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Attitudes towards culling

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Posted (edited)

What are the options other than managing those lions, i.e., by culling? What are fenced reserves doing with their populations once they realise a full carrying capacity, or go over? Are they being reintroduced into other areas? I recall talking about such issues when touring KZN with @@Bugs who can hopefully comment more.

In Phinda they try a few things e.g. to use contraceptives, to make a surgery to remove one ovary, to change dominant males. But, I bet, culling is the cheapest one.

Edited by bettel

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I do not agree to sterilise and use contraceptives

I think that the link @@Bugs gave us is a really good FB discussion, one of the best I have read. Read it! Here it is again https://www.facebook.com/bubyevalleyconservationresearch/posts/1059514610788468

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My gut said that there is something wrong with the numbers in that article.

 

Thomas thanks for that reference to a true master of the subject matter when it comes to lions - Derek Joubert. Trust the expert to point out the flaws in its logic and advising not to take it too seriously.

 

The bigger debates still continue forever.

 

Question: Hunting and culling - Good or bad?

 

Answer: It depends

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Posted (edited)

@@Wildlife Detective Wildcru study the lions in Bubye conservancy. If you think the numbers are dodgy then you may want to question Wildcru. Derek Joubert did not study the lions in Bubye. He may be a great film maker and a v very successful high end lodge owner and probably regards himself as a celebrity, but I wouldn't take his opinions on wildlife management too seriously.

 

In favourable conditions lions numbers can double in two years. Over the last three weeks I have been staying with a person who studied the lions in Central Kalahari. Sadly what the public hears and believes is far removed from the facts on the ground.

Edited by Bugs

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Well reading the Bubye conservancy website they quote having 280 lions in 2009 and now 500 lions so roughly a 36 a year increase if my maths is correct.The same website says and I quote "And despite sensation RESPONSIBLE (my emphasis) trophy hunting cannot significantly affect lion population density" so they themselves do not believe the Cecil effect. The website does paint an impressive picture as a well managed conservancy. They point out that lions kill lions and indeed a finite area can only support a finite number of predators.

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@@Tomas Indeed that was a good discussion on fb. I hope they make some sort of exception for Bubye (and Save). They still get quotas imposed on them, but they introduced the lions, so I would argue they should have more to say about it. But even if they reduce the number of males, there will still be a lot of females in breeding ages around, and they can't legally be hunted in Zimbabwe anymore, so also not in Bubye. And if males don't have much competition they will happily 'service' the females in multiple prides. In male depleted lion populations it has often been suggested that the cub sex ration gets skewed in favor of males, however this has never really been found in the wild, only suggested.

But back to Bubye, you would have to keep the number of males pretty low for several years, before the nr of reproducing females declines (after they get 10-12 years old, and few female cubs make it to adulthood).

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@egilio As a hunter I have seen, read and studied how reducing the numbers of breeding males in a population affects the population. The biggest problem is not that it reduces the population it disrupts it in different way for some species like the elephant it’s a social disruption others it results in other its effects the time of conception and births. So to hunt only males to make a population decrease is as you say problematic at least. Even to keep a population at the same level by only hunting males does not really work if you hunting the older or younger ones the breeding males in their pride years should not be hunted this applies to a lot of different species but are a rule that of course has acceptations.

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I agree with that, it affects social aspects of those animals too, and elephants and lions have complex social lives. It also affects the genes. Elephant bulls big genes for 100+ pound tusks get taken early in life because their tusks are already too appealing to hunters to not be taken. Same for buffalo, in the 80s hunters in the Zambezi Valley on average shot buffalo with way wider horns than they do now. There are still plenty of buffalo and elephant...

Here are two interesting papers from the Zambian Carnivore Programme about how male loss affects lion populations and the sources of the male loss.

1, 2, and more of their publications can be found here. I think the full articles are behind a pay wall, but let me know if you're interested in them, or have more questions about them.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks @@egilio looks worth reading. I'd be interested in the full articles.

Edited by Geoff

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This video @@Bugs?

