @Sue Dickinson @Kevin Poynter 

    Sue, fair question. When I say 10's of thousands, I'm specifically referring to just the portion of the total cost that have been directly allocated as portions of my total safari costs to anti-poaching and local areas and wages directly to indigenous people. I (and most hunters) also take bags of extra items such as clothing, soccer balls, candy etc for the children. The total spend I've made, you could add a zero to that number, but I'm not talking about the total spend. Just the pro-rata portion. The wages, as one would expect, are comparatively very low so a little can go a long way in Africa and is very appreciated by the locals. Last year alone just my "tips" to the local staff that worked with me was over $5,000 US. That's a LOT of money to local people that will buy a LOT of cornmeal, etc (the normal local staple item). Compare that to Brett's own number below of R100 (that's Rand/ZAR for those not familiar)  At todays currency rate that's about $9.65 per day (that's right, less than $10 US)

    I've seen the money I've spent go directly towards the lease payments of the large protected wildlife areas (Millions of acres tantamount to our U.S. largest National Parks) and seen it translate directly to the wages of many dozens of game scouts who patrol and remove hundreds and thousand of wire snares that kill indiscriminately and devastate wildlife. To anyone who has not personally witnessed this devastation, it's hard to describe and can never be truly understood or appreciated. 

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Sam Ogechi @Sadie Cardenas 

    Well said Sam. And the hunters never come for the "old" lion - they always come and hunt the big dominant male lions. Don't be fooled. And the devastation that happens to a pride post their pride male being hunted is terrible to see.

    PS: reports have shown that monetary benefits from hunting filtering down to the communities is far less than from monetary benefits from photographic safari lodges that are intricately linked to the communities.

    Just ask Botswana.

    Daniel Dobson
    Daniel Dobson

    Your "fact" is unsupported and contrary to any and all verifiable evidence. It is, therefore, not a fact but merely an uninformed opinion.

    Phil Robertson
    Phil Robertson

    @Brett Thomson @Mark Young 

    You are correct Brett about what happens to a pride when a dominant male is taken out of the pride.  I have always been against, and will always be against, lion hunting that takes pride males as well as fenced lion hunting (that's not hunting at all).  

    Today, however, things have changed.  SCI and The Dallas Safari Club have been VERY instrumental in the changing of many of the laws for lion hunting outside RSA.  A male must now be over 6 years of age in order to be legal, and I know of no legal safari operators that allow the shooting of pride males (there may be some unethical ones that still do, but not the good ones....which is the majority).  That's why baiting is used so often.  It attracts the males that are without a pride....either young ones that are not legal, or the older males that have already been kicked out of a pride and are incapable of sustaining themselves.  Older, single male lions just simply don't live long and the legal taking of them is actually good for the ecosystem.

    Ibrahim Arslan
    Ibrahim Arslan

    @Kevin Poynter.

    You guys are pathetic. Hunting and killing innocent lions for your own entertainment. How low can a human being be? I seriously despite every living human being that thinks that it is good to hunt down a lion.

    Why do you think their numbers have dropped from 400.000 to 20.000 in 50 years?

    Do you think killing lions with weapons is something to be proud of? Something "manly". Well if you think so then you should consider killing yourself...


    @Brett Thomson

    Nice said...

    Gillian Gordon
    Gillian Gordon

    @Kevin Poynter 

    Where on earth do you get any of your stats from? I am from South Africa, and your story reads like a fiction, no better yet a horror story.

    Ivan Shelley
    Ivan Shelley

    @Brett Thomson @Daniel Dobson Mark it is no use arguing with a hunter my friend, they have it in their narrow minded brain that because they come to South Africa and hunt they know all about the country and as such , they have spent millions saving the world one Continent at a time

    Phil Robertson
    Phil Robertson

    @Brett Thomson @Phil Robertson @Mark Young

    Did you even read my entire reply?  

    Since it's obvious you didn't, I'll state it again.....SCI and DSC are AGAINST the killing of pride males.  The only males they are interested in taking are legal males that are not attached to any pride.  These are males that are almost always on their own and have been kicked out of their former pride.  They are terrible hunters on their own because of their size and weight, and are almost always injured because of the constant fighting that lions just normally do.  They are expendable because they serve really no purpose in the ecosystem, and they die horrific, slow deaths from disease and starvation.

    The legal hunting of those particular males serves an ecosystem and an economical purpose.  I'm all ears on how you're going to fund the management of them without the hunters dollars.

    On another note, your knowledge of lions seems to be rather slighted.  The vast majority of wild male lions, even if not hunted, rarely live longer than 10 years.  They have been known to live up to 14 years in the wild, but that is extremely rare.  The only way a male could still be dominant from 10-12 years of age would be if there are no other middle-aged or prime males in the area.  That's not reality.

    Brett Thomson
    Brett Thomson

    @Phil Robertson @Brett Thomson @Mark Young 

    Male lions can be dominant up until 10-12 years of age.

    Here is a thought - to protect wild lions, why not keep them alive instead of killing them? Their numbers have after all decreased significantly over the past 20 years.

    Share

    Feed the World

    • How to Feed Our Growing Planet

      How to Feed Our Growing Planet

      National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series.

    See blogs, stories, photos, and news »

    Latest Photo Galleries

    See more photos »

    Shop Our Space Collection

    • Be the First to Own <i>Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey</i>

      Be the First to Own Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

      The updated companion book to Carl Sagan's Cosmos, featuring a new forward by Neil deGrasse Tyson is now available. Proceeds support our mission programs, which protect species, habitats, and cultures.

    Shop Now »