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janzin

Cecil's son Xanda killed by hunter

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I'm just so disgusted with humanity right now. Nothing else to say, I don't want to get into the whole lion hunting debate all over again, but I hadn't seen this posted yet; I thought folks here would want to know.

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/cecil-lion-son-xanda-shot-dead-trophy-big-game-hunters-zimbabwe-hwange-national-park-a7851246.html

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I heard about this when driving home. He was a legitimate target I believe. Well, what can I say. Small mercy as apparently he died quickly after being shot with bullets rater than dying a painful protracted death like his father, shot by an arrow. 

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@janzin I am totally with you on this one. I am beyond pissed. I read about it earlier today on FB and just wanted to explode. :angry:

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Posted (edited)

I am truly incensed now....the article on USA today talks about the hunter leading the group being a "good guy"..  that it was legal because he was over 6. Never mind he was a research lion, never mind he had small cubs (now sure to be killed), not to mention that a valuable gene pool is further decimated. The hunter is not a good guy and Zimbabwe better wake up because people will not go there when there are no lions left. No lion with a collar or cubs should be legally killed. Period. And the age? I think that needs to be raised. I am just sick to my stomach with this news. I am 200% against trophy hunting- it is  despicable and evil. And the whole conservation theory crap? BS......just absolute BS.....if you keep killing off vital gene pools there will be none left. Oh....I am just boiling. There isn't an emoticon that shows a round face spitting nails which is what I need right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by lmonmm
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@lmonmm I am totally with you on that. We need an angry emoticon!

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Quote

 

Hunting may generate money but I don't like it at all

 

if Mugabe had not wrecked the country so much more people would visit it to appreciate it not kill the animals

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This is a very sad news, indeed!

 

Here is a picture of Xanda taken in March 2016

 

_K4E4873.jpg.b02b141fef86920f108a1c15b9e88145.jpg

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I can only say that I'm not happy because another magnificent and increasingly endangered animal was killed in the name of "conservation". I am glad that Great Plains and other ecotourism lodges are planning to expand in Zimbabwe after elections.

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It is, perhaps, understandable that some correspondents here are revolted to learn of the death of this picturesque lion at the hands of a trophy hunter.  However, I would implore them to set their gut instincts aside and, at least, try to understand the issue from a conservation perspective.  I genuinely believe, along with many others, that African wildlife and African people would benefit enormously from a move away from a protectionist model of conservation towards one embracing sustainable use.  However, it seems to me that the majority of those who express opinions on this subject on Safaritalk take a protectionist stance and are so sure of their moral superiority that they refuse even to attempt to understand or address any evidence that conflicts with their worldviews.  However, for those with more open minds, might I suggest that they read about the Bubye Valley Conservancy (www.bubyevalleyconservancy.com) and, in particular, to the following article on the subject of lion culling:  www.voices.nationalgeographic.com/..../culling-to-conserve-a-hard-truth-for-lion-conserva.../ .  This article represents an excellent starting point for more informed debate. I do hope that many of the protectionists here take the trouble to read it and, if they disagree with any of it, to explain why. 

 

  

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@douglaswise I tracked down the article: http://voices.nationalgeographic.org/2016/02/25/culling-to-conserve-a-hard-truth-for-lion-conservation/

It makes a case for culling which may or may not be appropriate - I have not seen data to support or refute (athough a lot of opinion).  I guess my concern is that culling may be seen as non-selective or may even select out the slowest or least healthy. Trophy hunting however may do the opposite - select out the strongest, healthiest 'most magnificent'. Thus culling is more likely to have neutral or positive effects on the gene pool whereas trophy hunting may well have the opposite effect.

If the scientific evidence can be seen as supportive then culling could be supported as an unpleasant necessity. Trophy hunting however tends to provoke a significant degree of moral outrage (at least in me) for a number of reasons that have been well rehearsed by others.

I am therefore not altogether clear that one can equate culling with trophy hunting and use arguments for one to justify the other.

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It seems that there are hardly any lions left to hunt outside protected areas - in the hunting areas that surrounds PA - since lions that roam outside PA , might get shot. Can anyone clarify that. Trophy hunting if managed well, protects animals and vast areas, I believe. Although I don't understand that one has the moral to shoot a magnificent lion esp. With a collar. 

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I hear what you're saying, @douglaswise.

