Trophy Hunting Is Driving The African Lion Into Extinction

THERE ARE LESS THAN 10,000 WILD LIONS LEFT IN AFRICA

A leading global Lion conservationist has warned of the impending extinction of lions in Africa where the overall population has fallen below 10 000 from a peak estimate of over 20 000 eight years ago.

In a presentation to the British parliamentary committee debating proposals to ban the importation of African wildlife trophies into the United Kingdom, African Lion specialist Pieter Kat said a recent field study by the organisation Lion Aid, revealed worrying prospects for the survival of African Lions:

“Our conclusion is that there are less than 10,000 wild Lions left in Africa. We base that number on the latest information from the ground,” Kat said.

“The current estimate of 20 000-30 000 Lions (in Africa) as stated by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (Red List) of 2016 is grossly inaccurate and urgently needs to be updated.”

In Africa, wild Lion populations are mostly found in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya.

Smaller clustered populations also exist in Uganda, Mozambique, Eswatini and Angola.

While Elephant population estimates can be done effectively by aerial survey, Kat said Lion population estimates can only be derived from small sample counts which are conducted using different techniques to ensure they are not misleading.

Kat said the IUCN 2016 African Lion population estimate was flawed because it included thousands of non-wild, captive-bred and fenced-off South African Lions in the final count.

“What we did in our latest study is to review the number of Lions in what are called lion conservation units,” he said.

“We went back to look at these conservation units in detail.

“Most people agree that Lions should be classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List.

“However, they are not. Instead, they are classified as ‘vulnerable’.

“One reason for this is that the IUCN partly based their estimates on 16 fenced Lion populations in Southern Africa, mostly in South Africa.

“Those fenced populations are not truly wild Lions.”

He said the IUCN estimate was also heavily influenced by trophy hunters who manipulated Lion census data to support their own claims that Lion populations are healthy enough to support trophy hunting business.

Kat said trophy hunting remains one of the biggest contributors to the decline of African Lion populations as well as the depletion of breeder gene pools through its deliberate targeting of big male Lions.

“In order to be able to develop an effective Lion conservation strategy for Africa, we need to know exactly how many Lions are where. We need to know how many lions exist in trophy hunting areas,” he added.

“The best hunting concessions in terms of tenders and bids all happen to be right on the borders of the national parks.

“We know that they are luring the Lions out of national parks to be killed in private hunting concessions, just like Cecil (in Zimbabwe) was.

“More hunting concessions in Tanzania and Zimbabwe are not being bid on anymore because they are no longer profitable. The Lions have all been shot out.”

According to Kat, the claims often made by the trophy hunting lobby to the effect that trophy hunting funds the conservation of African wildlife are grossly inaccurate and deliberately misleading:

“Trophy hunters are allowed to sit on the IUCN committee of lion experts.

“More and more people have been allowed into the group who were not primarily concerned with lion conservation but rather Lion utilisation.

“This causes problems, because whenever politicians want to make decisions on wildlife conservation, the first place they turn to is the IUCN.

“They view the IUCN as the organisation that supposedly has the knowledge and information about how to best conserve species in the wild.

“However, many of the “experts” that are being consulted are not the ones who have the right information.”

Kat said there is clear evidence that Lions are being badly affected by trophy hunting since the hunters select the best animals, which are often the biggest-maned male breeding Lions.

“A number of studies in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia have shown this.

“A hunter does not want a young male (although these were hunted in Tanzania when they ran out of the big males).

“The big-maned Lions hunters target are often the leaders in a pride. This way, trophy hunting results in heavy disruptions of Lion prides.

“The females do not produce cubs anymore because new males will come in and say, “that’s not my cub” and kill the cubs.

“The pride structure of Lions simply falls apart as a result of trophy hunting.”

To save Lions from extinction, Africa range states should adopt conservation strategies to save the biggest and the best remaining Lion cluster populations.

They also need to craft holistic conservation strategies that include the use of effective, tried and tested techniques to protect rural communities and keep livestock safe from predators in order to reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

This article by Oscar Nkala was first published by The Standard on 7 August 2022.

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Dean Schneider Accused of Abuse But The Media And Lion Conservation Groups Miss The Bigger Picture!

