Today I spoke with Craig Packer, who many would regard as the world’s expert on lions. What a fascinating day…
After driving for 5 hours, the last hour in the dark (never a good prospect in Africa) I’m not quite feeling up for a full-on blog post so I’ll present his thoughts briefly. I may expand on them in a later post
1) South Africa is unusual – sound land ownership rules mean that the “it pays it stays” model that I discussed yesterday works here and generally works well.
2) In other parts of Africa the model doesn’t work at all well, largely because of the rules and governance of land ownership. However, the model has been a mainstay on conservation across Africa for 50 years.
3) Lions in West Africa are in very serious trouble, in East Africa things are not looking so good but in southern Africa the situation is far more rosy. In other words, “Africa” is not a uniform place and there are local differences in practice and in the status of lions
4) Trophy hunting for lion can and does work in some places – the money does fund conservation…
5)…but it doesn’t work that way in many other places where the money from hunting amounts to “cents on the dollar” of what is needed
6) Ecotourism and photo-tourism also work in some places but not others, but again amounts to just cents on the dollar
7) Hunting is far larger than just lions and if lion hunting were banned then other trophy species would still be available and desirable for hunters.
8) Fences protect wildlife from humans and humans from wildlife – Packer thinks fences are one key to lion conservation
9) The other key is money – and lots of it. $50K to kill Cecil is far too low – make it “a million a lion”
In summary, trophy hunting is not the major problem facing lions and neither is it the major solution when taken across the whole of Africa. The hunters’ argument, that they fund conservation, does hold some water in some places, but it falls a long way short overall.
If we value African wildlife internationally, perhaps we should fund it internationally?
I also asked him about “canned hunting” and I’ll post his thoughts tomorrow.