egilio

A tense situation arising in South Luangwa

181 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

The last week only 1 Hollywood male has been seen.

 

i saw those 2 males 2 years ago - they were not spotting full manes which suggested they were still very young. and two years later, they are still very young. to "take" or kill them when they are so young will result in a repeat of those years when the strong genes and young males are wiped out and will eventually deplete the already low lion population. I sure hope Zambia knows what it is doing for tourism.

Edited by Kitsafari

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The last week only 1 Hollywood male has been seen.

 

 

Is there a chance that the one male took off on a patrol mission somewhere - got something big to feed off (buffalo?) - and then slept for a few days?

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@@Sangeeta

I'm not sure that my dad could add much to this debate (...is it a debate...or a missing lion search?), he hasn't hunted anything bigger than feral pest rabbits on his farm in Aus in over 30 years! And I'm not quite sure what it is you would want him to opine on anyway, but I am confident that he doesn't know the whereabouts of two specific lions in the Luangwa Valley.

 

His general view on the professional hunting industry in Zambia though (as has been expressed to me in the past) is that during his time (over 3 decades ago), much like any occupation, there were good honest people involved and dodgy unscrupulous people involved. In his time he had some of the dodgy people in both the hunting industry and the wildlife department kicked out, however he is now out of touch with the goings on given that most of his contemporaries have retired, passed away or he has lost touch with them over time.

 

The last time that my family were in South Luangwa (photographic/tourist safari) was in 2014 and the hunting ban was still in effect. Various people in the tourist industry who spoke to us (from general camp staff and game scouts to guides and owners) mentioned to my dad and I that while lion numbers in the park in particular appeared higher, the incidents of snaring and poaching in the GMAs had increased markedly and most felt that the government should revisit the ban on hunting as long as they took a far stricter and tougher stance on ensuring that ethical hunting practices were maintained and that quotas were better (ie more conservatively) calculated, particularly in relation to lion and leopard. The consensus was that with no wildlife related activities taking place in most areas of the GMAs, poaching had increased.

It isn't often reported in these debates, but my understanding is that the ban (actually it was a moratorium), rather than being imposed on the Zambian hunting fraternity was implemented following consultation with the Professional Hunters Association of Zambia (as well as other stakeholders such as ZAWA and the tourism industry) and had their full support.

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The last week only 1 Hollywood male has been seen.

 

 

Is there a chance that the one male took off on a patrol mission somewhere - got something big to feed off (buffalo?) - and then slept for a few days?

 

 

There's that chance, so I simply stated the fact.

The other male has been seen on 4 days now, recently on a buffalo kill with the nsefu pride.

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Posted (edited)

It isn't often reported in these debates, but my understanding is that the ban (actually it was a moratorium), rather than being imposed on the Zambian hunting fraternity was implemented following consultation with the Professional Hunters Association of Zambia (as well as other stakeholders such as ZAWA and the tourism industry) and had their full support.

The moratorium came into effect because the minister of Tourism at the time halted the tender process for the hunting concessions as she had reasons to believe it was corrupted. In fact she didn't have the power to do this, so later they changed the reasoning of the moratorium being that there were concerns about elephant, lion and leopard numbers and more should be known about their numbers. There is some data about elephants, some good data about lions in an area of South Luangwa, some data on lions in northern Kafue, and very little data about leopards (only in a small area in South Luangwa and bordering GMA).

 

Another odd thing. When the moratorium came into place, hunters pointed out that these areas would be overrun by poachers. But currently most operators in Zambia are fully booked this season and next season, while operators in Zimbabwe are struggling with some of them 90% of their hunts not sold. Why would trophy hunters rather go to areas which have been poached out for three years, than to areas which where there was trophy hunting but poaching controlled by the operators? I'm not saying the snaring hasn't increased in the last couple of years, it has increased, but it was already increasing before the moratorium came into place, and this year, with hunting returned, it hasn't come down either.

