A male Lion known as Mopane has been killed in a hunting area on the outskirts of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Reliable sources say that the Lion was targeted by a bow hunter in the same area that renowned Lion Cecil was killed in 2015. Mopane was shot after being baited in a hunting area on the outskirts of Hwange in a manner similar to Cecil’s killing.”
Mopane was a 12 year old pride male with a litter of six cubs. Almost every year, a dominant pride male resident between the park and the boundary farms is taken out by hunters. There is significant impact on pride dynamics as a result. Males taken out of a pride often cause conflict as other males move in resulting in the loss of Lionesses, less dominant males or cubs which are killed by the new males. Dispersal of youngsters fleeing into external areas creates potential human-wildlife conflict with communities living on the borders of the park.
20 Lions have been killed in this area over the past decade. Many argue that the current level of lion hunting is not sustainable in the area bordering Hwange National Park. Before he was targeted, Mopane had formed a coalition with another male named Seduli. On 10 August 2019, World Lion Day, Seduli was shot and killed by hunters on the outskirts of the park.
According to Drew Abrahamson, owner and founder of Captured in Africa (CIA) Foundation, the remaining pride consists of two adult females and six sub-adults of about 16 to 18 months of age.
“This time is uncertain for them now as they are still at a vulnerable age and relied on Mopane as well as the females for protection. The females are now going to have a very tough time in protecting the pride as they are. Only time will tell as there is now a huge void which will be sought after by other males.” ~ Drew Abrahamson.
Trophy Hunters Target Hwange Park
Hwange Park, in northwestern Zimbabwe, made world headlines in July 2015 when another of its well known Lions called Cecil was lured out of the park by US dentist Walter Palmer.
The heartbreaking details of the hunt that killed Cecil made international headlines: Cecil was lured out of the protected area with an Elephant carcass being used as bait and shot by Palmer with an arrow. After suffering for 10 agonizing hours, Cecil was eventually found and killed with a gunshot.
Walter Palmer was publicly shunned and received worldwide criticism, but did not face any charges in the Cecil’s death.
Seduli, another male Lion who frequented photographic lodges in and around Hwange National Park was shot dead by hunters on World Lion Day 2019 on the outskirts of the park.
Given the continued onslaught against the Lions of Hwange Park it would be beneficial to visually show the losses of dominant male Lions in this region over the course of the last 10 years. Does the number of male Lions shot over 10 years in one region appear sustainable to you given that lion populations have declined across Africa by 43% in the last 25 years? Add to this that with each of these males taken out of a pride, came the loss of either lionesses and cubs dying in the change-over or conflict it caused. Dispersal of youngsters fleeing into external areas creating potential human-wildlife conflict issues with communities living on the borders of the park is not uncommon and is proven in some cases to be as a direct result of these pride males being taken out by hunters.
What Does This Mean For The Lion Prides Of Hwange?
Healthy Lions – who traverse the park and viable protected photographic areas – are being taken out of the gene pool by trophy hunters, as well as Lions who are still breeding and are actively part of a healthy pride with possibly vulnerable cubs. Their loss contradicts the hunters’ philosophies of sustainability and asks when the last independent scientific survey was done on the sustainability of lion numbers in the region and the impact these losses have on pride dynamics in this landscape and the knock on affect to the communities who live in these dispersal areas? And surely looking at these numbers, and the areas where these lions are being taken out…. it is going against those very philosophies that the hunters are using?
Firstly by taking healthy Lions out of the gene pool which are known to be traversing the park and viable protected photographic areas, and secondly taking out Lions which are still breeding and are actively known to be part of a healthy pride and in some instances with vulnerable cubs?
The killing must stop now ~ before it is too late!!!