Friday, September 08, 2017

Gujarat government allows 50 devotees to stay overnight at Gir temple

07/09/2017

Gujarat government allows 50 devotees to stay overnight at Gir temple

THE TIMES OF INDIA

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/gujarat-government-allows-50-devotees-to-stay-overnight-at-gir-temple/articleshow/60401149.cms

 

AHMEDABAD: Through a notification, the state government has allowed 50 devotees to stay overnight at the Kankai Mataji templewithin the Gir sanctuary , the only abode in the world of the Asiatic Lion. The decision has raised the hackles of wildlife activists and even the members of the State Board for Wildlife, who say that the move will be detrimental to conservation of lions.

 

In 1998-99, a similar attempt was made to permit tourists to stay overnight at the temple. However, the permission was cancelled following the intervention of the standing committee on science and technology , environment and forests of the Rajya Sabha. Principal chief conservator of forests G K Sinha said: "The government had on Tuesday issued a notification making corrections in the earlier government resolution. The earlier GR had stated that the trustees of the temple and devotees should be permitted to stay within the sanctuary." Sinha said that the government on Tuesday defined `devotees'. "Accor ding to Tuesday's GR, devotees would be those whose family deity is Kankai Mata or those who want to perform a pooja -they can stay over," Sinha said. "Ho wever, the number of such devotees should not exceed 50."

 


A senior officer of the forest department said that till now, apart from the trustees, no one -not even their family members -had been allowed to stay . In the absence of clarity about who constitutes `devotees', the deputy conservator of forests denied permissions. The officer said now that the government has allowed 50 devotees to stay , officials would be forced to issue permissions. He said that in the new circumstances, anyone can get a letter from trustees under the pretext of performing a pooja and stay overnight at the temple. He said that poachers or unwanted elements could also possibly infiltrate into the sanctuary . He sa id that since there was no regular pooja in the night, there was no need for people to stay over.

 

Contradicting forest officials, fo rest minister Gan pat Vasava said: "Over 300 devote es used to stay overnight. The government, in order to conserve the lions, has reduced the number." Bhushan Pandya, a member of the State Board for Wildlife, said: "The real pilgrim is ignored and tourism takes the front seat. In 1998, in similar circumstances, the government had to withdraw." The decision of the government to allow the night stay will be bad for conservation as any person can stay as a tourist in the forest area, Pandya said.

 

Priyvrat Gadhvi, another member of the board, said: "This will have a directly detrimental effect on the surrounding forest and will set a bad precedent."

 


Gadhvi said limiting people to a particular number would be practically impossible. "The overall cascading impact on conservation of lions would be adverse," he said. "I will definitely raise the issue in the next board meeting." Wildlife activists have begun an online campaign to force the government to reverse its decision.

 


Devotees can use either gate now

 

The forest department, which had so far made it mandatory for devotees visiting the Kankai temple to exit from the same gate, has relaxed this norm and they can now leave from either gate. Ganpat Vasava, the forest minister, said the department has stated that there are two gates in use, one is 17km from the temple and the other is 13km away. The department clarified that devotees will have to leave from either gate. Experts feel that with the option to use either gate, devotees will in effect travel through the entire sanctuary area.


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Hello



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Monday, September 04, 2017

Attend a lecture on the crisis of Asiatic lion at NCPA this evening

30/08/2017

Attend a lecture on the crisis of Asiatic lion at NCPA this evening

Mid-day

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/lifestyle-mumbai-events-lecture-documentary-screening-asiatic-lion-ncpa-culture/18541196

 

When it comes to the narrative of saving the big cats, the focus has remained largely on tigers, and justifiably so, given their dwindling numbers. But on the IUCN Red List, both, the Royal Bengal tiger and Asiatic lion feature in the endangered category. While there are 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the world, the number for the latter, according to a latest report, is about 650.

 

The animal, which has been a symbol of strength since the time Emperor Ashoka built his Lion Capital in Sarnath, now stands on the verge of extinction. What brought this subspecies to this stage? The fourth Vimal Shah Memorial Lecture, organised by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in collaboration with The Museum Society of Mumbai, explores such critical questions. Titled Asia's Lions in the Past and the Present, the talk by Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda will highlight the reasons for their dwindling numbers, the current status and future.