 

FWIW I used to be one of those "angry anti-hunting people". Don't get me wrong; I still hate hunting. Or rather; I hate that it still needs to happen. The keyword here being "needs". It's what none of the angry people want to hear. It's what I didn't want to hear. But now that I'm here in the bush permanently, I see how complex the matter is, and how a small amount of trophy hunting is needed to "balance the books". 

 

I don't know what the exact situation in Zim is like though. I can only shed a light on what's happening here in the Kruger Lowveld. Once or twice a year, the private reserves "feel the heat" from the anti-hunting community. And that community does not seem to (want to) understand the difference between the reserves themselves and the ecolodges on them. The result is that these angry people call for a ban of all lodges on these reserves, while those very lodges are the only things that are slowly pushing out trophy hunting.  It really is an "ecotourism vs hunting" battle. But how can ecotourism win, if you support (or ask for) a ban on it?

 

Even worse is that lodge owners of Sabi Sands (Mr. Varty, for example) and providers of photo-safaris who use Sabi Sands' lodges, decide to get on that same "ban those lodges" train. While they very well know that their own reserve has a history of trophy hunting as well. While they very well know that their evolution to full eco-tourism was a rough ride (there was leopard- and lion baiting there, in the old days). And while they very well know that their reserve still has some way to go (just one example; theirs is the reserve with by far most landscaping going on, to make it easier for their customers to see certain key species. However this has a serious impact on a lot of other species; insects, grass-nesting birds, ... And we all know an impact at the bottom of the food chain has an impact all the way to the top).

Of course it's easy for them to talk; they're by far the most commercialised of all reserves (52 lodges now). They don't need trophy hunting that much. But it's a blow below the belt. They just want to put their own reserve in a better light, and lure some more customers their side. So much for all fighting at the same side; for ecotourism.

 

Ah... I'm rambling now. But it's difficult for me to stay out of discussions like this. Sometimes, I wish people would be able to stand in my shoes, just to feel the impact of those five horrible minutes when I was looking down on a freshly poached rhino cow, while the vet was cutting the tiny unborn baby out of the womb... But then again that's something I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. Anyway if we are to win this bloody poaching war; we need that money, people. Preferably by ecotourism, but by trophy hunting if needed. 

 

 

 

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It is very sad to read this but it does, in this instance, appear to be a legal hunt as confirmed by WildCru in the article. He was obviously out of the 'safe' area.

 

Still a shame

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I’m not going to justify the shooting of this particular lion, however I will make a few points to try and I hope clarify things a little bit.

 

The researcher described Mr Cooke as being one of the good guys meaning he is one of the good hunters as opposed to the the bad hunters , if you regard all hunting as bad you may not see the distinction, but the point is he obeys the rules and acts in accordance with the law clearly some hunters don’t. It is legal to hunt animals wearing tracking collars, so if he had a lion on quota then he was entitled to shoot Xanda just as much as any other lion, the collar doesn’t make any difference and the researchers are well aware of this fact. If a hunter sees that an animal is collared and knows it is a well known research animal it is purely down to his personal ethics whether he allows his client to take the shot or decides to hope for a different animal to show up. Obviously if he thinks this might be the only shot at a lion or elephant that my client is going to get on this trip, he may well completely disregard the fact that it is collared, but then he’s is under no obligation to not shoot the animal. Mr Cooke having allowed his client to shoot Xanda handed in the collar as required with all of the details of the hunt, besides wanting their collar back the information about the hunt that Mr Cooke provided may prove useful for their research. This pride evidently lives on the park boundary, so the lions naturally spend a fair bit of their rime outside the park, it has not been suggested that he baited Xanda out of the park, he just got lucky that the pride was outside the park at the time of the hunt. Unlike in Cecil’s case where it appears that they used a bait to lure Cecil out of Hwange and then attempted to destroy the tracking collar to cover up the fact that they had killed Cecil. Based on my understanding of what happened they didn’t even have a lion on quota for the area where Cecil was shot, so the legality of the entire incident was extremely dubious, even if no one was prosecuted in the end. Even if you don’t like hunting you have to accept that if hunting is going on, it’s better that it is done entirely legally than illegally as appears was the case with Cecil. It is questionable whether legal lion hunting is sustainable in all cases, but there is no question that illegal lion hunting is not sustainable.

