Trophy Hunting Could Actually Help Lions

Only under the right conditions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2016 11:32 AM CDT
Trophy Hunting Could Actually Help Lions
Cecil the Lion is seen in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park in 2013.   (AP Photo/Sean Herbert)

It may be a tough one for animal lovers to swallow, but a study out of the University of Kent suggests trophy hunting of lions might actually be good for the species. Specifically, researchers say trophy hunting facilitates the maintenance of large areas of lion habitat—but only under certain conditions, per a release. After studying lion populations in Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve—where a variety of companies hold the hunting rights to different blocks of land—researchers found blocks under short-term control were generally over-hunted. But in those blocks that had been owned by the same company for at least a decade, "lion trophy hunting levels were sustainable ... thereby also maintaining important habitat for this threatened species," researchers say.

It makes sense that a company with control over an area for a brief period might be less concerned with its state at the end of that time than a company in it for the relative long-term. But why not leave the land to the lions alone? Lions require a lot of land, and their habitat is shrinking, not growing. This puts the onus of funding the maintenance of such areas on the trophy-hunting companies, researchers say. (A hidden lion population was recently found.)

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