 

Author of the book, The Story of Asia's Lions, Dr Chavda, apart from holding other distinctions, is former president of World Wide Fund for Nature India and member of the National Board for Wildlife.

Read on for a few interesting facts:

> Asiatic lions roamed from Palestine in the West to Palamau in India in the East. Today, they have been exterminated from almost the entire continent, and can be found only in the Saurashtra peninsula.


 

> According to estimates, at the beginning of the 20th century, the lion population had come down to about 100, due to royal hunting expeditions common in those days.

 

> Conservation efforts began during the time of the British (but it depended on the predisposition of the official in charge), and strengthened after India achieved freedom.

 

> In 1963, five commemorative stamps featuring the Asiatic lion, gaur (Indian bison), Himalayan panda, Bengal tiger and Indian elephant were released under the Wildlife Preservation series.

 

> The population has increased — it was 523 in 2015 and is over 650 today. This increase in number — with no corresponding increase in the size of the habitat — means that more than half the lions are roaming in spaces that are far away from the Gir forest.

 

> This increases the possibility of lion-human encounters, which puts the animal at further risk.

 

> Scope needs to be expanded to protecting the corridors. Simultaneously, areas beyond Gir, where the lions have settled in significant numbers must be turned into safe havens.

On Today, 6 pm
At Auditorium, Visitors Centre, CSMVS, Fort.
Call 22844484


 

Watch Bastion of the Giants, a 2015 documentary by Sumesh Lekhi that takes you into the dense forests of West Bengal and tall grasses of Assam to discover the lives of the Asian elephant. The film also highlights the need to conserve the pachyderm in the time of increasing man-animal conflict and climate change. The screening is in collaboration with Indian Documentary Producers' Association.
On Today, 6.30 pm
At Little Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call 66223737

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Cat fights

01/09/2017

Cat fights

The Indian EXPRESS

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/cat-fights-madhya-pradesh-lions-kuno-palpur-national-park-4823018/

 

Madhya Pradesh has waited for nearly two decades for lions to roar at the Kuno-Palpur National Park. In the 1990s, wildlife experts felt that confining the Asiatic Lion to the Gir National Park in Gujarat was not a good idea. The Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, carried out surveys to find a second home for the beast and recommended shifting some of the felines to Kuno. But the Gujarat government has termed the big cat as the "pride" of the state, and refused to share them with MP. An exasperated MP government has now decided to breed lion cubs in zoos and shift them to Kuno.

 

Till the late 19th century, the Asiatic lion roamed large parts of North India, as far east as what is today Bihar, with the Narmada river marking the southern limit of its range. But indiscriminate hunting and large-scale conversion of forests into farms and human-settlements proved to be the animal's doom. By the early 20th century, the deciduous forests of Gir were the Asiatic lion's only home. In 1913, the chief forest officer of Junagadh reported that there were only 20 of the majestic animals left in Gir. Since then, conservation efforts have not only saved the animal from extinction but resulted in a significant increase in their population. At the last census in 2015, the lions in Gir numbered 523.

 

Wildlife experts, however, believe that a disease outbreak or a natural disaster like a forest fire in the animal's only home could undo the conservation achievements of the past 100 years. However, Gujarat does not want to part with its lions. Conservation has taken a further backseat with the MP government's proposal to the Centre to allow Kuno to source cubs from zoos. The lion cubs will have to compete with other predators hardened with the ways of the forest. It is anybody's guess how they will fare.

 

As Gujarat herds its big cats, MP looks for zoo lions The Indian EXPRESS

30/08/2017

As Gujarat herds its big cats, MP looks for zoo lions

The Indian EXPRESS

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/as-gujarat-herds-its-big-cats-mp-looks-for-zoo-lions-4820023/

Gujarat's refusal to part with its Gir lions despite court orders has forced Madhya Pradesh to propose an alternative: source cubs and lions from zoos across the country for translocation to Kuno Palpur in Sheopur district. For more than two decades, the Gujarat government has scuttled the translocation conceived in the 1990s by the Central government, at the instance of the Wildlife Institute of India, to create a second home for Asiatic lions outside Gir.