DEAN SCHNEIDER

Captive Wildlife Watchdog has been writing articles about Dean Schneider since, well, since before he ever became a household name. Our first addressment of Dean Schneider occurred before he even possessed lions. We have continued to document his meteoric rise to stardom as a fresh-faced animal exploiter ‘rescuer’ who used his considerable wealth ‘gave up his considerable wealth’ to buy land and animals so that he could ‘rescue animals’ in South Africa and start his own private zoo ‘sanctuary’ called Hakuna Mipaka.

Captive Wildlife Watchdog knew, before Schneider became a star with nearly 7 million Instagram followers, that what Schneider was doing with his animals was exploitive, and we endeavoured from the moment he began promoting himself, to educate the public about this fact. Until now, at the end of April 2020, approximately 3-4 years after we first began discussing Schneider, CWW has been the only conservation group to even acknowledge his existence, much less question it.

No media outlets, or other conservation groups or foundations followed our lead when we began pointing out that what Schneider was trying to do was unethical. No one joined in the discussion about how falsely presenting oneself as Schneider was doing, how interacting with captive wild animals, and gaining fans through those interactions, while feeding them incorrect, or fractured information, was exploitive, and sent the wrong message to the public. Instead, viral articles and videos presenting falsely praising narratives about Dean Schneider–whose PR personnel were actually responsible for–ran rampant, and within only a few months’ time, Schneider went from a few hundred followers and fans, to several million. He now has over seven million fans and growing on Instagram alone.

Making it explicitly clear that Captive Wildlife Watchdog has been the sole voice discussing Dean Schneider, and calling out his exploitation isn’t about our ego, it’s about respecting the fact that we made every attempt to prevent Schneider from ever becoming the entity he now is.

CWW has tried, over the years, to encourage even larger, and more well-known entities to join us in discussing the exploiters we address on our own pages. CWW has tried, over the years, to explain to other conservation entities that they cannot “stay in their lane” and focus only on a micro-specific area and expect the public to grasp larger, more abstract concepts by extrapolation. That’s not how lay-folk with only a superficial understanding of conservation and captive wildlife situations absorb, and retain information. Humans in general do not make choices based in objectivity, but rather, on emotional attachment.

We always encourage our readers to go out and do their own research on a subject, rather than just taking CWW’s word for something. We always encourage our readers to go out and do their own research on a subject, rather than just taking CWW’s word for something. But when CWW is the only group discussing that something, or subject, it makes it impossible for readers who don’t have a deeper understanding of conservation to make an informed decision about whether or not an entity or group is ethical.

Similarly, when conservation groups suddenly comment on someone the public at large admires, without providing the historical context of issues documented by others (like CWW) it’s extremely easy for the public to dismiss any negative remarks or posts as simply “jumping on the bandwagon for attention” and subsequently disregard that information as inaccurate. And when other pages, like the EMS Foundation share links that do lead directly to CWW (we thank you for that) they simultaneously devalue that direct sharing of information when they accompany it with text like “It’s time to examine some of the Big Cat Saviour personalities in South Africa.”  As if doing that is a novel suggestion, rather than the very thing CWW has been actively and continually campaigning for all this time.

DEAN SCNEIDER REPEATEDLY PUNCHES A LION

In the last few days, Dean Schneider has made headlines, after a video showing him punching one of his lions went viral. CWW actually posted this video back on February 23. It subsequently received 40 shares, and almost 150 comments, but no greater public acknowledgement. This video wasn’t the first time Schneider has struck his animals. CWW has posted about his actions and training methods numerous times. It’s not uncommon for Schneider to swat and smack his lions (more on such methods later) and it’s not something he’s ever hidden. But now that the international media has obtained the story, and it’s being circulated widely (without any credit offered to Captive Wildlife Watchdog, for having repeatedly reported on animal exploitation, abuse, and issues regarding Schneider for the last few years) suddenly now others are weighing in with statements on Schneider as a ‘conservationist’.

Even Blood Lions has now made official posts addressing Schneider, stating that:

“Dean Schneider and similar “influencers” set an extremely poor example by perpetuating captive wildlife interactions, especially after SATSA have identified such activities as “unacceptable”.

