Hunting Lions for Fun

In the wake of Cecil the lion’s killing in Zimbabwe we are seeing real conversations about hunting: its viability and its ethics.

It has opened some tough discussions, like if we should all boycott Zimbabwe, or whether lion hunting is in any shape or form a viable conservation tool.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to boycott Zimbabwe. Thousands of local Zimbabweans live off photographic tourism and a range of other jobs that are not involved in hunting. Many of these people have chosen non-hunting industries because they already don’t like the business or ethics of hunting.

Just today I was filming some lions hunting zebras and I reflected on the difference between a hunting lion and a man hunting a lion. Both are undeniably violent acts. But one is necessary, the other is not. One is for food, the other is not. One involves no great celebration of death, one ends in high fives and alcohol celebrations and often some blooding rituals.

In essence, a lion hunt may be vicious, but it is not cruel. The activity of Dr. Palmer’s (the hunter who paid for and killed this famous lion)  is one of malicious intent and cruelty and there are almost no examples of that in nature.

Beverly and I started the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative specifically because of incidents exactly like this shooting by Dr. Palmer, which is not unique. (His excuse is incredibly weak, that he didn’t know he was on land where it is illegal to hunt and that also did not know that he was shooting a collared research lion baited out of the park!) Hunters come to at least seven countries in Africa to shoot over 500 lions a year. Eighty percent of those lopped-off heads and skins go back to the United States.

If we stopped killing for fun, we could stop the slide in the lion populations: Dereck JoubertTweet this

This is going on while we have seen 95 percent declines in lion populations over the past 60 years and continue to lose 5 lions a day. Loss of habitat is partly responsible, conflict with livestock and poaching also play a role — but so does hunting. If we stopped killing for fun, we could stop the slide in the lion populations.

Canned Lion Hunting

This desire to kill has fuelled an entire industry called “Canned Lion Hunting,” where lions are bred in cages and released for hunters to kill. For what? What is it that drives some of us to want to slaughter an animal that we have come to understand, from 32 years working with lions, are mostly passive and wanting to go about their business.

Hunting is Largely About Ego

Every time I have tested the desire to hunt and kill a lion with hunters I get a range of answers, from that it is for conservation, to it being about saving villagers from a marauding lion, to that it is cropping out the old, sick and surplus. (Mostly I just get death threats.) But in reality, it seems, it is all about showing off.

Hanging a head in the boardroom or the slaughterhouse-style trophy room, with its staring eyes and fangs at the ready, sends a signal to the impressionable visitor about the “brave” hunter. If it was all about the wonderful outdoors there are thousands of outlets for the sportsman that don’t end in the blood and lolling tongue of a dead lion.

It Is not Brave to Shoot a Lion

I state this again: It is not brave to shoot a lion. Wrestling a lion to death with your bare hands might be brave. But safely at the long end of a telescopic sight and a high-powered rifle, or even with a state-of-the-art compound bow and arrow, it isn’t brave. It’s target practice. Shooting elephants is even easier, a little like shooting at a barn door.

Arnold-Twitter-Cecil-the-LionArnold Schwarzenegger said it well recently [on Twitter, image alongside]: Bravery is joining the military, not killing big cats.

[Join Schwarzenegger’s support of big cats by donating $5 and uploading a photo of yourself giving a virtual high five to any social media platform, with the hashtag #5forBigCats. Learn more.]

They fact that Palmer had to drag a bait to get Cecil the lion out of a park, and out of protection, and that he shot him with an arrow and then later a bullet, is not only testament to poor ethics, but also to the damaging impact already created in designated hunting areas where lions are so depleted that they have to bait ‘Cecils’ from conservation areas.

The science is clear: Lions decline in number where they are hunted. The fact that anyone still debates this is astounding, but at least 55,000 members of a group called Safari Club International do. They feel that shooting lions protects them, despite study after study over decades that prove the contrary.

We worked in an area once that saw every single male lion killed by hunters. The male cubs that were left behind grew up, started mating with their sisters, and mothers, until these young males were also shot.

Soon we saw deformities developing and the collapse of the entire population.

No National Wealth in Hunting

There is no doubt in my mind that the hunting of lions is morally bankrupt. But let’s look at the economics.

Botswana stopped lion hunting over 10 years ago, and all hunting in 2014. The lion population is at least stable now.