 

In 2014, the Supreme Court threw out a curative petition by the Gujarat government, the last legal recourse available before it to stall the translocation, but the state has managed to avoid shifting, citing absence of one study or the other. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh too hasn't shown much keenness in pushing for execution of the project.

 

Calling the new idea 'Plan B', Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden Jitendra Agrawal told The Indian Express that a proposal has been sent to the Centre to allow the state to source cubs and lions from zoos. "It's a long-drawn process that will begin only after the Centre and experts give the go-ahead after recommending some studies," he said.

 

In May, Agrawal wrote to the state government, saying, "Despite an order from the Supreme Court and six meetings of the expert committee set up for the purpose, the chances of translocation of Asiatic lions are very dim in the near future."

 

He further wrote that cubs born in Indore zoo could be shifted to Kuno Palpur and kept in an enclosure with the permission of the Central Zoo Authority. This can be followed by sourcing cubs and lions from other zoos and a family could be established in Kuno Palpur, he added.


In the communication to the Centre, Madhya Pradesh cited its experience in releasing orphaned hand-reared tiger cubs in the wild, to bolster its case for shifting lions. In the past, Madhya Pradesh has shifted orphaned tiger cubs to other parks and trained them to hunt by developing their wild instincts gradually. "In the 1990s, we did not have such expertise, which we now have," Agrawal said.

 

But experts and activists are not sure of the Madhya Pradesh plan, and point out that it defeats the very purpose of the project, which was to ensure longevity of the Gir lions. "It's difficult to relocate zoo-bred lions in the wild. I don't think there is any precedent. It's in the best interest of Asiatic lions to have an alternative population outside Gir," noted wildlife conservationist Belinda Wright pointed out.

 

She also said that relocation of tiger cubs and zoo-bred lion cubs couldn't be compared. "They were born to mothers in the wild and reared in virtual isolation. Their genes were pure, unlike those of zoo-bred animals."

 

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey slammed the MP government for "surrendering" before Gujarat and showing no political will to even get a judicial order executed. "Gujarat has no legal option left and yet it's delaying translocation. Even lions in Gir are vulnerable due to in-breeding. Getting zoo lions will defeat the very purpose of the project," he said. He also pointed out that hundreds of crores have been spent on creating infrastructure at Kuno Palpur, in relocating villagers outside the reserve, and in research and vaccination.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

MP says no to lions from Gujarat

24/08/2017

MP says no to lions from Gujarat

THE TIMES OF INDIA

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/mp-says-no-to-lions-from-gujarat/articleshow/60199409.cms

AHMEDABAD/BHOPAL: With Gujarat showing no signs of parting with its lions in the wild to be translocated to Kuno Palpur despite a 2014 Supreme Court order, the Madhya Pradesh government has made a move to source lions from zoos across India for the newly prepped sanctuary spread over 344 sq km.
 



Ironically, the neighbouring state has underscored it does not want lions from Gujarat zoos.


In a proposal to the Centre, the MP forest department has sought lions from various zoos across the country barring Gujarat. The proposal cites that the MP forest department wants Asiatic lions from various zoos in order to create a separate gene pool of lions which is distinct from Gujarat lions.


Jitendra Agarwal, chief wildlife warden of MP, told TOI, "When the translocation project was conceived, the plan A was to introduce lions from the wild of Sasan Gir in Gujarat to Kuno Palpur while plan B was to introduce lions from the zoos.
 



With plan A not really working out, we have requested the Union government to put plan B in motion. The government has informed us that a meeting of the expert group on translocation would be soon held to decide on the matter".

 

Top officials in MP told TOI the Centre was specifically requested not to consider lions from any zoo in Gujarat. "Given Gujarat's reluctance to part with its lions, there is a possibility that the state government may not approve the relocation of lions from zoo as well," the official said.


