Around the world people are shocked by the fact that in this day and age many places in Africa still allow lions to be shot, legally, for fun, as a sport. We want to give you the facts.
About 60 years ago there were in the region of 450,000 lions across Africa. Today we estimate that there are between 20,000 and 30,000.
Panthera the New York based big cat NGO confirms that lion numbers are down by 40% in twenty years. In West Africa it emerged that there were only four areas in which they existed at all, and only one area in which there were more than 50 lions.
If we project these numbers we are losing lions at a rate of 5 a day! Now is the time to stop killing lions. If we don’t we will lose these iconic animals soon.
Lion Killing Facts:
Habitat loss is one of the strongest factors affecting lion populations and w e are focusing on this through numerous existing projects as well as future plans. Great Plains Conservation, and others believe that securing corridors and making them work is as important a conservation strategy as any. This site however deals with how lions are killed and what can be done about it immediately.
There are three major causes of lion killings:
There are in the region of 660 lions killed, quite legally, each year as hunting trophies. As a result these trophies have CITES permits, and that allows the export and importation of skins and bones to most countries. Most of the hunted lions are males. This is done as a sport, as recreational hunting. Packer et al. 2009 showed how areas allowing hunting lions and leopards in Tanzania had the steepest decline in the numbers.
There are two major styles of this blood sport.
Shooting in the wild, on safari. That happens legally and sanctioned by governments in the following countries:
- Zambia (No age restriction, Male only)
- Zimbabwe (No set hunting season, no age restriction. Male only)
- Mozambique (6 year minimum age in Niassa only)
- Tanzania (6 yr age limit. trophies from six year old lions are accepted with rewards, those from 4 and 5 year old lions are accepted with penalties and those from lions of <4 years old are rejected and attract deterrent penalties)
- South Africa (allows hunting of males and females)
- Namibia (allows hunting of both males and females. It requires that lions hunted have a skull measurement (length plus breadth) of at least 52 cm, though that restriction is unlikely to prevent the harvesting of young mature male lions in their reproductive prime under the 6-year threshold
- Benin (No age restriction, males only)
- Cameroon (No age restriction, male only, cannot be shot from a vehicle)
- Central African republic (No age restriction, male only, cannot be shot from a vehicle)
- Burkina Faso (No age restriction, male only)
- Additional info: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0073808
CITES issues permits for lions to be hunted and exported as do each host country. The issuing of permits for many countries is based on demand and the reported utilization of the previous years give by the country itself. There are no official external reviews required.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates that trophy-hunting tourists legally kill some 600 lions each year, that agrees with out figures. Jane Smart, the global director of IUCN's Biodiversity Conservation Group, said in an interview with the Washington Post that the 600 figure is several years old and the actual number is probably higher than that. It is likely around 660. This is the legal number.
The growing use of dogs to hunt leopards in Zimbabwe, and declining leopard harvests in Zambia and Zimbabwe (Purchase & Mateke 2008; Balme 2009; Packer et al. 2009; Balme et al. 2010) have also raised concerns about leopard management and trophy hunting. (Purchase, G., and C. Mateke. 2008. The state of knowledge regarding leopard (Panthera pardus) in three range states (Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) in the context of improving management of trophy hunting. Report. CAMPFIRE Association of Zimbabwe, Harare.; Balme, G. A. 2009. The conservation biology of a nominally protected leopard population. Ph.D. thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, South Africa; Packer, C., et al. 2009. Sport hunting, predator control and conservation of large carnivores. Public Library of Science ONE 4 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0005941.; Balme, G. A., L. T. B. Hunter, P. Goodman, H. Ferguson, J. Craigie, and R. Slotow. 2010. An adaptive management approach to trophy hunting of leopards Panthera pardus: a case study from KwaZuluNatal, South Africa. Pages 341–352 In press in D. W. Macdonald and A. J. Loveridge, editors. Biology and conservation of wild felids. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.)
High lion harvest around Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park has had measureable effects on the population inside the Park (Loveridge et al. 2007, 2009). Experience shows that many lions are injured by hunters and left to die, and not registered as being killed. Additionally we know that killing one lion can lead to the deaths of numerous others – either by the takeover of a pride by new males or the killing of a female who has cubs. (When males lions are shot, their coalition partner (male) is left weaker and unable to defend a territory in many cases and it killed by marauding males, who then kill all the prides cubs. The estimated tally of dead lions as a result of each hunting license is between 15 and 30.)
Trophy hunters mostly want to kill male lions. Of the 20-30,000 lions left, it is considered that 15% of them may be adult males. That is less than 5,000 adult male lions at best, and most likely only 3,500 male lions and we are allowing the shooting of these lions at a rate of about 600 a year. This could imply a 20% off take a year and no population can sustain that (even if these were the only lions being taken off each year, excluding poaching, trade, habitat loss.)