One former hunting area called the Selinda Reserve was converted to only photographic tourism. The increase in wildlife has been spectacular; the increase in revenue to government and its people is something like 1,300 percent. Employed people have the benefit of real skills transfer and training. The old hunting companies hired minimally; now instead of 10 or 12 jobs in these areas there are 180 people employed full time just in this one reserve.

Hunting in the countries that still allow it contributes less than 0.27% to the national GDP. In Botswana ecotourism is the largest employer in the northern districts and hires 40 percent of the working population.

One Hunting License May Kill 23 Lions

Every time one hunting license is issued, a male lion is shot. However, males often work and live in groups of two like Cecil and his partner male. They need these partnerships to defend their territories and the females in the prides. When one is killed, the remaining male is left vulnerable to attack, and is most often ousted by marauding males.

Males coming in to a pride have one desire, to start their own families, not to raise the ousted male’s cubs. So they immediately kill all the cubs in the pride. On average a pride may have between 10 and 20 cubs (if the average pride is 8 females.) One license kills one male and his partner, as well as about 20 cubs, and often a mother who wants to defend her cubs. Total tally for one license: 23 lions! This is what we can expect for Cecil’s pride, a group of six females.

Hunting ‘Problem Lions’, a Myth

Hunters will say, ‘what about safari hunting of cattle raiders?’ This is totally impractical. Firstly, a safari is booked months if not years out. A cattle post, if raided by lions, is something that needs to be reacted to the next day. I have no idea how anyone could sell a safari for the first week in August 2016 and know that they could be called in to help solve a cattle-raiding problem during that week. These problem animal hunts are bogus and another falsehood set up by a corrupt industry.

Secondly, most livestock raiders are females (often old) or young nomadic males. Neither of those two demographics is a hunting trophy! Hunters want the largest and best male lions with large manes. It’s a trophy after all! Besides that, if a 13-year-old Kenyan boy can come up with the ideal anti-lion device for cattle at night (random flashing solar-powered LED lights) then we surely don’t need guns to solve this issue.

Hunting ‘Old Cast Out Males’, Another Myth

Another myth is that hunters only shoot old males past their prime that have been cast out from the pride. In 30 years studying lions, I have only come across 3 such males. All of them were so old and tired that you could have swatted them with a baseball bat.  But more important is that when males are finally thrown out, they almost always lose their manes from stress, so as to not be carrying around a healthy mane that will attract aggressive attention from the resident males.

Some hunters of lions don’t bother too much about lion mane-deficiencies, of course. There are a few establishments in the U.S. that will provide trophies with hair extensions for undersized manes so that when displayed your lion will evoke gushing admiration rather than embarrassing “shames” as your friends look at a not quite fully grown male cub with its natural Mohican styled mane.

Only 3,000 Cecils Left in the Wild

If one unpacks the statistics, shocking figures emerge. We may have between 20,000-30,000 lions left in the world. Of those, there may be as few as 3,000 males like Cecil left.

People do not change under threat of retaliation or fines. They change by peer pressure. The stuffed toys and protests outside of the hapless dentist’s office are sending a signal that enough is enough. A petition is circulating, calling on the U.S. government to list lions as an Endangered Species and giving them full protection. Only one group is opposing this, the hunting fraternity.

I hope that Cecil the lion has died for at least some cause: to rally everyone to get this important legislation passed and to stop the killing of lions for fun.

Beverly and Dereck Joubert. Copyright Wildlife Films.
Beverly and Dereck Joubert. Copyright Wildlife Films.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from Botswana who have been Explorers-in-Residence for over four years. Their mission is the conservation and understanding of the large predators and key African wildlife species that determine the course of all conservation in Africa.

They have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 25 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films, 10 books, six scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. This body of work has resulted in five Emmys, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and the recent induction into the American Academy of Achievement.

Beverly Joubert also is an acclaimed photographer, and many of her photographs have appeared in National Geographic magazine. Filmmaking for them has always been a way to bring the message of conservation to audiences. Their recent expansion into conservation tourism via their new company, Great Plains, is a venture into community/conservation partnerships in Africa, and Great Plains has received awards for responsible tourism in London and South Africa.

Dereck and Beverly established the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic as an emergency action fund to drive the world’s attention to big cats and to develop real solutions to stop the decline that has seen lion numbers drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in 50 years.