There is no reason other than for veterinary purposes to interact with captive wildlife. This therefore begs the question of why such influencers insist on wildlife interactions, other than for self-interest and financial gain.

This individual and the facility are involved in nothing other than the commercial, and as seen in the clip, at times brutal, exploitation of wildlife. Centred on a selfish lifestyle choice, the facility, and so many others involved in similar activities, play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.

Although Hakuna Mipaka’s website states that they don’t breed, Schneider has recently allowed one of his lionesses to become pregnant. Captive breeding however serves no conservation value and only adds to the already massive and problematic captive lion population in South Africa, which is estimated at 8000 – 12000. This is 3-4 times as many lions as in the wild.”

Thank you, Blood Lions, for repeating what CWW has been saying for years. Because we greatly respect BL, we have tagged them repeatedly in our past posts regarding exploiters like Schneider, Richardson, and others in SA who capitalize on captive bred lions for interactions. For example, Richardson’s purchase of six captive bred cubs from Ukutula Lion Farm, and his training of children to work with them in order to make a feature length film. Despite putting money directly back into the captive lion breeding industry, Richardson’s purchase of the cubs (now nearly adults) has been widely viewed by his fans as “rescuing” them, and the movie he made using those captive bred cubs has been called by supporters a huge effort in “lion conservation”. Yet Blood Lions has never publicly addressed Richardson’s actions, nor have they ever addressed Schneider’s until now. Perhaps if they had, Schneider would never have made it this far, with a huge cushion of 7 million fans to catch him even in the midst of accusations of animal abuse.

And even after posting such a straightforward statement, BL has responded to questions asking if they no longer support Richardson now, with the circumspect response:

“Blood Lions has never expressed support for nor condoned Kevin Richardson.”

Perhaps BL has never publicly advertised or endorsed Richardson, certainly not that we’ve ever seen. However, very often what a foundation doesn’t say or do speaks just as loudly as what they do say or do. BL has never suggested that Richardson is anything but the lion conservation hero millions view him to be, so why, when Richardson has repeatedly supported and referenced Blood Lions, would followers not presume that BL likewise endorses Richardson?

KEVIN RICHARDSON WITH ONE OF HIS LIONS. CREDIT: JACKIE BADENHORST

CWW was also recently tagged in a comment on a post in Volunteers in Africa Beware. Our long time readers might recall that ViAB is not a fan of CWW, and has attacked us several times because of our criticism of Kevin Richardson. Now ViAB has created a section devoted to Dean Schneider, and have made posts in regard to him. In response to the commenter who tagged CWW and expressed relief that ViAB had finally seen the light in regard to Schneider, ViAB responded that since Schneider didn’t take volunteers they’d been busy dealing with exploiters who did take volunteers. What ViAB isn’t acknowledging is the fact that take volunteers. What ViAB isn’t acknowledging is the fact that Schneider did, in fact, accept volunteers. He even advertised for them actively for the first two years or so he was around. And Captive Wildlife Watchdog reported on this fact repeatedly. It was only in response to CWW’s steady pressure that Schneider stopped taking volunteers in order to make himself a non-profit’ in an attempt to get CWW off his back.

We’d also like to note, that both these well respected, and well known groups have chosen to share mainstream media articles created amidst the recent viral stir which, aside from referencing the video of Schneider punching one of his lions, We’d also like to note, that both these well respected, and well known groups have chosen to share mainstream media articles created amidst the recent viral stir which, aside from referencing the video of Schneider punching one of his lions, contain numerous counts of false information the sharing of which only serves to further public confusion and actually makes Schneider more likable and relatable.

It would have been more informative for readers (and respectful to us as the only established conservation page addressing these exploiters) if these other pages had linked to CWW where there is a large amount of information devoted to Schneider. Again, this is not about trying to get credit, or a pat on the back, it’s about respect. CWW has tried repeatedly to engage others like Blood Lions in discussing exploiters who directly interact with their captive big cats, like Dean Schneider, and we have consistently and largely been brushed aside, and ignored. Now everything CWW has been devoted to reporting on, and educating the public about has become a front-and-centre topic–in no small part because CWW has been devoted to reporting on it, and we shared the video that started all of this back in February.

