Friday, January 11, 2013
Zambia bans lion, trophy hunting
Zambia has banned the hunting of lions and other endangered big cats as more money can be made from tourism than hunting. Zambia's minister for tourism Sylvia Masebo told Reuters that the estimated £1.8 million that the country had earned annually from allowing its wildlife to be hunted did not merit the continued destruction of its wild animals, with big cat numbers decreasing too quickly. "Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry," said Masebo. "Why should we lose our animals for $3 million (£1.8 million) a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher." Zambia's lion population is thought to be no more than 4,500. A recent study indicated that there are fewer than 35,000 free-ranging lions left in Africa, with the western population of 500 at severe risk. The loss of the big cat's natural habitats and hunting grounds, along with conflicts with livestock farmers, have resulted in lion populations plummeting by two thirds in fifty years. Zambia's ban echoes that of neighbouring Botswana, which has banned all sport hunting from 2014 following concern over the growing value of illegal wildlife trade. A WWF report published in December estimated that the trade of wildlife goods was worth £12 billion a year, with eastern medicine markets fuelling interest in rhino horns and ivory. In November 2012, the South African army was sent to the country's borders with Swaziland and Mozambique to prevent rhinoceros poachers from moving between the countries. If the numbers of big cats allowed, and profits incurred by big game hunting outweighed any possible tourism revenue, one has to wonder if the Zambian ban would ever have come to pass, since Masebo told AFP: "We do not have enough cats for hunting purposes, especially if we have to save our national resources."