Share your support of big cats by donating $5 and uploading a photo of yourself giving a virtual high five to any social media platform, with the hashtag #5forBigCats. Learn more.


    August 20, 8:29 am

    To see what CANNED LION hunting is all about.

  2. BRIAN
    August 20, 8:26 am

    GOOGLE BOB VITRO LION HUNT to see what CANNED lion killing for fun is all about.
    These killers have turned the public against all ethical hunters.
    We will have them to thank when all hunting is banned.
    As with Palmer

  3. alexandra robertson
    United Kingdom
    August 17, 2015, 10:43 am

    Thank- you for your enlightening information on the aspects of Hunting and biological make-up of Lions as I found the data very educational and inspiring. In the case Of Cecil I agree with your comments 100% as Palmer in my personal opinion was a psychopathic coward who had the intentions of killing a lion that day no matter what it took to fulfil his sadistic barbaric thirst. Unfortunately Palmer picked the wrong lion to hunt and kill to hang on his wall as a ‘trophy’ It was not only the baiting of Cecil who was wearing a collar that had been removed but to shoot such an magnificent majestic Beat with a crossbow and then leave Cecil to suffer in agony for forty hours is barbaric and cruel is beyond words and humane compassion. Cecil has now become a martyr for and the world has been awoken to the cruelty and the barbaric ritual of ‘trophy’ hunting and canned hunting. As compassionate human beings the world population has now stated enough is enough and Cecil was only the tip of the iceberg as the world now realises if we continue murdering our wild life to the point of extinction – the only place we will be able to see these animals will be in a Zoo or a Safari Park. We need to inflict upon these rich psychopathic cowards who are murdering the wild life is that their barbaric game will not be tolerated any longer and if caught they should be given life imprisonment – life for a life – and in some instances the suffering they inflicted upon the animal the same treatment should be inflicted upon them – but this would be considered inhumane. Airlines and the shipping overseas should be all sanctioned and the endorsement of carrying ‘trophies’ should come into immediate effect. As the Law of Karma states Palmer who murdered Cecil will suffer the consequences of his own actions and I personally do not feel sorry for him one iota. The killing of Cecil although it has been a tragic event has not been in vain as Cecil has now became the campaign mascot to banned all trophy and canned hunting, Hopefully it will not be only Palmer that is brought to justice but all trophy and canned hunters will be named and shamed and be given the justice they deserve whether be a prison sentence or lost of employment or been ostracised by society. With all the capital these trophy hunters have would it not be logical for them to make an donation to animal conservation or would this be too moral or humane for them to participate in such a cause.

  4. Alana Balogh
    August 7, 2015, 10:47 am

    Thank you for all of your excellent clarification.
    Your comment below says it all.
    ‘Just today I was filming some lions hunting zebras and I
    reflected on the difference between a hunting lion and a
    man hunting a lion. Both are undeniably violent acts.
    But one is necessary, the other is not. One is for food,
    the other is not.’

    These ‘hunters’ fit the text book definition of psychopath, which is considered a mental illness. (See below.)
    There are many more of them who intend to meet for their annual convention to brag and congratulate each other for what they think they are getting away with, and to make plans for more of the same. (See details below) This MUST be stopped!…/what-is-psychopath-0

    The PCL describes psychopaths as being callous and showing a lack of empathy, traits which the PPI describes as “coldheartedness.” The criteria for dissocial personality disorder include a “callous unconcern for the feelings of others.” There are now several lines of evidence that point to the biological grounding for the uncaring nature of the psychopath. For us, caring is a largely emotion-driven enterprise. The brains of psycopaths have been found to have weak connections among the components of the brain’s emotional systems. These disconnects are responsible for the psychopath’s inability to feel emotions deeply. Psychopaths are also not good at detecting fear in the faces of other people (Blair et al., 2004). The emotion of disgust also plays an important role on our ethical sense. We find certain types of unethical actions disgusting, and this work to keep us from engaging in them and makes us express disapproval of them. But psychopaths have extremely high thresholds for disgust, as measured by their reactions when shown disgusting photos of mutilated faces and when exposed to foul odors.

    Here’s where many of the trophy hunters meet.
    Will be interesting to see if this convention remains on schedule.
    Ultimate Hunters’ Market®Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada 2016 (February 3 – 6)

    Here’s a list of the hotels where the convention has reserved blocks of rooms for the hunters:
    Ultimate Hunters’ Market®Safari Club International – Las Vegas, Nevada 2016 (February 3 – 6)
    I imagine hosting these ‘hunters’ could hurt their business.

