The New York Times ran an editorial Sunday arguing that the only thing that can save the African lion is legalized hunting.
In the piece, director of wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr. Alexander N. Songorwa explains that American sport hunters constitute 60 percent of that country’s trophy hunting market and that money from this group finances Tanzania’s game reserves and wildlife management areas. Yes, Dr. Songorwa points out that some of the money for these operations comes from tourists but “[hunters] pay thousands of dollars to pursue lions with rifles and take home trophies from what is often a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Those hunters spend 10 to 25 times more than regular tourists and travel to (and spend money in) remote areas rarely visited by photographic tourists.”
The editorial continues by breaking down how that money impacts the country.
“In Tanzania, lions are hunted under a 21-day safari package. Hunters pay $9,800 in government fees for the opportunity. An average of about 200 lions are shot a year, generating about $1,960,000 in revenue. Money is also spent on camp fees, wages, local goods and transportation. And hunters almost always come to hunt more than one species, though the lion is often the most coveted trophy sought. All told, trophy hunting generated roughly $75 million for Tanzania’s economy from 2008 to 2011.”
If the United States Fish and Wildlife lists the African lion as endangered, as many are proposing, the decision would be “would be disastrous to [Tanzania’s] conservation efforts.”
Lion hunting, of course, is heavily regulated in Tanzania. Females and lions under 6 years of age may not be hunted.
If the USFWS lists the African lion as endangered, no one from the US will be hunting them.