 

The researchers from the Hwange Lion Project have to be on good friendly terms with the hunters, the future of these and other lions will ultimately depend on scientists, conservationists and hunters cooperating.  Xanda was 6 years old and the minimum legal age that a lion can be shot is 6, this age was determined by scientific research conducted in Tanzania, however Cecil when he was shot was 13 years old and appeared to still be in great condition so Xanda might if he’d been lucky might have had perhaps another 6-7 more years of breeding ahead of him. This then raises the obvious question is the minimum age of a shootable lion too low, does it need to be raised? it may be that differences in habitat mean that 6 years is the right age for the lions in Tanzania where that research was conducted but not for lions in Zimbabwe. Research will I hope answer this question, but I personally think the age should probably be raised to 8 years old, however hunters will object to this, therefore we need good solid evidence to demonstrate why this is necessary. Of course I don't know how easy it would be for a PH to identify if a lion is 8 years old or not. The researchers need hunters like Mr Cooke to do the right thing, they can as I said use the information that he provided in their research, the hunters need to stay on side with the scientists also because the last thing they want is the scientists trying to shut them down. A serious conflict between scientists and hunters where neither side trust the other would be a very bad thing, if the hunters believe the scientists are trying put them out of business and stop lion hunting altogether, they might perhaps then try to get the scientists kicked out of Hwange. There’s no evidence as far as I can see that there was any corruption involved in this hunt, but there is plenty of corruption in Zimbabwe, it's not be hard to imagine a scenario in which some corrupt official/.s decides to shut down the research or at least curtail their activities on behalf of the hunters.

 

I also wonder whether anyone stops to think what the average Zimbabwean thinks of all of this, bearing in mind that it was reported only a few days ago that a ten year old Zimbabwean girl was killed by a lion when she went to relieve herself behind her hut. The story about Xanda being shot in the Independent has some 80+ comments from people very angry about this; the story in the same paper about the girl killed by a lion has no comments at all. I don’t want to make some point about how we’ve all got our moral compasses skewed because we care about a lion but not an African child, the point really is if we care about the survival of lions then we have to care about the loss of this child’s life or any person's life or even just the loss of livestock. People in rural parts of Zimbabwe and elsewhere living next to national parks or game reserves or just in still fairly wild areas, bear a heavy cost living alongside large dangerous wildlife, like lions and elephants and we who care about the survival of these animals need to bear that in mind. Not so much here on Safaritalk because nearly everyone has been to Africa, but elsewhere people express their moral outrage at the killing of this lion, but don't give a moments thought to what it's like for the people who have to live with these animals. There will be many in Zimbabwe who think that lions are a dangerous nuisance that need to be got rid of to protect their lives.

 

Lion kills girl just metres from her home in Zimbabwe

 

If we were to completely stop lion hunting we need to seriously weigh up whether that will be an entirely positive thing for all lions or whether it may in fact have a negative impact on some lion populations. Certainly an end to lion hunting would be good for the lions in Hwange National Park because it would put a stop to the problem of males being effectively sucked out of the park, males from inside the park gravitate to the territories on the edge or outside the park that have become vacant following the shooting of the resident male, because they don’t need to fight to take over the territory. However if people in and around these areas no longer benefit from these lions living outside the park will they tolerate them or will they try to get rid of them. At the same time the hunting of lions has to be sustainable, following the Cecil the lion affair Brent Stapelkamp the researcher who collared Cecil raised serious concerns about the sustainability of lion hunting suggesting that it isn’t. A Scientist Bob Smith studying the effects of lion hunting in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania published a paper on the subject showing that much of the lion hunting there, as it is currently conducted is not sustainable and gave various recommendations as to how it could be made sustainable. Here’s a link to the research paper.

 

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

 

The problem is that a lot people who oppose hunting (just generally speaking not here per say) haven’t got as far as thinking about what the alternative is or what will happen if hunting stops or just simplistically think that photo tourism can step in and take over. Equally a lot of hunting supporters and believers in sustainable use, particularly from America where conservation does rely pretty heavily on hunting, don’t seem to realise that not every country functions like America does. They don’t take in to account issues like corruption which is a major problem in many African countries and is one reason why lion hunting in Tanzania often isn’t sustainable. They also too often ignore the aspect of lion behaviour, namely infanticide when males take over a pride that makes hunting lions entirely different to hunting other species and that has to be factored in if such hunting is to be sustainable. It is all too easy for some to place all of the blame for the decline in lion numbers on pastoralists poisoning and spearing them or on habitat destruction or anything else other than hunting when in some locations badly managed trophy hunting is actually the major threat.

