Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Reports of threats to cull lions in Zimbabwe

24 February 2016

Categories: Homepage News, Big Cats Campaign News

©AJ Loveridge

Born Free is investigating recent reports suggesting that the future of as many as 200 lions in the Bubye Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe could be in jeopardy.

According to some reports conservancy managers have indicated that 200 lions may have to be removed because of overpopulation. There are suggestions that this situation has arisen because of a lack of trophy hunters visiting the park following the international outcry in response to the killing of Cecil by an American trophy hunter in July 2015.

However, these claims don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Lion populations across Africa have suffered precipitous declines in recent decades, falling from around 450,000 in the middle of the last century, to perhaps less than 20,000 today. Over the past two decades numbers across the continent are thought to have reduced by 43%.

Zimbabwe is one of four countries in southern Africa that have bucked the trend and seen modest increases in lion numbers. 

Some smaller fenced reserves manage lions to prevent overpopulation and inbreeding, and their contribution to lion conservation is highly questionable. However, the Bubye Conservancy convers a large area in which lion populations should self-regulate depending on prey availability.

In addition to ethical concerns, trophy hunting is not an effective way of regulating lion numbers, and the population in Bubye will not have reached unmanageable proportions in a few short months because of any reduction in trophy hunting resulting from the outcry following the killing of Cecil.

Adam Roberts, CEO of the Born Free Foundation and Born free USA, said: “Zimbabwe has healthy populations of lions across some of its parks and conservancies, in stark contrast to much of the rest of Africa where lions are fast disappearing. If these media reports are true, we urge the authorities in Bubye to desist from issuing threats about the future of these animals in the hope of attracting a few fee-paying hunters, and instead to work with the international conservation community to find ways to protect all of their valuable wildlife.”

Born Free Foundation
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