Edited by egilio

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Posted (edited)

@@egilio,

 

In the annual reports of Conservation South Luangwa for 2013 & 2014 (the years of the moratorium) Rachel McRobb wrote in her summaries (page 4 - 2013 report & pages 3-4 2014 report) that the hunting ban had caused additional pressure on their conservation activities and that poaching/snaring had increased (by implication as a result). In her 2015 summary, she noted that overall snaring/poaching was lower than previous years - see page 13 of the 2015 report - (I'm paraphrasing as I can't lift direct quotes due to my office computer using IE). Now I am not saying that the decrease in snaring in 2015 compared to 2013 and 2014 is directly related to the lifting of the hunting ban as I am sure that the arrival of the air patrol plane and the sniffer dogs played a major role in that as well, but I am just responding to your closing comment in your last paragraph above.

 

The annual reports are to be found here:

 

http://cslzambia.org/newsletters-annual-reports/

 

PS there may be many other reasons why hunters are booking Zambia rather than Zimbabwe... one being the rather obvious, it is Zambia... a nicer place to visit than Zimbobwe... ;)

Edited by ZaminOz

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Both Ginger and Garlic were seen last night.

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@@marg Is it confirmed and from good sources? If ao, that is the best news ive had today.

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I'm pretty sure the spice boys are OK indeed.

 

@@ZaminOz The 2015 snaring numbers were down, but if that was due to the plane, detection dogs or hunters is hard to disentangle. Usually when a new tactic/tool is employed it's very effective in the beginning, but then poachers adjust to it and work around it. We'll see what the numbers will be this year, but what I've heard it's not great.

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@@ZaminOz - hoping this will not devolve into a hunting/non-hunting debate, because that would be a waste of time really. What I want to achieve from this thread and this discussion are the following things:

 

1) Everyone tells us that trophy hunting is a good thing IF it is not corrupt, IF it is managed using sound practices, IF it is done ethically, IF it is regulated etc etc etc. Well, I have heard these arguments endlessly and I am using this case as an example to see what is actually happening on the ground.

 

2) From your dad, I only wanted to know if he could help us ID the lion hunted on Oct 15-16 in Upper Lupande through his contacts, but I now understand that he's no longer involved at all, so no worries about that.

 

3) The lifting of the moratorium with the consent of all stakeholders is not particularly reassuring to me at least. From what I can see here, whether it is the photo operators, the hunting operators or the other stakeholders, everyone seems to be turning a blind eye to what is really happening on the ground.

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@@Kitsafari,..YES!

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Ginger and Garlic = The Spice Boys - and wonderful to know that they are safe.

 

The Hollywood Boys = second set of lions. One of these has gone missing from the day we heard about the Upper Lupande hunt. This is the pair we are worried about. Does anyone know anything about them? Egil has reported that 1 of the pair has been seen alone on several occasions since the hunt.

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This is the sequence of events so far:

 

1) We got news that lion hunting has resumed in the GMAs adjoining SLNP. We knew that hunters like full maned lions. We knew there are at least 2 sets of very handsome lions in SLNP who could find themselves in these GMAs. We also knew that these 2 sets of lions are 'pride males' - i.e. that they were servicing several prides and had many dependent cubs.

 

2) Most times, we get news of lions being shot only after the fact. When it's too late to do anything. When hunters simply say - "oops, we did not know", "oops, we did not see the collar", "oops, that was a mistake".

This time, we were forewarned and we decided to forewarn them.

 

3) This was the logic behind making and circulating that petition. This was the logic behind those quotes from Safari Club International regarding their position on the ethics of hunting pride males. We thought we should publicize this as much as we could so that later, these people could no longer say, oops, we did not know.

 

4) As of now, we don't have confirmation that the lion we think was hunted has indeed been hunted. But it is looking bad. Trying to seek confirmation. And if people are indeed doing things by the book, there is no reason not to get that confirmation.

 

This is where we are. No discussions here about the pros and cons of hunting. I am simply trying to analyze what happened and how.