  5. Sharon van Wyk
    South Africa
    August 5, 2015, 11:34 am

    For Kate, whose comments appear at the top of this thread.

    Kate – the private game ranches you speak of are invariably small, around 1000-1200 hectares, and are fenced. The game they carry has been introduced and is, effectively, captive. The vast majority of these “farms” are spread across three provinces – Freestate, North West and Limpopo. There is little to no conservation, other than general land management practices, being conducted on these farms. In many cases the owners of these farms do not rely on them for income, as they have primary businesses elsewhere. Many of these farms were once used to raise cattle as well as the odd impala, which, during South Africa’s hunting season (winter months) were taken off for the pot. With the advent of canned hunting (and I would argue that any animal on a piece of fenced land less than 5000ha is effectively ‘canned’) many of these farmers turned to trophy hunting as a valuable additional source of revenue, and began to stock their land with more valuable game species (buffalo, nyala, etc). They bring in lion, rhino and elephant where there is demand for it, buying these animals at game auctions across the country, or, in the case of lions, directly from predator breeding farms where they have been hand-reared deliberately for the bullet.
    This is a precis of the information I have spent a number of years gathering as a conservation writer and journalist. I can therefore state categorically that the land you assume is “protected” is anything but. Private game reserves, such as the Timbavati and Sabi Sands game reserves in South Africa’s lowveld region, are a different kettle of fish entirely. Both are conglomerations of private land under direct conservation management for the benefit of eco or photographic tourism. Some hunting is still allowed in the Timbavati, with supposedly a proportion of the funds raised being ploughed back into the management of the reserve. However, there is mounting pressure from international tourists to cease hunting activities on the reserve as it is extremely difficult for viable photographic destinations to thrive alongside sport hunting, due to the fact that animals become skittish and difficult to view when hunting is taking place. In addition, tourists who have paid big bucks to come to a luxury safari lodge and view the Big Five in their natural habitat do not want to support destinations where the same Big Five may be shot by the Walter Palmers of the world.
    Summing up, then, Kate: your comment is redundant. As redundant as sport/trophy hunting is fast becoming. It is a vestige of Africa’s colonialisation by Europe, an elitist, white pursuit which smacks of greed and arrogance. It has little to offer in tangible benefits to either conservation or communities. As Dereck so rightly points out, a tiny fragment of hunting revenue trickles down to impoverished communities.

    The above link takes you to Economists At Large’s ground-breaking research into the hunting industry. I would urge you to read it in the hope that it will dispel any myths left.

  6. Gareth van Rooyen (@garethbarryvan)
    August 5, 2015, 10:22 am

    Hi Derek, Beverly,

    I have worked as a photographic guide, as a ranger and I am a nature lover. I am not a hunter and I don’t condone killing ANY living thing for fun. I recognize that this is a very complex problem that needs a sustainable solution. My question is, where will the money come from to conserve the land that is currently used for trophy hunting if it gets banned tomorrow?

    “A minimum of 1,394,000 km2 is used for trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa, which exceeds the area encompassed by national parks” – This is an excerpt taken from a very thorough study which I urge everyone to read. Refer to the link at the end of this commentary.

    Secondly, endangered animals such as Sable antelope are being bred by game ranchers for the sole purpose of trophy hunting. The best specimens are sort after as the biggest trophies are what hunters are after. A Sable bull was recently sold for R12.2 million for breeding purposes. Surely this type of game ranching is strengthening the gene pool, particularly for those endangered animals. If hunting is banned tomorrow who will spend the time, care, money and energy to breed endangered (and non-endangered) animals? Hunting seems to be the only industry putting real monetary value on animals, and it is sustainable.

    I have racked my brain for potential solutions and have thus far only managed to come up with some airy ideas, but, it’s a start, and maybe we need to be thinking far outside of the box.

    Perhaps companies making money off our natural parks should form brand partnerships with conserved areas, they can use these pristine areas as advertising billboards (online of course – on platforms such as Google Earth and Maps and on any lodges websites that are found within the reserves) just like they do with sports stadiums. Canon Masai Mara? Nikon Chobe? National Geographic Selous? I bet they would get lots of exposure and they could use it as a tax break. Those millions on marketing could be used for a better cause.

