egilio

A tense situation arising in South Luangwa

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@@Rein Kuresoo Which camp were staying at? Great news about the Spice boys, but I haven't heard from anybody seeing the second Hollywood boy in the last couple of weeks.

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@egilio We stayed at Nkonzi camp, but Garlic and Ginger were seen near Katete bridge. About Hollywood boys - Guide Abraham told us about his recent sighting then, but it is not that recent any more, of course.

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I have seen an attempt in Mana Pools just this past week to radio collar a popular iconic Elephant ala Boswell so that the hunters won't get him (of course, won't stop him from the poachers) - might something like this work with the iconic Lions in SLNP?

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Initially ZCP did collar male lions. The reason researchers collar animals is to increase the probability of observing them. An analysis of data referenced to here earlier (the Rosenblatt paper) revealed that indeed collaring a female lion increased the probability of observing all members in the pride considerably, however, the detection probability between male lions in coalitions with collared member and coalitions which weren't collared didn't really differ that much. Most likely because males often associate with females. On top of that, tourists prefer to see uncollared lions, especially uncollared males. If you encounter a pride of 3 females with 5 cubs and one of the females is collared, you still have plenty of photo opportunities with the uncollared animals. But when you encounter a male lion, alone, but he's collared, it might affect your experience considerably. These were the reasons to not collar male lions anymore.

Would collaring male lions protect them from being hunted? No. It's legal to shoot a collared male lion. Some hunters wouldn't do it, considering the research. However, one aspect of the research is to document causes of death. This is usually very difficult, as dead animals are hard to find. Your chances of documenting a cause of death for a collared animals are much higher. But if hunters are prohibited to hunt collared animals, researchers will systematically underestimate the cause of death from hunting.

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@madaboutcheetah The idea of putting a collar on Boswell I would assume, is that it won't guarantee his safety but it should discourage trophy hunters from shooting him, even though they would still be legally entitled to do so if he wanders into a hunting area.

 

Some years ago a popular bull elephant known as the Musango Bull who lived in and around Matusadona NP was collared to try and protect him. Unfortunately it didn’t, he wandered out of the park into a hunting area and was shot by a trophy hunter. The professional hunter stated that he didn’t see the collar until after the elephant was shot, and wouldn’t have let his client shoot him if he’d seen it. Having seen a few collared elephants I find this rather hard to believe. The probable truth is that they saw the elephant was collared but shot it anyway, because it’s not against the law to shoot collared animals and they didn’t think they would ever get a chance at a better trophy bull. This happened before the whole Cecil affair, now following Cecil’s death I think it would be more difficult for a hunter to get away with doing such a thing. Boswell is such an icon of Mana Pools it would be a very foolish of a hunter to shoot him and a collar should make it much more difficult for a hunter to claim they didn’t know it was him. Whatever his client might want, I can't imagine that a professional hunter living in Zimbabwe would want to be known for having allowed his client to kill Boswell.

 

The Killing Of The 'Musango Bull Elephant'

 

Collar did not Protect Beloved Elephant from Safari Hunter

 

I don’t know if this would necessarily work with a lion, because it is legal to shoot a collared animal, you are relying entirely on the PH’s personal ethics not to shoot it. If you did this to an animal like a bear in the US it would probably make it more of a target for hunters not less, they would kill it to prove a point, essentially if the law allows me to shoot it then I'll shoot it, because a wild animal is just a wild animal regardless of whether it has a name or a collar and killing a popular animal will get all the 'Bunny Huggers' seriously angry as a bonus. I'm sure there are hunters who would go to Africa with a similar attitude. What might possibly keep a lion safe is hunters not wanting to be identified and becoming the next Walter Palmer and ‘Public Enemy Number One’, whether it would need to be collared I’m not sure. Some hunters in the US may be very happy to shoot a popular well known animal, but only if they can remain anonymous and avoid the backlash, it might perhaps be harder for a hunter going to Africa to stay anonymous.

 

In an earlier post I rather played down the threat posed to lions by trophy hunting which I now rather regret. It’s true to say that the decline and in some cases demise of lion populations in West and Central Africa and other parts of the continent is not the result of trophy hunting. However it’s all too easy as hunters do, to point the finger at pastoralists carrying out revenge killings and farmers destroying habitat because they are the bigger threat. To blame them entirely for the plight of lions and make out that trophy hunting is not really part of the problem at all. Having said that, I do think that a lot of people who defend lion hunting genuinely may not be aware that there is actually a real problem. For people who hunt or who support hunting there is a tendency to see any attack on any aspect of hunting as being motivated by animal rights. Instead of looking to see if there is in fact a problem with lion hunting, they will dismiss concerns about lion hunting as coming from animal rights campaigners rather than from conservationists. Despite what I said earlier about the naming of lions, making a fuss over named lions does play in to the hands of those who mistakenly think this is all some phoney animal rights issue. It also doesn’t help that the IUCN still classifies lions as vulnerable rather than as endangered, they may be correct in doing this but it allows lion hunters to get away with claiming that it’s okay to hunt lions because lions aren’t endangered.

 

While broadly supporting trophy hunting if it is well managed for pragmatic conservation reasons, I’ve always had difficulty with the issue of lion hunting. I have for a long time been aware of growing concerns that lion hunting is not sustainable, but I didn’t know if this was entirely down to bad management. I didn’t know whether better management could make such hunting sustainable or whether lion behaviour makes sustainable hunting almost impossible.

 

I would not have an issue with genuinely sustainable hunting of lions if it’s done humanely preferably not with bows and arrows and if it doesn’t involve baiting popular habituated lions out of national parks.

 

The question for me is can lion hunting be made sustainable?

 

I was therefore very interested to read an article in the BBC Wildlife Magazine about some research on this very issue conducted in the Selous GR in Tanzania. The research would seem to suggest that lion hunting can be made sustainable. The gist of the argument is that hunting companies should have to lease concessions on a long term basis of at least 10 years. There is a bit more to it but this is something I have always felt with trophy hunting, that concessions should have to be held for a minimum time period.

 

The BBC Wildlife article also made the point that hunting does fund conservation. One of the researchers Bob Smith states

 

“I find trophy hunting odd. I’ve never hunted anything in my life. But at the moment trophy hunting is play an important role [in conserving species].”

 

“We just don’t have enough funding to conserve lions to protect and manage these areas and tackle poaching” Smith told BBC Wildlife Magazine. “If everyone who complained about trophy hunting gave a pound we could sort it but they don’t”.

 

I completely agree with this last point, reading a lot of newspaper articles and accompanying comments during the Cecil furore, I wished that people would understand that what lions and other wildlife need is their money not their anger. Animal campaigners really need to accept that like it or not hunting does protect habitat and fund conservation (however imperfectly) and if they want it to stop then they need to pay for it to stop, they need to find realistic alternative ways to fund conservation. If you want to help lions don’t write angry letters and comments about what you think of the Walter Palmers of this world, donate money to lion conservation.

 

To get to the real point of this post the research cited in the BBC Wildlife article was published in PLOS ONE here is a link

 

Sustainability and Long Term-Tenure: Lion Trophy Hunting in Tanzania

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Thanks @@inyathi - interesting info!

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