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Posted (edited)

SCIENCE: Studies show that in the South Luangwa area where the bush is thicker, lions reach a "huntable age" at 7 years. The 6-year rule applies to East African lions who live in open savanna and have a much larger prey base.

 

In the Lusaka Times article cited above, the head of the Professional Hunters Association of Zambia is quoted as saying that they negotiated this age down to 5 years.

 

I want to know the basis of this agreement? Was it based on science? If so, which science? Who were the parties to this negotiation and agreement?

 

I don't think it was based on science because scientific studies have shown that the lion population of SLNP can be extirpated by hunting alone (not snaring, not habitat encroachment, not any of the other reasons that are routinely cited for loss of lion populations in other parts of Africa).

 

RPS, in their letter to Janzin said that more lions are lost from inter-lion conflict and livestock protection than are lost to hunting. This is simply NOT TRUE in South Luangwa. If you read the Rosenblatt paper, you will see that 1 fewer lion was lost to natural injuries than was lost to trophy hunting. And since when has livestock and livestock protection become an issue in the tsetse infested Luangwa valley?

 

We cannot allow people to conflate places and circumstances without challenging or at least examining their statements.

 

What is the science involved in lowering the age to 5 years? Please educate me someone.

 

What is the sound management involved in shooting males in their prime that are protecting dependent cubs? Please educate me someone.

Edited by Sangeeta
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@@Sangeeta,

 

There are now significant numbers of domestic livestock in the Mid Luangwa valley particularly in Mambwe and Katete Districts (cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys, poultry etc) despite tsetse flies and predators due to population influx from the Chipata and Mpika areas. Therefore predator-livestock conflict is now more of an issue than it was historically.

 

https://parasitesandvectors.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13071-015-0827-0

 

You are right though, this shouldn't be a hunting v non-hunting debate as that counterproductively misses the point. This is about conservation and conservation is about the protection of wildlife environments and the natural biodiversity within them. It unfortunately isn't about (and shouldn't be about) the fate of individual animals ("named" or otherwise).

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Posted (edited)

ZO, thanks for the link. Yes, it does indeed appear that there is now more livestock in the mid-Luangwa Valley, but the numbers cited in the paper are still relatively small - certainly there is no mention of predator-livestock conflict and unless there is some paper out there stating that many lions have been killed by locals to protect livestock, I still think it is fair to call out that statement by RPS. From what I can see, loss of predators to livestock protection is not a major role for the loss of lions in the Luangwa Valley. Such is the case in many parts of Africa, it is true, but not here.

 

Contrary to what people may think, naming or not naming animals does not make them any more or less wild. The Hollywood Boys would have played the same role in their eco-system even if they were called H-1 and H-2 or even if they had no name at all. They would still have been servicing these prides and still had these dependent cubs. In the future, a young pair of lions can be called Cuddles and Snuggles for all I care, but if they were 5 years old, then they would still continue to have been 5-years old, idiotic name or no idiotic name.

 

The only advantage to someone like me trying to get to the bottom of this story is that a named lion is easier to track than an unnamed, anonymous lion. So the questions I am asking (and to which I have more questions to add next week) don't change because this missing lion is named. The real questions here are these:

 

1) On what basis was the huntable age of lions in Zambia reduced to 5 by the Hunters Association & the government?

2) Which management practices allow or encourage pride males to be hunted?

3) If the SCI puts forward an 'ethical' rule, then should hunters abide by these rules?

4) What are the reporting practices for hunted lions? Should they comply with CITES requirements?

 

And many many more...

Edited by Sangeeta
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Sangeeta, is it known that he's gone? or still just missing?

Surely - the guides in the Valley will have a clue after a week?

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No news yet, Hari. I don't know at what point a 'missing lion' can reasonably be called a dead lion.

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Then there's the chance that they say, "Lion died in a territorial fight in GMA" etc etc., ........... there always is an excuse to cover up!

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1) On what basis was the huntable age of lions in Zambia reduced to 5 by the Hunters Association & the government?

