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Scientist Who Studied Cecil the Lion Supports Trophy Hunting

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A scientist who studied Cecil the lion has come out in favor of trophy hunting as an effective way to help preserve African lions and their habitat.

The list of logical supporters of trophy hunting as an effective means to support and maintain wildlife conservation is growing. Recently, a scientist who studied Cecil the lion (who was killed last year in a much ballyhooed incident) has come out and declared that trophy hunting could well be a key to conserving the big cats.

Oxford University scientist David MacDonald said that the loss of habitat is the biggest threat to lion populations. This is, of course, something that hunters know intimately. Habitat loss has long been known to be the real threat to wildlife populations, with hunting assuming a major role in conserving habitat and wildlife populations. 

But it is nice that even those who may be ambivalent about hunting are recognizing this reality as well now.

Cecil was one of the lions that Professor MacDonald studied specifically, before the cat was killed by an American hunter that set off a firestorm of media controversy.

"The big issue here is lion conservation and how it can realistically be achieved," MacDonald said. "Whether or not I personally like lion hunting is irrelevant."

The professor also seemed to take a practical approach to hunting, an activity he admits he doesn't understand. "It is unfathomable to me that there could be joy in killing them," he said, "but for me the priority is halting, indeed reversing, their decline. Currently the evidence is that trophy hunting contributes to keeping hundreds of thousands of square kilometres available to lions and other wildlife."

MacDonald also acknowledged that if people do find trophy hunting unacceptable, the onus is on them to find something to replace it as a funding source.

"If so, then they have to look for a mechanism of replacing it with something that is acceptable," Macdonald said. "That might be people putting their money where their mouth is, buying out the hunting interest and replacing it with some sort of international payment for conservation."

MacDonald also admitted that alternatives such as eco-tourism and photo-safaris would not provide enough financial support to fund all conservation efforts.

Trophy hunting for lions takes place over an area of approximately 500,000 square kilometers, about a third of the total area that lions currently occupy.

Trophy hunting also brings in around $200-million in revenue in southern Africa, with lion hunting assuming around 5% to 17% of that total, much of which is used either directly or indirectly to support lion conservation.

MacDonald's report also states that 'expert and transparent committees' should oversee the activity of lion hunting in order to make sure that regulations are properly followed and that the benefit to lion populations is clear. Such committees would also make sure that a percentage of the money raised from trophy hunting would go directly to fund conservation programs.

He also suggested that only accredited hunters should be used so as to 'reduce the suffering of animals'. This last bit especially reveals MacDonald's ignorance of hunting, as every hunter, regardless of so-called accreditation (whatever that means) strives for clean and ethical kills.

But we will take this as a win for hunting, regardless of some of the more questionable aspects of MacDonald's thesis.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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NEXT: Great-Grandson of Theodore Roosevelt Speaks out on Hunting and Conservation

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Scientist Who Studied Cecil the Lion Supports Trophy Hunting