Forest officials conceded that while the expert committee on lion translocation termed Kuno Palpur as "best suited" sanctuary due to adequate flora-fauna and prey base, Gujarat has been dragging its feet to part with its wildlife.

 


"Only seven meetings for translocation were held in four years, the action plan for reintroduction of lions in Kuno Palpur is yet to approved and Gujarat continues to raise objections and demand a series of more studies. This forced us to consider to bring zoobred lions."

 

Forest officials in Gujarat when contacted said they are not aware of any such proposal by MP.

 


Gir in Gujarat is the last abode of Asiatic lion with 523 lions as per 2015 census. The idea behind the 
Kuno-Palpur project was to raise a buffer population of wild lions as an insurance against epidemics or natural disasters wiping out the Gir lions. To substantiate their claims of releasing zoo big cats in wild, MP has stated that they have the experience to reintroducing orphaned tiger cubs in the wild after raising them and making them expert hunters.

The Unexpected Result When a Cow Faces Down a Pride of Rare Asiatic Lions

22/08/2017

The Unexpected Result When a Cow Faces Down a Pride of Rare Asiatic Lions

Atlas Obscura

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/asiatic-lions-cow-gujarat-conservation

A CREATURE SO FEARLESS IT sends lions running for their lives: the cow. On a quiet Tuesday evening, a pride of rare Asiatic lions strolled through the village of Rampar, in the Indian state of Gujarat. They were likely looking for cattle to munch on, NDTV reported, but seem to have bitten off more than they could chew.

 

In CCTV footage, the lions prowl carefully around the lane, until a lone cow wanders meditatively into the frame. The lions take a single look at the approaching bovine, it seems, and scram! Rampar is 10 miles from the Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, home to the world's last remaining population of Asiatic lions. The big cats are an occasional sight in Rampar and other local villages, where they've been known to attack humans and cows.

 

In Gir's 545 square miles, there are 650 Asiatic lions, according to a census taken this month. Though populations are increasing—in 2015, there were 523—the predator, which once prowled from central India all the way to the Middle East, is still extremely rare. They are slightly smaller than their African cousins, with more of a ruff than a mane, and a more tufted tail tassel. But the differences may run deeper than that: Attempts to crossbreed the subspecies in zoos the 1980s were unsuccessful, with many of the resulting offspring sickly and susceptible to disease.

 

As a total population, 650 lions is vanishingly small, but for Gir, it's proving rather a lot. As the park has succeeded in boosting their numbers, humans living on the fringes of it are coming into contact with the lions more and more. Some think relocation of some of the big cats might be the answer. Since 2004, Gujarat and neighboring state Madhya Pradesh have been fighting a bitter battle over the idea. The Palpur-Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh has been approved as a potential new home for about 40 lions to ease overcrowding and inbreeding, but Gujarat has been fighting the relocation. The state government has said that it will only permit the relocation if they receive 33 studies, as mandated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, that all agree that Palpur-Kuno is a suitable new home.

 

This is as much a political and economic issue as a conservation one, however. Many Gujarati people think of the lions as a key part of their heritage (and tourism economy). Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is from the state, referred to them as the unshareable "pride of Gujarat." But the relocation project seems to be inching forward. The cows of Madhya Pradesh had better ready themselves.


Monday, August 21, 2017

BRBNML renews adoption at Mysuru zoo

19/08/2017

BRBNML renews adoption at Mysuru zoo

THE HINDU

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/brbnml-renews-adoption-at-mysuru-zoo/article19522194.ece

 

Bharatiya Reserve Bank Note Mudran (P) Ltd. (BRBNML), Mysuru, has renewed its adoption of an Asiatic lion, a tiger and two giraffes under animal adoption scheme for a period of one year.

Under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme, the BRBNML adopted the animals for a period from July 9, 2017 to July 8, 2018 by paying Rs. 4 lakh as the adoption fee.

The company has also adopted an African cheetah and a zebra for the period of one year paying Rs. 1 lakh.

The total amount received under animal adoption scheme from April 1, 2017 to till this date is Rs. 21,11,501 for 161 animals.