2) Which management practices allow or encourage pride males to be hunted?

3) If the SCI puts forward an 'ethical' rule, then should hunters abide by these rules?

4) What are the reporting practices for hunted lions? Should they comply with CITES requirements?

 

And many many more...

 

1) On the basis that they find it hard to distinguish a 6 year old from a 5 year old. But it is also hard to distinguish a 5 year old from a 4 year old, so it's a non-argument. I the rule is 6, and you're not sure about 5 or 6, then you don't shoot it. Adult male lions between 4-8 have very high natural survival rates, typically >90%. So if you see a male of 5-6 years old, it's pretty safe to wait and shoot him a year later.

 

2) Not sure what you're aiming at

 

3) SCI didn't endorse the rule of a 'huntable male lion'. This rule was developed by hunters and (some) scientists and was endorsed by DSC, but not by SCI.

 

4) They should comply with CITES requirements. GPS location, date, time, photos at least, but don't expect that data to be public.

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@@Sangeeta

None of CITES, SCI or DSC have any legal authority in Zambia. SCI and DSC are just clubs for rich hunters in the USA.

In Zambia all Professional Hunters must be licenced in accordance with the Zambia Wildlife Act 1998 and are thus subject to it. Anyone who conducts a safari as a PH who is not licenced commits an offence under the Act.

The Act further contains regulations in relation to hunting which if breached are prosecutable offences making the person committing them liable to financial fines, imprisonment or both.

 

The offences listed in sections 62 to 85 include such things as:

 

- hunting any animal without a licence for it;

- hunting on another person's licence (or allowing another person to use a PH licence);

- hunting of females with dependant young / hunting dependant young animals;

- hunting or discharging a firearm from a vehicle, boat or plane (other than bird shooting);

- using a vehicle, boat or plane to stampede or drive game or protected animals;

- using dogs to hunt or drive game or protected animals;

- using fire to hunt or drive game or protected animals;

- setting or using poisons or poisoned weapons;

- setting or using fences, pitfalls, snares, traps or explosives;

- hunting or shooting in the hours of darkness;

- hunting or shooting with a torch/spot light;

- failing to report the details of any animal killed in self defence;

- failing to take all reasonable steps to follow up and kill any wounded dangerous animal;

- causing undue or unnecessary suffering to any wild animal (ie failing to kill it as swiftly and painlessly as practicable);

- harassing or provoking any wild animal to cause it distress.

 

I am not sure but I think that the Act pre-dates the adoption of the age of lions protocols discussed above. However I would think that a sensible approach would be to clearly define in the Act what is a "shoot-able lion" (ie not reasonably known to be a pride male, above a certain age etc) and then make it an offence to shoot a lion that does not fit the definition. At face value this may be practical, but the can of worms that I envisage is that the argument for the use of such definitions could be extended to every species hunted from guinea fowl to hippo... which would make the whole thing impracticable. ]

But, as arbitrary as it might seem, limiting it to lions (ie enshrining in law the ethical rule of non pride males over a certain age) would seem achievable.

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For my small brain, there are two issues running here. While they are linked, I think it might get very confusing if (and it really is an if right now) it turns out that one of the lions mentioned has been shot by hunters. I know discussions can ramble and I am not trying to be a "stay on topic" busybody here... bear with me and I will get to the point..

 

1. Are the Hollywood boys okay and if not how the hell is this even allowed? Everybody who viists the area as a tourst can have this feeling, regardless of what they think about hunting in general as a conservation tool, or specifically as a conservation tool in the GMAs around South Luangwa. I don't think anyone (except someone who just wants to be contrary to make a point) really thinks shooting one of the most viewed, filmed and appreciatred pride males in the South Luangwa in his prime is a good thing. Should it turn out that one of the males has been killed, this side of the discussion will feature some biting comments about the people who would do something like this, expressions of genuine sadfness and regret, and fully justified concern for the pride. Should it turn out that the "missing" male (inverted commas because lions don't have known addresses) is fine and outside the GMA, we'll all be relieved and the conversation will probably fizzle out.