Safari Club International has over 50 000 members. Dallas Safari Club a similar number. As 64% of those dead lion trophies go into the USA each year, the demand for trophies by these members will naturally outweigh the entire lion population.
- A male lion hunt sells from $25,000
- Some hunters want to kill lionesses, and they sell for $9,000
- A rare white lion bred solely for the purpose of being killed sells for $30,000.
Many lions are bred like this in South Africa as “canned lions’ for the purpose of being shot by trophy hunters. These animals are often hand raised and in small enclosures. They may only have been released into a larger area days prior to the hunt.
If you want to add your voice to stopping Canned Lion hunting there are many ways to do that.
- Petition Government
- Petition SA Tourism
- Petition PHASA
- Follow the story of Blood Lions, a film and campaign against Canned Lion Hunting.
- The ethics of hunting of big cats is often called into question. The killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe is just one case. He was baited out of the park at night, blinded by lights and killed on land that was not allowed to have a lion permit, and the hunters lied about the incident and attempted to destroy the research tracking collar. Zimbabwe supposedly does not allow lion hunting after sunset.
- According to our sources, Cecil was one of about 24 lions like this that were recently baited and shot unethically in Zimbabwe.
If hunting stopped a significant number of lions would be saved.
If you want to get involved there are many ways to do this.
- Petition IUCN
- Petition CITES
- Send a quick note to your local representatives and ask them to support Senator Avella and take action in YOUR state! Look up your state senators and representatives here: https://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup
- Follow us on Stop Hunting Lions for updated information. You decide if you think it is okay to hunt lions or not. We will give you the science and information.
Retaliation killing refers to livestock hunting usually when cattle or goats have been attacked by lions and the villagers go out in search of retribution by killing lions. Tanzanian districts with the highest number of lion attacks on humans have the lowest abundance of natural prey (Packer et al. 2005b), and villages with the most lion attacks on humans have lower richness of prey species than neighbouring villages without attacks (Kushnir et al. 2010). That means that lions are more likely to attack people when their natural prey ahs been depleted — as you may expect.
There is also the traditional element as displayed by the Maasai people where young warriors are sent out to kill lions and stop them from killing livestock, which are precious to the Maasai. Because of efforts like those by The Big Life Foundation in Kenya, the elders have announced that they are adopting a non kill policy. Warriors are now pitting their strength and wits against each other in the Maasai Olympics. If you want to support the Maasai Olympics contact us via the Great Plains Foundation.
Additionally a predator compensation scheme compensates for livestock that has been killed by lions – but only if the herders have put in place measures to protect them, making people ultimately responsible. If you want to help fund predator compensation, it will go directly through to the effort in the field, contact us at the Great Plains Foundation.
If the Maasai can stop hunting, so should we
Where pastoralists want to plant crops and deploy slash and burn farming tactics to clear forests and habitat that big cats use. When they do that lions have to retreat to natural habitat, but there is also some actual lion killing, as well as massive bushmeat collection from snare laying, and that prey loss makes the land untenable for lions to live in.
The National Geographic Big Cats Initiative funds a number of projects in West Africa (and all over Africa) to combat this kind of killing. If you wish to support Big Cats Initiative and any of its over 70 projects, contact us at the Great Plains Foundation and we will see that it goes to projects that are Non hunting friendly.
We are looking into solutions for each via our various affiliations. At the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative we have funded over 75 projects in over 24 countries as a ‘seed funding’ conservation solution. Dereck and Beverly Joubert founded the initiative primarily to look at immediate solutions and interventions and find conservation efforts that could produce results now.
This site is designed to give information to you all about what can be done, and the present status on a regular basis.
The first is that we have to stop the hunting of lions./ While we work on the illegal killing of lions, the first natural step is to stop the legal killing.
What is to be done? Take action!
The following actions can be supported:
Write to your representatives and inform them of this legal petition and solicit their support. Start social media posts in support of this petition and the banning of hunting of lions, and importation of their body parts to your country. Find out all about the proposed listing of the lion as an endangered species here: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/pdf/African-Lion_FAQs_10-27-14.pdf Sign the Avaaz petition to list lions as endangered and stop the trophies going back to the USA.
Write to your representatives and inform them of this legal petition and solicit their support.
Start social media posts in support of this petition and the banning of hunting of lions, and importation of their body parts to your country.