In focusing solely on Schneider’s physical strike on his lions, the mainstream media, and those conservation groups sharing the limited, and erroneous articles produced by it, are missing the In focusing solely on Schneider’s physical strike on his lions, the mainstream media, and those conservation groups sharing the limited, and erroneous articles produced by it, are missing the bigger picture, and picture, and bigger discussion, which must take place in order to achieve true change. If people didn’t idolize those who interact with captive wildlife, specifically in this case lions and big cats, then Schneider would never have possessed a lion to hit in the first place.

These CONservationists, who perpetuate big cat interactions, such as Kevin Richardson, Schneider, and Serio, along with others, all parrot some variation of the phrase “People protect what they love”. They profess to be spreading awareness and education by making the public fall in love with the captive wild animals they interact with.

But this ideology is fundamentally flawed from birth, for several reasons. It both establishes and reinforces the premise that humans literally aren’t capable of caring for, or conserving something they aren’t personally enamoured of. If the same rationale is applied to other areas, this would indicate that humans will not care for starving or sick people or animals they don’t have a personal attachment to, will not fund efforts to salvage artwork they don’t personally admire, will not partake in supporting relief aid to an area of the world they don’t personally care about, and so on and so forth. Not only is the proposition grossly disheartening, and completely inaccurate, but it also orients the entire ideology around how humans feel, making human wants and human needs the primary precondition which must be met and fulfilled by everything else, This then commodifies the captive wildlife involved as merely an asset to be used in achieving the goal of addressing human wants and human needs.

To this end, captive big cats held in naturalistic settings are substituted for wild big cats in actual wild settings, accompanied by rhetoric claiming that by loving and embracing these captive bred, captive held big cats, the general public will be able to conserve wild members of the same species. Captive bred lions have, effectively, become a beloved surrogate for the real deal, To this end, captive big cats held in naturalistic settings are substituted for wild big cats in actual wild settings, accompanied by rhetoric claiming that by loving and embracing these captive bred, captive held big cats, the general public will be able to conserve wild members of the same species. Captive bred lions have, effectively, become a beloved surrogate for the real deal, wild lions. And the continued breeding of captive lions, the continued use of them in interactions with their caretakers, represents a physical manifestation of the choice to embrace captive lions over, and instead of, wild lions. For every captive lion bred, ‘rescued’ and cared for, time, money, public devotion, effort, resources, etc. are diverted from the protection, and conservation of established wild lion populations, and the ever-shrinking wild habituate they live in. This is compounded by adored ‘heroes’ like Richardson, and Schneider justifying their purchase of captive bred lions as ethical rescues, worthy of supporting.

Billions of dollars are spent every year on tourism and ‘conservation’ which is focused solely on captive bred, captive held lions, while existing wild populations are poached, starved, and killed in human/lion conflicts. Scientific studies on wild lion populations struggle to gain funding, while studies attached to captive lions (like those bred by LionALERT and Ukutula) are readily funded and then used to support the breeding of more captive lions, as well as misinforming the public that it will all go to saving wild lions in wild spaces.

To use an old American phrase which was historically used in crass reference to women having sex before marriage “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Why spend thousands of dollars on an African safari with no guarantee of seeing actual wild lions in wild spaces, even in the handful of ‘hotspots’ which are highly trafficked, when you can go to a managed reserve and see captive bred lions in a large natural-but-fenced setting? Why spend years obtaining grants and monetary backing for scientific research on wild lions when your subjects could be killed by poachers, or farmers in conflicts, throwing your entire study off when you can just study captive lions in naturalistic captive settings and then extrapolate your data to be applied to wild lions? Captive bred, captive held lions (including those living on game reserves, not to be confused with nature reserves) have become a billion dollar industry of commodity, while wild lions in wild spaces have become ageing artefacts, fast fading from relevancy.

If we want to live in a world where wild lions still exist in wild spaces we absolutely must change the ideology that captive bred lions in captive situations can somehow fix the plight of wild lions in wild situations. The two are entirely separate issues. Interacting with captive lions cannot, and will not, save wild lions. This fact has been proven by the continued decline of wild lions in association with the continued rise in captive lions. It’s no longer open for debate. Captive lions are growing, and wild lions are dying.