    Perhaps wildlife photographers should buy licences to shoot animals? After all, models and actors get paid for shoots. Who’s negotiating on the animals behalf? The more rare the animal, the more expensive the licence. Hunters pay for licences, why not photographers?

    This is just to get the conversation going. What we need are real, sustainable solutions. Hunting seems to be the only one right now.

    Please follow this link and read this study:

    You guys are doing a great job! Keep it up!



  7. Paul Tully
    August 5, 2015, 9:00 am

    Thank you Dereck & Beverly (sorry but you come as a pair)

    One of the best articles I’ve personally read, full of fact, experience, figures, eye witness accounts, knowledge and most of all what hunters lack.. ethics and morals.

    Photographic/Eco tourism is still in its infancy and what we’re seeing is the hunting lobby viciously deny and restrain against the what is a positive and progressive opportunity… to actually protect wildlife with this form of responsible tourism.

    As we see only today, Edna Molewa appearing as though she believes just that which hunters will have you believe. How will we ever win, when such government officials are so keenly biased in support of hunting.

    Thanks again.

  8. Pieter Odendaal
    Pretoria, South Africa
    August 5, 2015, 8:41 am

    Dear Kate

    It is a fallacy to consider game ranches as protection areas for lions (or most other game). Game ranches / game farms are fenced-off, prohibiting the free migration of animals, killing and trapping many animals, they are more often than not made up by many smaller fenced-off internal camps that further limits movement and destroy vegetation via large fire breaks etc. They are also breeding grounds for inbreeding, gene pool manipulation and deterioration of pure genes. Game farmers are in it for business, not conservation – do not be fooled. What we need is real habitat protection and restoration to form connecting open systems.

    Best of luck with your Big Cat initiatives Dereck – keep up the good work!

  9. Sharon
    Cape Town
    August 4, 2015, 3:06 am

    55 000 against the rest of the world… let’s hope Cecil’s death can increase the gap…

  10. olatotse sarefo ola
    BEETSHA, GUDIGWA. Botswana
    August 3, 2015, 1:45 pm

    Olatotse and Modumo Who are professional guides would like to know who is to be blamed for Cecil,s killing, is it the Government, company owner, professional hunter, or Mr Walter.

    This is why we Botswana Government barned hunting,better you stop hunting there or Cecil siblings will be also killed

    The Professional hunter,the Tracker, and mr Walter must account for the Lion killing.

  11. Nick
    August 3, 2015, 12:16 pm

    This was a great article balancing the push for this cause with scientific fact. Apart from my hope that all the news and focus on Cecil sheds light on and brings reform to the big game hunting industry, my wish would be that individuals (such as “T Martin”) would not use one issue to be a platform for pushing other agendas. Look at the issue for what it is and let’s get things done one at a time while leaving egos at the door.

  12. Kate
    South Africa
    August 3, 2015, 8:42 am

    In South Africa private Game Ranches have 3 times the area of National Parks. If the hunter goes they go. Then who will protect the animals on these ranches?

  13. Kate
    South Africa
    August 3, 2015, 8:40 am

    Coutesy of TIME (Helen Regan) Until 2000 Zimbabwe had a successful wildlife-management program, with many big-game animals flourishing. But by 2003, a staggering 80% of the animals that had lived on Zimbabwean safari camps (which employed firm quotas to regulate animal population sizes) had died. By 2007, there were only 14 private game farms in the country, compared with 620 prior to the land seizures of 2000, according to a National Geographic report. With the protection of private game reserves nearly nonexistent, once abundant wildlife began dying off, hunted by desperate farmers with no other options for sustenance.
    Despite the passing of harsher laws for poachers in 2011 illegal hunting in Zimbabwe is still big business. Poaching syndicates earn hundreds of thousands of dollars exporting ivory and animal skins. Many conservationists believe allowing the community to reap the benefits of wildlife management — by, ironically, running the sorts of safaris on which Palmer shot his lion — will help curb illegal poaching. But it is impossible to have that debate while the world brays for the ruin of a lone Minnesotan dentist, and fails to criticize a regime whose policies were responsible for the almost complete extinction of Zimbabwean wildlife in the first place.