H.S. Thakur Desai, General Manager, Puja Thakur Desai, K. Narayanan, Deputy General Manager, and H.L. Puttalinga, Assistant Manager, visited the Mysuru zoo on Friday.

They completed the adoption formalities and received the adoption certificate.

Two Asiatic lioness found dead in Amreli were ‘poisoned’, two maldharis booked

18/08/2017

Two Asiatic lioness found dead in Amreli were 'poisoned', two maldharis booked

The IndianExpress

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/two-asiatic-lioness-found-dead-in-amreli-were-poisoned-two-maldharis-booked/

 

Two Maldharis (herdsmen) were arrested by forest department late on Thursday for allegedly poisoning two sub-adult lionesses in Lakhapadar village of Amreli district. A local court in Dhari sent the accused to judicial custody on Friday after the forest department did not seek their remand. Carcass of a sub-adult lioness was recovered from government wasteland in Lakhapadar village of Dhari taluka of Amreli on Wednesday afternoon. Less than 24 hours later, carcass of another sub-adult lioness was recovered from the same area on Thursday. Forest officers said the sub-adult lionesses were around 2.5 year old and were sisters.

 

Forest officers said four hours after recovery of the second carcass, two maldharis were arrested. They have been identified as Sangram Gamara (30) and Manga Sadhu (40), both residents of Nagadhra village adjoining Lakhapadar. "The accused are rearing goats. After a pride consisting of a lioness and her two cubs preyed on two of their goats, the accused poured pesticide on their carcasses. But the lion pride ate their kill even after it was poisoned, leading to their deaths," chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh wildlife circle, Anirudhh Pratap Singh told The Indian Express on Friday.

 

Lakhapadar falls in Sarasiya range of Gir (east) forest division under Junagadh wildlife circle. Singh said that the carcasses were found from government wasteland between Lakhapadar and Nagadhra villages.

 

"While we are awaiting laboratory tests ascertaining the exact cause of deaths of the two lionesses, prima facie, they died due to poisoning. We have also recovered the bottle of pesticide used in the crime. We fear the mother lioness could also have been affected by the poison. Our staff is searching for her," Singh further said.

 

Asiatic lions are an endangered species and Gir forest and other protected areas spread across Junagadh, Amreli, Gir Somnath and Bhavnagar districts in Saurashtra region of Gujarat are their only natural home in the world. Asiatic lions have been included in Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act and their hunting can attract seven years imprisonment.

 

The accused were produced in a local court in Dhari on Friday. After the forest department did not seek their remand, the duo were sent to judicial custody.


"The accused have confessed to have poured pesticide on the two goats hunted by lions. They are claiming that they poisoned the lions as the big cats had killed their 36 goats in recent months. Since they confessed their crime, we did not seek their remand. Therefore, the court sent them to judicial custody," the CCF further added.

 Asiatic lion, Amreli Asiatic lion death, Amreli asiatic lions, Amreli lions, Asiatic lion deaths,

Gir lions may soon roam around Aravallis

13/08/2017

Gir lions may soon roam around Aravallis

MillenniumPost

http://www.millenniumpost.in/delhi/gir-lions-may-soon-roam-around-aravallis-257506

 

Gurugram: If all goes according to the plan, soon the residents of Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) may not have to go to Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh to view Gir lions.

 

The Haryana government is mulling over the possibility of setting up the lion safari park on the lines of one created in Etawah in Uttar Pradesh in the Aravallis of southern Haryana regions.

 

The state government has begun discussions with the Gujarat government and have begun the preparation to create the ecosystem wherein the Gir lions can thrive in the ecosystem of a new geography.

Gir lions may soon roam around Aravallis

Friday, August 18, 2017

Record 1 million pledge to save Gujarat’s pride

11/08/2017

Record 1 million pledge to save Gujarat's pride

THE TIMES OF INDIA

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/record-1-million-pledge-to-save-gujarats-pride/articleshow/60011111.cms

 

Rajkot: In one of the biggest widllife conservation awarness programme, nearly 10 lakh people, mostly school children, marched through their respective villages in four districts of Saurashtra on Thursday and took a pledge to work for conservation of Asiatic lions till their last breath.