As long as interacting with captive lions is excused and accepted, this trend will continue. It simply is not possible to play favourites, when it comes to interacting with captive big cats, and excuse the behaviour when carried out by one party while criticizing it from another.

 Per Blood Lions’ recent post regarding Dean Schneider:

 “Similar “influencers” set an extremely poor example by perpetuating captive wildlife interactions, especially after SATSA have identified such activities as “unacceptable”.

There is no reason other than for veterinary purposes to interact with captive wildlife. This therefore begs the question of why such influencers insist on wildlife interactions, other than for self-interest and financial gain.

This individual and the facility are involved in nothing other than the commercial, and as seen in the clip, at times brutal, exploitation of wildlife. Centred on a selfish lifestyle choice, the facility, and so many others involved in similar activities, play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.”

Everything in this statement is 100% accurate.

Which means that Blood Lions should, ethically speaking, specifically name the “similar influencers” they’re referencing, in order to better education the public as to who they are. For example, Kevin Richardson. BL is a South Africa group, and Richardson is the preeminent influencer engaging in wildlife interactions which have been identified by SATSA as ‘unacceptable”. Let’s call a spade a spade here, shall we? It is more than beyond time for those who wish to actually end the perpetuation of captive wildlife interaction to bluntly and publicly make a stand against those promoting it, like Kevin Richardson.

If, indeed, interacting with captive big cats is done for “self-interest and financial gain” and is an example of a “selfish lifestyle choice” and that such facilities “play no conservation or scientific role; they should be phased out.” it would have been extremely beneficial for Blood Lions to public say so in a forthright manner when Kevin Richardson oversaw the purchase of six lions cubs from Ukutula Lion Farm, and then proceeded to spend three years training children to interact with them while making a feature length film about interacting with captive lions. Yet here we are, five years on, a young woman killed by one of those six captive bred, lions, trained to interact with a different young woman, and Richardson is comfortably ensconced with a new young pride of lions to continue interacting with for the next couple of decades, having faced no real backlash aside from that offered by CWW.

And what will happen after this media splash regarding Dean Schneider has passed? Will Blood Lions, and ViAB continue to discuss Schneider? Or will their vitally important voices disappear as quickly as they showed up?

Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. Yes, CWW is being hard on this matter. We desperately need other conservation groups to stop playing politics and start educating the public in a whole-picture approach. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them because. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them. We need them to stop turning a blind eye to big name, beloved, ‘experts’ and entities who do the very same thing people like Dean Schneider are doing. The public–as evidenced by their adoration of these figures–does not, and will not, see a difference between them because there is no fundamental difference to see.

Dean Schneider’s lions (from what CWW can ascertain) receive the same balanced diet and level of veterinarian care and attention that Kevin Richardson’s lions receive. Richardson took his lions out on ‘enrichment walks’ until one of them killed Megan van der Zwan, and now he’s created a huge new fenced enclosure in which to walk with them for ‘enrichment’ purposes. Schneider’s lions live in a massive, natural enclosure wherein they will eventually be allowed to hunt live food, and are provided with a very naturalistic life–aside from Schneider interacting with them.

Schneider, and Richardson both learned to handle lions through interactions at established exploitive facilities, both now refer to themselves as animal behaviourists, both have participated in various ‘conservation projects’ beyond their own facilities, both have spent time with outreach programs, both profess to educate the public. Schneider is dealing with the current drama of a video purportedly showing him to punch his lion, something that he’s already successfully segwayed into a boost in followers, while Richardson trained children to strike lions in the face during the making of Mia And The White Lion, a movie which gained worldwide notoriety and accolades.

MIA AND THE WHITE LION

The public supports both of these figures because Richardson has been, and continues to be upheld as a saviour of lions, while Schneider is simply the “2020 modern model” of Richardson.

Making a couple of posts in the throes of a viral skirmish about alleged abuse on the part of Dean Schneider is simply not good enough to effectively reverse the public fixation with captive big cat interactions. Neither is sharing articles which do as much to support Schneider, by repeating his own self-serving false information presenting him as someone with ‘good intentions’ as they do criticize him.

