March 20, 2013
Are American Hunters the Saving Grace of African Lions?
By Chad Love
There was an interesting op/ed in The New York Times about how American hunters, and the dollars they bring with them, play an important role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. But the potential addition of the African lion to the endangered species list could put a big dent in the country's economy.
From this story in The New York Times:
Odd as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. The millions of dollars that hunters spend to go on safari here each year help finance the game reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation efforts in our rapidly growing country. This is why we are alarmed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the African lion as endangered. Doing so would make it illegal for American hunters to bring their trophies home. Those hunters constitute 60 percent of our trophy-hunting market, and losing them would be disastrous to our conservation efforts.
According to the story, written by the Director of Wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the country has 16,800 lions, the largest lion population in the world, which constitutes about 40 percent of the entire African lion population. Of those lions, about 200 are taken each year by hunters, who spend, on average, 10 to 25 times more than regular tourists. Lion hunting generates about $1.96 million in revenue each year. If the US Fish & Wildlife Service lists the lion as endangered, the piece argues, American hunters will choose to hunt other species elsewhere, which of course will dry up that revenue and further inhibit lion conservation efforts.
From the story:
As Tanzania’s highest-ranking wildlife official, I ask on behalf of my country and all of our wildlife: do not list the African lion as endangered. Instead, help us make the most from the revenues we generate. Help us make trophy hunting more sustainable and more valuable. In short, please work with us to conserve wildlife, rather than against us, which only diminishes our capacity to protect Tanzania’s global treasures.