  14. T. Martin
    August 3, 2015, 3:09 am

    Please watch this to understand why hunting of lions is so important

  15. T. Martin
    August 3, 2015, 3:06 am

    Yes it was sad that Cecil the lion was shot, I wonder if he knew that his name was Cecil, was he named at birth or only after he became this magnificent specimen of a lion. But lets look at the bigger picture here!!
    I have never once seen any news channel, posting on media or article written in any news paper or magazine about the plight of the African rainforests due to greedy European businessmen who are making a fortune from the hard and soft woods from Cameroon, Congo and the C.A.R. Thousands upon thousands of tons of wood from trees that are hundreds of years old is being removed and exported to the likes of France, the UK, Spain and yes you guessed it China. There is hardly a virgin piece of forest left in west Africa. Soon there will be no forest and a the Pygmy people will loose their entire lively hood because some fat Englishman or Frenchman, ( the very same people that are shouting their mouths off about a lion ) wants an African mahogany dining room table. Along with these evil loggers come the poachers that are shipped into the forest by the logging trucks. These poachers kill animals, duikers, monkeys, gorillas, Bongo, dwarf buffalo and elephant, that equate to over one million tons of meat per year being exported out of the forest.
    Nothing is being done to curb either the loggers or this massive bushmeat trade. And here the world is up in arms about one lion that had a name, Cecil.

  16. Kelly Schueman
    August 2, 2015, 9:44 pm

    South Africa’s canned lion hunts are horrific, and I can’t think of the country without those images entering my mind. My travel funds are limited, so I do look closely at a countries values when I choose a place to vacation. Kenya and Botswana are near the top, I would never consider South Africa. Zimbabwe is a wait and see place. We chose Costa Rica this year. They have banned hunting in that country. I want to support kind people, and wildlife.

  17. Peter Mc Hendry
    Southern Africa
    August 2, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Thanks Dereck and Beverly. With you expert knowledge I see the light in this. Thank you so much. The Myths are now clear. Lets save the species and get them to turn around and the numbers increasing. Thanks for all your input with Leopard, Lion and others. Wonderful stuff.

  18. William Morrison
    Gauteng, South Africa
    August 1, 2015, 2:49 pm

    Thank you for a well balanced article, written by people who know their subject. Hiding in the bush and shooting an unsuspecting animal with a high powered weapon is not brave. It is a sniper performing an assassination. Thank you for the work you and Bev are doing. Regards to Bev – Roodepoort Town School 1968.

  19. Jessica Singh
    South Africa
    August 1, 2015, 1:56 pm

    A well thought out, intelligent article that presents the facts and debunks the myths. Cheers to the Jouberts for their sterling work and their steadfast fight to raise awareness to the desperate plight of our African cats. From a fellow cat-obsessed (real) conservationist I salute you. The hunting fraternity’s feeble arguments and their pathetic attempts to justify their lust to kill our wildlife are becoming more apparent to the ever-awakening world, all thanks to social media platforms and the internet. It is only a matter of time now that the world’s public will rally together as one loud voice and together we will squash this despicable bloodthirsty industry under giant foot like the slimy cockroach it is.

  20. Mato Watakpe
    August 1, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Java Tiger, Hartebeest, River Dolphin, Pyrenees ibex, Taiwan Clouded Leopard, Japanese river otter, Eastern Cougar, Caspian Tiger, Arabian Ostrich, Texas Wolf, Bali Tiger, Mongolian mountain wolf, Southern Rocky Mountains wolf, Kenai peninsula Wolf, California Grizzly bear, Newfoundland wolf, Honshu Wolf, Hokkaido Wolf, Quagga , African Atlas Bear- all these are extinct. Man may follow.

  21. Adair
    south africa
    August 1, 2015, 10:24 am

    I am not a hunter,nor would I ever dream of killing an animal for pleasure,I do battle to get my head around the concept.Having said that,lions are not in danger of extinction because of hunters.Their dwindling numbers are mainly because of loss of habitat.In countries where hunting is banned(eg Kenya with their overall animal count down 80% since the ban in the 70’s)or governments that are ineffective and corrupteg Zimbabwe) there are few private game farms because without hunters they cannot fund themselves.The land that could be used for wild animals becomes farmland with the bush cleared.Any animal that ventures onto farmland is killed.Poaching by poor people is another major problem,so communities surrounding wild life areas need to benefit, either by employment or spinoffs from tourism of which hunting plays a big part.