 

I don’t much like the idea of trophy hunters killing lions but as I have said before I support sustainable well managed hunting carried out humanely, I can’t therefore even if I find the death of Xanda distasteful object to all lion hunting. What I hope is that WildCRU’s research, that the Hwange Lion Project will determine exactly what impact lion hunting is having on the park’s lions and whether or not it really is sustainable. That if it is not sustainable then new rules will need to be introduced such as raising the minimum shootable age of lions and perhaps reducing the number that can be shot within a given period of time. Hunters won't like it because it will impact on their business, but the survival of lions has to be the priority and if hunting isn't truly sustainable it will kill itself off in the end. 

 

Having said that it looks like almost all of the world’s major airlines have said that they won’t transport lion trophies or in some cases any big five trophies, animal campaigners have successfully campaigned for this as a back doorway of trying to get trophy hunting stopped. However I don’t think this will stop trophy hunting necessarily, but I assume it will make it very difficult or expensive for hunters to get their trophies home, the obvious assumption is that hunters won't want to hunt if they don't get to take home a trophy afterwards.  

Edited by inyathi
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Posted (edited)

Thank you for your well-reasoned post, @inyathi . My problem with these incidents and then erupting arguments very often is that we have "All hunting is evil" on one side and "Stupid bunny-huggers without any grasp of reality, please do finally accept that conservation would be dead without hunting". Personally I do not believe that hunting must be bad for ecosystems but just the same I do not believe that it´s good for conservation anywhere and anytime.

 

Over the years I have come to accept that the hunting=helping conversation notion might be true in some areas simply unsuitable for phototourism and although I will never be able to grasp the joy one apparently gets by pulling the trigger I do not condemn hunting per se. As a matter of fact I would have few people I could talk to here in Austria, a lot of my friends do hunt, it´s something totally socially acceptable here. And I should not be a hypocrite, I´ve often enjoyed a good venison steak, and even joined friends on a hunt for roe deer. After all hunters and us enjoy a lot of the same things, being out there in nature, sitting, watching, the thrill of "getting" an animal - camera for us and gun for them.

 

And I do feel that hunting Buffalo or Kudu around Hwange does not harm the ecosystem, and yes, I can believe that the hunting blocks there can ultimately be a good thing. That said, I just cannot believe, for all the reasons inyathi so expertly pointed out, that killing a lion in his prime like this one, could be contributing to sustainable wildlife conservation. So I absolutely agree that this death is "bad".

 

But as much as I dislike the death of this lion (and it really does not matter if this is the son of Cecil or not, just that it is a lion in his prime) what scares me much more is reading the reactions on Facebook (not here) where many people go as far as wishing this hunter (who seems to have done everything by the book) a long and painful death and worse things. Of course I get why people are upset about this but this hatred is incomprehensible to me.

Edited by michael-ibk
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Posted (edited)

Very interesting and well thought out post @inyathi (as always). Thank you.  

 

I have to agree that perhaps the bar of 6 years or over is set a bit too low. I am not at all convinced the hunting a pride male i.e one that has cubs is right. If this is his FIRST group of cubs they are now unlikely to survive. If the moved the age group a couple of years up to say 8 etc then the lion would have made his contribution the gene pool and, in many cases, likely to have been displaced by younger, stronger lions. 

 

 

Edited by wilddog
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@inyathi - Is there a buffer zone between the park boundary and the hunting blocks?  If so, what is it?  

 

I'm amazed that Cecil lived to be 13 ...... Should be close to a record for a Prime Male Lion defying the odds of competition ...

 

Whilst we know Cecil and Xanda are the Star Lions ... do we know of other Prime Male Lions killed in the interim in Hwange between 2015 and now?  

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Hari, I think that he hunting blocks are the buffer zone between the national park and agricultural settlement/land use. Without the hunting blocks there would be mass encroachment of settlement right up to the park boundary- which would likely result in much more human wildlife conflict and much more illegal lion killing.

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Let's not forget that there is only about 2500-3000 adult male lions, more than 6 years left in the wild, according to Scientists. And still we need to - as hunters say - harvest some of them. There is still millions of plains game to hunt, which makes difference to me. Although I am aware that hunters say no lion/elephant no hunting in really wild places. South Africa is a different matter. They have a lot of hunting farms to "amuse" the average hunter, who doesn't have the money to go on "real" hunting. 

