Africa has some of the planet’s most beautiful and endangered species, such as rhinos, elephants, leopards and lions. However, over the decades, poaching has severely impacted on these speciesseeing many of their numbers plummet to an all-time low. Despite conservation efforts and nature tourism, it is shocking to learn some African countries still allow ‘sport hunting’. This week, Zambia finally officially banned the hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats such as leopards.
It is surprising it has taken Zambia this long. After all, safari nirvana Kenya banned it years ago. It is only recently that Botswana also did the same, now with Zambia following suit. What is shocking though is that it appears that the decision is more financially motivated than conservational.
Speaking to Reuters, Zambia’s tourism minister Sylvia Masebo said the country saw “more value in game viewing tourism than blood sport.” Masebo added that the lion and leopard populations were too low to have a sustainable hunting industry, thus the estimated $3 million that Zambia earns from safari hunting wasn’t financially viable to merit the continued depletion of Zambia’s wildlife.
“Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry,” Masebo said. “Why should we lose our animals for $3 million a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher.”
Zambia is estimated to have a lion population of around 4,500, while the entire continent is home to around 20,000 to 30,000. However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, these numbers are dropping due to poaching, conflicts with livestock farmers and loss of prey and habitat.
Lions and leopards are the feline pair of the so-called “Big 5” group of dangerous African animals coveted by some trophy hunters. The others are elephant, rhino and Cape buffalo.
+ Reuters/Scientific America
Via BBC News
Images: Derek Keats and Yagan Kiely