  22. Steve Travis
    London, Cape Town, NYC
    August 1, 2015, 8:53 am

    Thank you for a most informative in depth piece surrounding the myths faced by the lion. The stark reality, which I am sure you and Beverly have witnessed over the years, is that the lion population has been decimated and it is now the time for change.
    Cecils death has brought the issues to the forefront, however, as sad as this single lions death is, it should not have been in vain. Our fight for trophy hunting to be banned, stopping the import of trophies, or even the transport of trophies internationally and having this written in law continues to be our motivator.
    #CecilsLaw would pay this lion the respect he deserves and his legacy shall be the lions that are saved following changes in the laws around the world.

    We have precedence in a few countries, where either trophy hunting has been banned, or the import of trophies is illegal. This is a good start, but the net needs to be widened.
    The mass population had a very swift education into the atrocities of canned / trophy hunting and I, for one, believe that the momentum of this one death could be the catalyst for change.
    Warm regards to you both
    Steve Travis
    Global President
    Protecting African Lions Foundation

  23. Rosie
    August 1, 2015, 5:47 am

    Well said Dereck, I hope you have sent this piece into CITES and all the other places that still spout their rubbish about hunting being a good thing !

  24. Riz Nordin
    Kuala Lumpur
    August 1, 2015, 1:37 am

    Thanks for enlightening and moving article.
    I am astounded that hunting animals for fun especially big cats are still being allowed to carry on legally. We have enough problems with poaching and habitat loss that cause population deine, and hunting for fun is definitely not necessary and is further compounding an already serious problem. And not to mention that the lion is a threatened species if not already endangered, why should we allow any to be hunted?
    The hunting club members are egoistical liars who wants to justify their sinful desires.
    For others not associated with such safari clubs, have we not learnt from the past that these fun hunting is wasteful and damaging that we should set up laws and stop these clubs from such activities.
    For example shooting migrating birds may not cause a problem in the location but the effects are felt elsewhere in the place the birds return to, their breeding grounds. The passenger pigeon became extinct in America solely because of their indiscriminate and aimless hunting aka shooting practice by humans. Please top the insanity. This the age that we reform and shift our ways of the past, and that the trophies to be hunted or gotten are that of successful conservation efforts for nature and wildlife and for working towards world peace.

  25. Allison Livengood
    WI, USA
    July 31, 2015, 7:32 pm

    I don’t get why people pay to hunt these animals. I don’t hunt anything but if I was going to hunt I wouldn’t want it to be set up and easy. Hunt for the animal if you are going to hunt.

  26. James Smith
    Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
    July 31, 2015, 5:02 pm

    Thanks for great article. I have been forwarding your posts on to all who will notice. My wife and I have followed your work since that day about 10 years ago when old Silver Eye killed 2 cubs about 10 feet from our vehicle at Duba Plains. Everyone sat with tears in their eyes and rapt attention that afternoon as you gave a presentation on what was happening to our lions. Thank you again.

  27. Mirela
    July 31, 2015, 3:42 pm

    The best analysis I’ve read about the case. Because it is logical and with facts. And demonstrates, even economically, that Big Game Hunt brings no use and there are no logical reasons to sustain it. Actually there cannot be other excuses. Not these days. I cannot believe how completely selfish and cruel trophy hunters are. They know all these – that there are only 3 000 Cecil’s and yet this does not stop them. They think it is their right. The only good thing in killing Cecil was the exposure this murder had due to his fame. Maybe it is not too late for the lions generally. Hope for a change: Trophy Hunting to be banner anywhere in the world.

  28. John Cox
    July 31, 2015, 2:24 pm

    All animals killed by citizens of first world countries are killed for fun. The fun of eating their flesh, or the fun of having a trophy, or the fun of sadism. We do not kill animals out of necessity for survival like our ancestors did. We are systematically killing things because we are selfish and ignorant. It is inexcusable.

  29. MaryAlice Pollard (@CornwallsVoice)
    Cornwall UK
    July 31, 2015, 1:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this article that covers every aspect of this subject from personal knowledge, experience and obviously written from the heart.

    For me it is not just about Cecil, or the hundreds of other lions that fall victim to this ‘industry’ but all animals that are targeted in the name of TROPHY KILLING !

    As a photographer, I get as much of a natural high from going out and hunting with my camera – getting that shot which is an eternal memory, leaving my subject to go on and live the lives they were intended !