Unless entities like Blood Lions, Volunteers In Africa Beware, EMS Foundation, Captivity Kills, People Against Canned Hunting, Voices For The Voiceless, and the hundreds of other pages, groups, and people who have shared Blood Lions’s posts, and ViAB’s posts about Schneider also start naming, and including entities like Kevin Richardson, and Eduardo Serio, Sirga The Lioness, and others who operate solely on the basis of interacting with their captive big cats and other wild animals, nothing is going to change in the future.

CWW has wondered for years, now, as stated in one of BL’s recent posts about Schneider, yes, “why do these individuals gain a ‘hero status’” for interacting with their captive lions when “we have real conservationists and wildlife rangers working to protect our heritage” of wild lions in wild spaces on a daily basis?  Of wild lions in wild spaces on a daily basis? Why indeed?

Thus, CWW would like to alter the EMS Foundation’s suggestion to more accurately state that

“It’s time” for conservation groups, and entities to join CWW’s ongoing examination of “the Big Cat Saviour personalities in South Africa.” rather than only chiming in when there’s a public uproar on the matter.

We will never stop in our efforts to educate the public about the fact that interactions with captive bred wildlife only serves to promote interactions with captive bred wildlife. Regardless of acknowledgement, or whether or not CWW is ever offered the common respect for having lead the way in addressing this matter openly and publicly, CWW will continue as we have for the last several years. However, it will remain an uphill battle to counter the ideologies set forth by exploiters like Schneider, Richardson, and those like them, so long as established pages, groups and foundations, continue to refuse to take a solid stance on the subject the way we have.

Circling back to the errors being reinforced within the viral articles which are shared so much attention during this frenzy, we are addressing the major points below.

Among the false information being provided in the articles which are now being shared by established conservation entities like those mentioned above, thus spreading the false information further:

– This is a shocking, unexpected incident, which has caused Dean Schneider’s fans to question him, and accuse him of abuse.

False

Schneider has struck his lions before, and Captive Wildlife Watchdog has discussed it before, pointing out that other entities who handle their big cats do likewise. As mentioned by CWW in our articles, the “asserting oneself as a pride member” involves striking big cats. Eduardo Serio of Black Jaguar White Tiger has done it, and so has Kevin Richardson. Richardson has even coached the child-actors of Mia And The White Lion to “grab his tongue, smack him, do whatever you’ve got to do” in order to get an adolescent lion to release its grip on her head while wrestling on the ground together. In that video, the young child actress can be seen slapping the lion in the face, and it then releases her, at which point Richardson congratulates her and praises her actions. Schneider’s propensity for striking his animals is so well documented that his fans have immediately responded the two accusations of abuse by defending Schneider, and providing explanations as to why what he’s doing is not abuse, but rather Haters are simply lying about him out of jealousy.

Dean Schneider quit his job in Switzerland to move to Africa and care for a pride of lions.

False

Schneider did not quit his job, or give up a lifestyle, or sacrifice anything in order to move to Africa to care for lions. After visiting Africa with the investment company he ran, LifeGate AG, Dean Schneider chose to purchase land in Africa, and open his own ‘sanctuary’. In order to grow his fan base, Dean Schneider himself propagated the story that he’d given up everything he owned, and abandoned an exclusive lifestyle in order to move to Africa. His PR people created these stories and disseminated them repeatedly, and intentionally in a calculated move to create viral sensations. It worked, especially with the help of Bored Panda, who shared one of those fake articles, resulting in millions of news and shares. CWW took Bored Panda on directly, and our confrontation with them resulted in a deletion of their post about Schneider, followed by a cover up that they’d ever promoted him. The entire event was documented in a Note published by CWW, which we would love to link readers to, but cannot, as Schneider reported it for under false DMCA accusations, and Facebook removed our note. This is standard for Schneider, who also reported CWW for posting a hyperlink to the music video which was filmed on Hakuna Mipaka, wherein his lion Dexter was used as a prop. Schneider regularly jets back and forth to Switzerland, and is still listed on several banking businesses as a founder, or other entity, and enjoys lavish receptions celebrating himself as an influencer.