Find out all about the proposed listing of the lion as an endangered species here: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/pdf/African-Lion_FAQs_10-27-14.pdf
Sign the Avaaz petition to list lions as endangered and stop the trophies going back to the USAPetition the South African Government to stop Canned hunting and the IUCN to stop the trade in lion bones through the Blood Lions site. http://www.bloodlions.org/get-involved/
The following countries have banned the importation of lions’ body parts:
- Australia was the first country to ban import or export of lion trophies.
The following governments are in support of banning lion hunting:
- Kenya (banned all hunting in 1977)
- Botswana (banned all hunting in 2014)
Zambia just opened up hunting again in 2015 after a year long ban, and stated that big cats were now recovering and could be hunted. Zimbabwe reopened hunting after a one-week ban following the death of Cecil.
The following airlines have announced that they will no longer carry or freight certain dead animals:
- British Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Brussels Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
ACTION: Chose the airline you fly on by what it believes in.
South African Airways did announce that they would not transport dead animals but hunting lobby groups and the government petitioned them and they backed down.
ACTION: Ship with companies that share your ethical values.
- Great Plains Conservation
Check these US-based safari professionals who are against lion hunting, breeding for canned lion hunting and lion walking/petting: http://www.safariprofessionals.org
When planning a safari, ask you agent or operator what their policy is on lion hunting before booking. Get it in writing. Ask the agent and operator what their policy is on serving wildlife meat. In many cases lions are threatened because prey numbers are down as a result of poaching. Some lodges buy wild meat as well, or even go out and kill wildlife for the pot.
ACTION: Travel with companies that are responsible and share your ethical values when it comes to hunting.
- Great Plains Foundation
- Born Free Foundation
- Lion Guardians
- National Geographic Big Cats Initiative (BCI supports the following big cat projects)
- Zambian Carnivore Program (ZCP)
- Anne K. Taylor Fund (AKTF)
- Project Snow Leopard
- Ruaha Carnivore Project
- Ewaso Lions
- Snow Leopard Conservancy
- N/a’an ku sê Foundation
- African People and Wildlife Fund
- Cheetah Conservation Botswana
- The Endangered Wildlife Trust
- Niassa Carnivore Project
ACTION: Support and donate to Organisations that share your values on hunting. Make sure your dollars go to organisations that do not condone or encourage hunting IF this is not what you believe in. Find out who stands for what.
- Donate to this site and we will be able to do advanced advocacy to Stop Hunting Lions.
- We will fund protected land for lions.
- We will help fund lion conservation projects to people and organizations that are strictly vetted as non-hunting.
- Donate only to NGO’s that state that they are not affiliated or in support of killing lions.
Do we really have to hunt lions? Is it ethical? In the face of extinctions is it morally okay to be killing these animals for our own selfish pursuit of fun, or sport? We don’t think so. Please help us solve this very solvable problem.
Stop Hunting Lions as a campaign has one ambition: to be redundant as soon as possible, when the hunting of lions has stopped.
Purchase, G., and C. Mateke. 2008. The state of knowledge regarding leopard (Panthera pardus) in three range states (Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) in the context of improving management of trophy hunting. Report. CAMPFIRE Association of Zimbabwe, Harare.;
Balme, G. A. 2009. The conservation biology of a nominally protected leopard population. Ph.D. thesis. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville, South Africa; Packer, C., et al. 2009. Sport hunting, predator control and conservation of large carnivores. Public Library of Science ONE 4 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0005941.;
Balme, G. A., L. T. B. Hunter, P. Goodman, H. Ferguson, J. Craigie, and R. Slotow. 2010. An adaptive management approach to trophy hunting of leopards Panthera pardus: a case study from KwaZuluNatal, South Africa. Pages 341–352 In press in D. W. Macdonald and A. J. Loveridge, editors. Biology and conservation of wild felids. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom
Lindsey PA, Balme GA, Funston P, Henschel P, Hunter L, Madzikanda H, et al. (2013) The Trophy Hunting of African Lions: Scale, Current Management Practices and Factors Undermining Sustainability. PLoS ONE 8(9): e73808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073808
Campbell R., (2013) The $200 million Question. How much does trophy hunting reallycontribute to African communities.
Palazy. L., Bonenfant. C., Gaillard. J., Courchamp. F. (2012) Cat Dilemma: Too Protected To Escape Trophy Hunting.
Loveridge, A. J., A. W. Searle, F. Murindagomo, and D. W. Macdonald. 2007. The impact of sport-hunting on the population dynamics of an African lion population in a protected area. Biological Conservation 134:548–558
Packer, C., D. Ikanda, B. Kissui, and H. Kushnir. 2005b. Ecology: lion attacks on humans in Tanzania. Nature 436:927–928.;
Kushnir, H., H. Leitner, D. Ikanda, and C. Packer. 2010. Human and ecological risk factors for unprovoked lion attacks on humans in southeastern Tanzania. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 15