 

On the occasion of World Lions Day, students of nearly 5,000 schools in Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Gir-Somnath districts, not only took the conservation pledge but also spread awareness about the importance of lions and Gir. The event made its way into the Asia Book of Records and the forest department has also approached the Guinness Book of World Records for most number of people taking a pledge for saving lions simultenously at multiple locations.

 

"In the run-up to World Lion Day, we had started a campaign to bring maximum people together and take a pledge for lion conservation. No where has a programme of this magnitude organized for conservation of a particular wildlife specie," said Ram Ratan Nala, deputy conservator of forest, Sasan. The school children and others sporting specially made lion masks organized the rallies and then participated in the awarness discussions held in their respective schools.

 

"Around 5,000 schools in 2,500 village of four districts had registered for this programme. Besides, special masks, we had also prepared literature like pamphlets and booklets on importance of Gir and lion conservation. One student in each school also read out a 10-minute speech that we had prepared and it was heard by all other students and teachers," said Nala. A 10-minute movie on Asatic lions was also screened in each and every school that was followed by discussion by teachers and students.



WORLD LION DAY: LAKHS MARCH THROUGH VILLAGES TO CREATE AWARENESS ABOUT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN GUJARAT

10/08/2017

WORLD LION DAY: LAKHS MARCH THROUGH VILLAGES TO CREATE AWARENESS ABOUT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN GUJARAT

AhmedabadMirror

http://ahmedabadmirror.indiatimes.com/ahmedabad/others/world-lion-day-lakhs-march-through-villages-to-create-awareness-about-wildlife-conservation-in-gujarat/articleshow/60010077.cms

 

Rajkot: Lakhs of citizens from Gujarat came together to take a pledge to save wildlife. In a bid to create awareness for safety and conservation of Asiatic lions, which are hailed as the state's pride, more than 10 lakh people marched through their respective villages in four districts of Saurashtra on Thursday.

On the occasion of World Lion Day, the citizens took a pledge to work for conservation of Asiatic lions till their last breath 

Students of nearly 5,000 schools in Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Gir-Somnath districts partook in the noble cause. The young children not only took the conservation pledge but also spread awareness about the importance of lions and Gir forest.

 

The event made its way into the Asia Book of Records and the forest department has also approached the Guinness Book of World Records for most number of people taking a pledge for saving lions simultaneously at various locations.

According to a report in Times Of India, the Asiatic lion census in 2015 said there are 523 lions in Gujarat of which over 168 lions have moved out into unprotected parts of the Amreli, Bhavnagar, Gir-Somnath, Rajkot and Junagadh districts.

The lion population outside the protected area of Gir Sanctuary has increased by around 400%, the International Union of Conservation of Nature said in a report in August last year. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

CECIL’S SON XANDA TAKEN BY THE SAME RUTHLESS TRADE: TROPHY HUNTING

01/07/2017

CECIL'S SON XANDA TAKEN BY THE SAME RUTHLESS TRADE: TROPHY HUNTING

GOOD FOR ALL NEWS

http://news.janegoodall.org/2017/07/01/remembering-cecil-hope-world-without-trophy-hunting/

 

Animal lovers around the world fall silent once again as we see a tragic event repeat itself. Xanda, the son of the famous Zimbabwean lion Cecil, has reportedly met the same horrific fate – killed by trophy hunters. This news comes just a few weeks after we commemorated the second anniversary of Cecil the Lion's tragic death. Cecil, a research lion living in protected lands, was shot and killed by a U.S. dentist. Xanda has been living in the same region of Hwange National Park, and was six years old, the age at which lions in Tanzania become legal to poach.  Dr. Jane Goodall spoke out about the event and the heinous tradition of trophy hunting writing,

 

How can anyone with an ounce of compassion be proud of killing these magnificent creatures? Lions, leopards, sable antelopes, giraffes and all the other sport or trophy animals are beautiful – but only in life.

 

So what is trophy hunting?

