A recent study indicates that long-term management for trophy hunting of lions can actually help to sustain the species.
Trophy hunting, that controversial and dangerous phrase, is a good thing. That is, if you care about sustainable wildlife populations and the perpetuation of the species.
Yes, trophy hunting, of lions in particular, can be the very thing that makes sure that lions continue to stalk the African plains for a very long time. That is the conclusion of a recent study undertaken by researchers from the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE).
Dr. Henry Brink and Dr. Bob Smith from DICE, and Professor Nigel Leader-Williams from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography, studied lion population trends in the Selous Game Reserve of Tanzania. And what their research concluded is of special interest to conservationists.
First, it must be noted that the protected wildlife area in Selous is divvied up into large blocks or expansive parcels, which are then allocated to various companies that oversee or manage them for various periods of time.
The researchers found that those companies that had long-term leases on blocks of land—10 or more years—managed them with long-term sustainability and wildlife growth in mind. They took good care of the animals—the lions—and their habitat much better than did those companies with shorter leases.
This is, according to Dr. Brink, an important finding, as the length of time a company is responsible for the land indicates whether or not they will manage it sustainably. Short-term leases equate to a desire for short-term profits, and the resources of that land will not be managed with the view of long-term growth in mind.
Dr. Smith added that most lion conservationists believe that trophy hunting plays a key role in ensuring effective long-term management of the resource. Lions require large blocks of land in order to thrive, but managing large land areas is expensive. Trophy hunting, and the money it brings in, can make the land financially viable, while at the same time helping ensure that lion populations remain sustainable and growing.
However, presently in Tanzania, the government sells hunting blocks relatively cheaply while setting high quotas and high fees for each lion killed. This encourages those who purchase short-term leases to make a quick dollar by shooting more lions at the expense of long-term sustainability.
Leader-Williams says that the findings of the research should rather compel Tanzania to alter its hunting fee system with long-term management and species sustainability in mind. The government could increase block fees, reducing trophy fees and lion quotas. They’d bring in the same amount of money, but would benefit from better and longer-term management that would in turn benefit the lion population.
This would help ensure long-term sustainable income as well as create a more stable population of lions in the country, and trophy hunting would be at its foundation.
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