 

But of course the lions will still be at risk. So perhaps this thread will develop into a longer-term South Luangwa "hunt watch" thing?

 

For most of us this is an unashamadely emotion-based discussion (and I don't mean that in a derogatory way, as some do) but with a strong factual justification..

 

 

2, Is permitting lion hunting in the GMAs compeltely unjustifiable from a conservation standpoint, and is it in fact going to cost more than it brings in? Perhaps more urgently,does it put the lion population of South Luangwa at real risk? Hanging on to the tail of this is the benefit or otherwise of the GMAs at all and not far behind that is of course the whole "hunting or not" debate (looking as usual like bone-dry grass just waiting for a spark to ignite it though my eyes, but you can make up your own, more postiive metaphor of course).

 

This is a very strongly fact-based discussion.

 

 

Following up a metaphor with an allegory (just to be really annoying), it's like we're waiting for the doctor to come and tell us the outcome of a high risk operation on a friend, and while we are waiting we start discussing the nature and causes of the disease from which our friend is suffering (let's make a version of the big C) . There is some disagreement over causation of course, and a couple of family members are absolutley convinced that it was passive smoking that did it and smoking should just be banned and smokers forced to give up or put in jail. A lively discussion ensues, with those who are intimate with careful, responsible smokers taking some offence. However, when the doctor enters the room. with the news that the operation has been a success , all that offence is forgotten and we happily head for the pub together for a celebratory drink.

 

But is that what is happening here? Are we passing the time with more general questions 2. until the specific question 1. is resolved? Or are we now discussing the general questions 2. and specific question 1. has become incidental? Or are we doing both?

 

Why does it matter, other than the usual concern that someone is going to join the discussion mid-stream and start swinging? Well, perhaps it matters because I don't know what to say or whose posts to like or what not to like, because it all depends on whether we are having discussion 1 or discussion 2 and if I (just for example) "like" ZaminOz am I implicitly saying that one of the Hollywood Boys being shot by a hunter would be A-okay by me? Is ZaminOz somehow implying this himself (answer is "no"). And if I quite like the idea of a South Luangwa hunt watch thing because I hope it would help the GMAs to perform their function better in the longer terrn, do I need to explain the logic behind that, as I would naturally in a debate about the efficacy of GMAs? Ot would explaining the logic just look like emojisplaining (that's like mansplaining but it's what macho blokes like me do to oither macho blokes when we take a position that sounds mightly like an emotionally-driven response and yes, I just made it up).

 

Of course pault has already dived in and both liked ZaminOz and praised Sangeeta's initiative and he is also hereby admitting to a certain more-than-scientific concern for the welfare of the "missing" Hollywood male and hoping for good news... so this is just a hypothetical. But hypothetically, if people were confused, might one discussion be a lot less productive than two in this case?

 

Maybe I am just being very self-centered. Maybe only I could feel this way.

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Posted (edited)

@@pault

please note that in "liking" your post I am in no way implying that I did not like any other posts, it is just that I was drinking a cup of coffee when I read it and it was very nice coffee which I liked, so I liked your post too... oh and I probably agreed with those parts that I could follow ;)

 

Oh... and just for the record:

1) I too hope that the two Hollywood males do NOT get shot, or snared, or gored, or trampled or suffer regicide.

2) The "Hollywood" pride was so named years ago, most likely before the two current Hollywood males were born, so they are probably not the famously filmed lions that gave rise to the name but are more likely the usurpers who killed either the two famously filmed lions that gave rise to the name (or at least their offspring).

Edited by ZaminOz
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I am happy you enjoyed your coffee, but I dare not like you back in case it implies something like I agree that I don't take my own comments seriously, or consider them less likable than a good coffee (although I know which of the two I would pay for).

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@@Sangeeta Sorry this has got away from me and the discussion has developed further here from the original points: perhaps it would make sense to revise the title of this topic and edit in a link within the first post to the other topic you mentioned?

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