What Exactly does Lion Hunting Contribute to Lion Conservation?

By Richard Cheatham – President DSC Foundation

Hunters, and particularly international big game hunters, are frequently asked to explain the benefits of regulated hunting, especially in the context of threatened or endangered species. To be fair, the hunting community has been largely ineffective in gathering and disseminating data to support what we all know to be true. The focus on the hunting of the African lion has intensified given the species’ up listing to Appendix II of CITES and the announcement of the concept of enhancement requirements that must be satisfied before any lion trophy can be legally imported into the United States.

That is changing in Tanzania thanks to the efforts of 27 hunting operators who have organized data from their own operations. John Jackson of Conservation Force has prepared a summary on a sample of the reports from the 27 Tanzanian outfitters. In a recent press release dated October 25, John states that:

“The reports reveal the following sample of contributions in the 2013-2015 period.  These contributions had not been considered by the FWS, but they are crucial to conservation of the lion in its largest remaining stronghold:

Over $6.7 million in anti-poaching and road opening expenditures

Over $3.1 million in community investment and participation

The arrest of at least 1,409 poachers and the collection of over 6,000 snares and gin traps

Over $250,000 in healthcare improvements, including construction of numerous clinics, installation of solar lighting and heating for a village maternity ward, treatment of 1,575 eye ailments, and donations of hundreds of wheelchairs

Over $337,000 contributed to education projects, including over $60,000 for school fees, over $50,000 for school libraries and laboratories, and construction of two dozen classrooms

Over 1,200 jobs created, and another 250+ seasonal jobs

Extensive contributions of harvested game meat to dis-incentivize poaching and provide a sustainable protein source for rural communities”

John goes on to state: 

“The reports also describe extensive habitat protection efforts including the drilling of boreholes and building of dams, operations against cattle encroachment, and patrols against timber poaching.  Hunting areas in Tanzania are five times larger than the country’s national parks, and most lion live outside the parks in those areas.  These habitat efforts alone demonstrate that, without hunting, the lion and its prey base would be far worse off in Tanzania.”

The statements in the reports prepared and published by the 27 hunting operators are supported by more than 2700 pages of documentation. Conservation Force has submitted those reports and supporting documentation to the USFWS in connection with requests for the issuance of importation permits for lions hunted in Tanzania.

DSC Foundation appreciates the efforts of the 27 hunting operators who prepared the Outfitter Enhancement Reports and believes that we have taken a big step to be able to answer the question posed at the beginning of this post.

DSC Foundation and Dallas Safari Club are proud to support the work of Conservation Force and John Jackson. A copy of the Conservation Force press release can be found here.

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