Trophy hunting is the hunting of wild game for "sport" where individuals seek out "prizes" of animal body parts. Africa's "big five" (a term coined by big game hunters to describe the five most difficult animals to hunt on foot) are the most frequently targeted: lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and buffalo. Four of these species are already on the endangered species listThis sad "sport" is even encouraged by monetary prizes from pro-hunting organizations.

 

Perhaps the most egregious form of trophy hunting is "canned hunting." The lions are raised in captivity to be docile, and upon maturity are sold into hunting facilities to be shot in fenced enclosures (more about this horrible practice was revealed in the film Blood Lions). Around 6,000 lions are currently being held in South Africa for the purpose of canned hunting.

A picture of the trophies displayed at one of the annual SCI conventions.


 

Is it legal?

Unfortunately, yes. Read more here about CITES regulations and about placing Lions under Appendix I (currently under Appendix II) to secure the most protection. If lions reach this level of protection, hunting operations would be forced to demonstrate "a certain level of sustainability by setting science-based quotas, establishing non-detriment findings, and requiring import and export permits for all trophies."

What is the argument used in favor of trophy hunting?

Those in favor of trophy hunting advocate for its use as a conservation strategy. They maintain that the excessive amount of money spent on these hunts is put back into local villages' conservation efforts and eliminates "weak animals" from the population.
However…

Trophy hunting does not aid the community or conservation
Reports indicate that trophy hunting accounts for less than 2% of South African tourism revenues. In other words, non-invasive tourism such as photography actually generates far more of a profit.  Studies in Tanzania showed that "few benefits filtered to the communities…about 3-5% of hunting revenues actually reached the villages." The IUCN gave a figure as low as US $0.30 per year to the each village inhabitant, indicating that using the land for sustainable agriculture would be much more profitable.

Blood lions

 

Trophy hunting does not better the species
In the case of the "Big Five," these animals are near extinction – eliminating any individual is threatening the viability of populations. Cecil was actually part of an Oxford study on hunting, in progress at the time of his death. The study found that of the 62 lions tagged, 24 were killed by sport hunters and 10 died of other causes.

 

Where does the United States fit into this conversation?

According to the IFAW, the U.S. is the leading importer of lion trophies. The blame for poaching is often placed on China for its booming market for animal parts, or on Africa for relaxed hunting policies. But the real problem lies in the demand from the hunters. The US averages 126,000 animal trophy imports a year, or 345 a day, according to the Humane Society International. This is where the import policies become so essential, such as airlines refusing to transport the trophies!

Below is a timeline showing both the forwards and backwards motion being taken in the name of trophy hunting:

Cecil graphic-draft

How can you make a difference?

The death of Cecil is said to have changed the way that the public interacts with conservation due to the massive support that the Oxford scientists received after the event. Now, as we reflect on the death of his son, we must rally to change this situation for the better. Tragedies like the death of Cecil, and now Xanda, outline the many conservation challenges we face together. Xanda was shot just one mile outside of the protected park, as Xanda's pride would move in and out of this area. Now, scientists are calling for a no-hunting zone 3 miles around the park to better protect these animals. It is this kind of thinking that will enable us to better protect animals outside of the traditional "park" only model, along with education, and stricter regulations. Cecil's death spurred the U.N. to adopt it's first resolution to combat illegal trafficking, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife listed lions as endangered in 2016, making it more difficult for trophies to be imported. Still, there are fewer than 30,000 lions in the wild, and we must each do something to protect them from extinction.

Here's what you can do:

– Find out the latest CITES regulations on trophy hunting in various countries.

– Use your voice and platform. No matter how far away your location or contacts may seem from the issue, every action to defend animals helps. If airlines hadn't used their platform to regulate the transport of trophies, we wouldn't have the strict import rules in place today. Consider using social media, as it is Jane's 5th Reason for Hope, and was part of the outcry that supported Oxford scientists after Cecil's death. Share this story on Twitter by clicking here.

– Write to your U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to protect endangered species by creating more strict import laws in the ESA.

Sean Herbert/AP

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