For many people, the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015, was the first time they had thought about trophy hunting. Cecil was a radio-collared lion from Hwange National Park, followed by researchers from Oxford’s WildCru, who raked in over a million in donations from the public after Cecil’s death. Cecil was one of 42 radio-collared lions that were shot by trophy hunters since the research team began their work in 1999. A shocking statistic which in itself begs the question “What will it take to stop trophy hunting of Hwange lions?” More research is clearly not the answer.

Andrew Loveridge, Cecil researcher and author of the book about Cecil’s death ‘Lionhearted’ states in the interview below that the greatest threat to lions in the Hwange area is trophy hunting.

Andrew Loveridge says “in Hwange it is the greatest threat”.

As an Oxford WildCru researcher, he stands in contrast to fellow WildCru researcher, Amy Dickman who continues to campaign against a ban on trophy hunting.

andrew loveridge interview on his book lionhearted about Cecil’s death

Trophy hunting of ‘other’ cecil’s continues

Shockingly, in spite of a worldwide media outcry, nothing has changed in Zimbabwe for lions, charges were dropped against the Professional Hunter who led the dentist Walter Palmer on his trophy hunt. Cecil’s son Xanda was killed 2 years later in almost identical circumstances. And on World Lion Day LAST year Seduli the lion was killed in the same way. The temporary ban on hunting lions with cross-bows which led to a long drawn-out death for Cecil has been lifted. Permits for bows and handguns for shooting ‘trophies’ can be applied for from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife service.

The faces of the victims

hwange lions shot by trophy hunters

Hwange male lions shot by trophy hunters over the last 10 years.
Photo credit Drew Abrahamson of Captured in Africa

trophy hunters literally lay in wait at the boundaries of hwange park to kill lions

Hunting concessions circle the Hwange National Park which has an unfenced boundary. This means that wild animals, including lions, constantly step in and out of the protected area. Lion and leopard hunters use bait, and hunting blinds to shoot from so animals can easily be lured from park boundaries into the hunting concessions that encircle the National Park. The age of 6 is deemed acceptable to be shot as a trophy animal, remember Cecil was 12, and still a pride male lion, and therefore crucial to the survival of his pride and its young.

A male lion at the age of 6 or above has survived against the odds (only 1 in 8 male cubs survives to adulthood) to establish himself he is likely to be in his prime, yet if he wanders outside of the boundaries of the Park, he can legally be shot by trophy hunters.

The bizarre age of 6 has been set for legal hunting of lions, an age when a male is likely to have only just established himself within a pride and therefore is likely to be of even greater importance to the success of his pride, serving as protector to young lions within the pride. Cecil the lion was 12 years old, and left behind young cubs in his pride. Where is the evidence that the loss of a 6 year old male lion is negligible.

In fact a moratorium on lion trophy hunting in Zambia showed the opposite;

In Zambia‘s South Luangwa National Park, scientists studied the effect of a moratorium placed on hunting lions from 2013-2015.

They observed that more cubs were born each year during the moratorium than any year with trophy hunting, and the adult male population grew significantly. As a result, they recorded an increase of 116 lions in 2012 to 209 by the end of the moratorium.