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@ pomwiki:

 

Thank you for formalising the link to the article to which I referred. (Perhaps someone would explain how I can produce proper links - I am largely bereft of computer skills.)

 

You appear to differentiate between culling and trophy hunting and are correct to do so.  You suggest that the article is an opinion piece, lacking hard evidence, but don't necessarily rule out the need for culling. The article, as I understood it, was a synthesis of the views of a WildCRU researcher who works in Bubye Valley Conservancy. I am satisfied, if my understanding is correct, that the hard evidence does, in fact, exist and could, if deemed necessary, be obtained directly from the researcher in question.

 

You go on to suggest that trophy hunting may do more damage to lion populations than culling by selecting against the best specimens in the gene pool.  However, when carried out responsibly in a lawful manner, the opposite may, in fact, be the case.  By taking out a small proportion of older male lions, one will be reducing the degree of father/daughter matings.  The quality (magnificence) of the trophy will be as much or more influenced by age and plane of nutrition as by innate (genetic) factors.  @inyathi has added to the debate and speculated that the minimum culling age of 6 years may not be appropriate in Zimbabwe because it was derived from Tanzanian-based studies.  The benefits of trophy hunting have nothing to do with population control and everything to do with the money it provides for conservation managers.

 

@ ZaminOz , in answering a query from @ madaboutcheetah, suggested that hunting blocks were the buffer zone.  It is my understanding that he is absolutely correct.  However, @madaboutcheetah responded by posting a fund-raising article by WildCRU which appeared to be seeking to exploit "Xandu's" death.  Among other things, WildCRU was advocating a rind of non-hunting buffer zone around the Park. To all intents and purposes, this amounts to a substantial increase in effective Park area without indicating a means of funding its management.  Given that funding is already inadequate for Hwange, one must suppose that WildCRU is visiting the realm of the cloud cuckoo.

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@ Game Warden:

 

If the statement from the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association is correct, it shows up the statement from WildCRU, quoted by@ madaboutcheetah, in a very poor light.  It seems that the latter's fund raising department is attempting to place as bad a construction on the story as possible for financial gain.

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Why is it written in poor light?  All they mention is, the need for a 5Km buffer zone ..........


And oh! that Xanda was the Pride male of 3 females and several cubs .......  Which  the hunters deny in their Facebook comment.  

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@madaboutcheetah:

 

I'm astonished that you asked that question.  The WildCRU press release relating to "Xanda" was clearly attempting to exploit the event for financial gain and, from my perspective, detracts from some useful research that its field researchers undertake.  Obviously, the latter require funding, but to attempt to raise it by whipping up hysteria among protectionists in order to part them from their money has the downside of making the organisation appear to be far from impartial.  Their statement starts to go off the rails with the first mention of David MacDonald and "Cecil" Movements and Summits.  WildCRU's primary purpose is, I believe, to resolve human/wildlife conflict.  I do not believe that the emotional statements in the press release do anything other than to detract from this brief.

 

It would be far more useful to discuss the facts rather than the motivation.  It is, of course, interesting to determine whether the lion in question was, in fact, an active or ousted pride male as this would allow an assessment of which side had been lying and had thus lost credibility.  However, it could be that neither was and that muddled communications fitted more with a "cock up" than a "conspiracy" explanation.  At the end of the day, none of this has a lot to do with sensible management of lions in and around National Parks. In a previous post on this thread I referred to Bubye Valley Conservancy, which has too many lions.  If there is plenty of food and water in a protected area, one will always tend to have too many lions with or without "trophy hunting".  In Hwange, there probably isn't plenty of lion food because elephants, a generally unsuitable prey species, dominate the biomass to the detriment of the habitat and all other mammalian prey species and consequently of predators themselves. 

 

It is also worth considering WildCRU's call for a 5 km non-hunting buffer around the Park's periphery.  Implicit in this demand is a total disdain for real world economics and the interests of the local population.  Presumably, the extra land demanded would have no potential to generate money other than, possibly, from ecotourists.  To all intents and purposes, therefore, WildCRU is demanding an extension of the National Park .  The Park is already 14000 sq km in area and severely underfunded.  If it were totally circular in circumference, a 5 km extension round the edge would expand the Park size by 15%.  As it is not circular, the effective size would increase more. One can imagine WildCRU demanding an ever expanding protection zone until such time as the buffer zone bumps into human-exploited areas, but it is probably much more likely that the local human population would, with some justification, move into the otherwise unexploited buffer zone.                 

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