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On the subject of the lions in Bubye valley. There is an article Lion Culling - a paradox of banning trophy hunting

 

As already discussed - much about the article is sensationalist, and not related to the ban in trophy hunting at all. Its just that Bubye have found themselves with too many lions and have decided to reduce the numbers. A few years ago, the cull would have gone ahead unnoticed, but now everyone has an opinion and while the media are trying to get mileage some other people are seeing this as an opportunity to milk the donor.

 

In the article Pieter Kat reasons that 15 lions per 100sqkm is already double what they should have, and the lions should ultimately be between 4 or 5 lions per 100sqkm. So we are in agreement that Bubye have too many lions.

 

In the article Kat claims - "overpopulation appears intentional", and bemoans poor management as a reason for the overpopulation on "bad management procedures". Now if ever there was a contradiction here - blaming management procedures for the problem, but then taking offence when Bubye talk about management of the lions.

 

In the same article Lionaid co-trustee Christine Macsween argues that 3400 sqkm does not constitute a natural environment because it is fenced off, and there to be shot. i would then guess that she would argue that Bubye valley conservancy don't contribute to any conservation cause.

 

In another article KWS may reduce number of lions in Nairobi park by half

 

It becomes clear that Nairobi park has 70 lions in 117sqkm. Now 117 sqkm - is a large piece of real estate, but not large enough to support 70 lions. As large as the piece of land is - Bubye is still 30 times bigger. Its doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine that 70 lions is too many.

 

So while we agree that in this case, and many others - natural or "unnatural" population surpluses occur, and management is necessary, there seems to be a substantial amount of opinion surrounding solutions.

 

So often people will agree that there is a problem, but not offer a solution other than criticism.

 

We even agree that the African lion is facing serious challenges, but we don't seem to be able to agree on what those challenges are or how to provide a solution. So while we have identified two examples (and I could cite many many more) where areas are sitting with surplus wild lion populations, we are unable to find suitable habitat to move all those surplus animals to.

 

If the only alternative is to cull or to sterilise lions - then why on earth would anyone have a problem if those lions are trophy hunted, and the funds go towards securing the habitat and securing more habitat? The other question is how do we argue that the true threat to lions are trophy hunters and not habitat loss and conflict with humans?

 

 

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Hello @@Bugs there is a lot to agree with in your last post. I think I read the same articles that you have done-someone from Oxford university that does research there pointed out that with habitat roughly similar to parts of the Kruger the density of lions at Bubye was almost double-and the cause were artificial water holes keeping game numbers high, so that trophy hunting can be maximized. Habitat loss and human conflict are the main causes of the lions drastic fall in numbers, although one could argue that poorly regulated hunting ( and I am not saying that Bubye is an example of that) does a great deal of harm. every little helps, so to speak

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Thanks @@Towlersonsafari - one of the points I am trying to make is that the same trends replicate themselves in so many other areas.

 

There are people who think nature should be left to sort its own problems out, but I argue that there isn't a single piece of wildlife habitat on earth that doesn't experience some sort of manipulation as a result of man. As large as Kruger park is, the size is finite. As vast at the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier park is - its finite, and there are new sources of water, and boundaries that constrict wildlife, whether by fence or by the presence of humans.

 

Its unlikely that Bubye deliberately allowed the lion numbers to grow too big so as to increase hunting income. Note that they have 200 lions too many, an they aren't offering them to hunters, they are offering them to whoever will take them, failing which they will have to cull at their own expense. The knee jerk reaction to simply discredit them because they practice hunting doesn't fly for me.

 

To me all wildlife habitat is important. The more habitat under protection the better. Remember that only a small amount of habitat is under government protection and two thirds of all wildlife habitat is outside national parks. If we are too fixated on single (iconic) species we tend to forget about the importance of the trees, grasses, birds, fish insects and frogs that need the same habitat. So many people are so obsessed with anti-hunting agendas that it clouds their judgement, and puts obstacles in the way of constructive conservation practice.

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I agree @@Bugs with nearly everything in your post.It is doubtful if there is any habitat totally unaffected by man and it is the environment and all that goes to make that work that we as humans have a duty and obligation to protect.Sometimes that can work by concentrating on one species. Sometimes private initiatives work. Sometimes well run hunting may be the answer as much as I dislike it! It's perhaps the quality of management that is the key

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