Dean Schneider received no training in animal handling before moving to Africa and starting his sanctuary.

False

Schneider first worked with Klaudia Kollar of Malkia Park Big Cats Rescue. In its earliest days (opened to the public in 2016) Malkia Park allowed direct contact with the big cats in its care. Schneider worked with them on a regular basis, from cubs to adults. But when Kollar came to the realization that handling captive big cats, and allowing the public to also do so, only contributed to the problem, and normalized interactions between humans and big cats, she ceased all hands-on activities (CWW has spoken with Kollar several times about this, and while videos of her interacting with some of the cats continue to circulate, there is no indication anything is more recent than 2016, when we first encountered her and she was in the process of going hands off). After the ban on interactions, and hands-off care was put into place, Schneider parted ways with Kollar. He chose to purchase land in South Africa, having already visited at that point, with LifeGate AG for a trip, and made connections with Luke Cornell, of Cornellskop Animal Encounters. Cornellskop is also where Schneider met Jesse, his “right-hand man”. Under the guidance of Luke Cornell, Schneider worked with lions and other big cats, including cheetahs, handling them at all stages of development, from cub to adult, including training methods. Schneider also learned all about various species of primate, had exposure to captive bred wolves, and hyenas, along with herbivores like elands, zebra, giraffe and other antelope species. Schneider possesses licensing to breed and sell animals, and has bought those in his care, likely from sources or contacts associated with Cornellskop, which also breeds and sells. Hakuna Mipaka shares a huge number of species also found at Cornellskop, including elands, zebra, lions, hyenas, cheetah, primates, reptiles, and wolf-hybrids or wolves. A fan of Schneider’s has helpfully created this nearly 20 minute long video, titled “Beautiful Old Moments” which showcases just how much experience and interaction Schneider had with big cats and primates in the period before he founded Hakuna Mipaka. The greener, more urban settings shown are Malkia Park, while most of the rest is footage from Cornellskop.

The above points are examples of Schneider’s own misinformation formulated to present himself as a pious hero who sacrificed a world of privilege to embrace a life of struggle, surrounded by his ‘family’ of ‘rescued’ animals. The false narrative has worked to magnificent effect, allowing Schneider–in the absence of any countering forces aside from CWW–to create a massive fan base. Even the current media kerfuffle pertaining to his abuse in the form of punching one of his lions has helped, rather than harmed him, pushing his follower count beyond the 7 million mark on Instagram.

And damage control on Schneider’s part is well underway. In a 6 minute Instagram post, Schneider explains to his fans that everyone who does anything worthwhile in life will, at some point, face Haters who, out of jealousy, boredom, or unhappiness with their own lives, will attempt to take down those who are more successful, more popular, or just better people, than they are. Schneider goes on to explain the video that shows him throwing punches, even playing the entire clip (which is cut short in the Gabo-released footage) and stating that while the articles written by Haters claim he’s being investigated for abuse, he’s never been contacted by authorities. Schneider then invites authorities to come to Hakuna Mipaka and meet him, and inspect the facility. The video has been viewed nearly 2 million times as of this drafting. A second, much shorter video, in which Schneider laughingly thanks all of his Haters for helping him surpass 7 million followers, has been views over 1 million times so far.

Here is the fact that is not being acknowledged or discussed by the media (because the authors of these viral articles are not experts and are ignorant) or by the conservation pages sharing them and making statements of their own in regard to all of this drama:

Schneider’s physical strikes on his lion will not, and we cannot stress this enough, will not be categorized as abuse of a level that warrants citation, or removal of those animals. Period. There is no one, and again, we cannot stress this enough, there is no one, who interacts with captive big cats who has not whacked those cats on the nose, head, body, etc. during their training and interactions.

Fans may not witness it in videos, may not believe it occurs, but the fact remains that it does, and anyone who claims they have never done so while interacting with their captive big cats is lying.

Whether it’s a stick, or staff, a shoe, the flat of a hand, a whip, elbow, a human body part, or artificial aid, all captive big cats who are directly interacted with by humans have been struck at some point in order to ‘lay the boundary’ of what is, and is not acceptable during those interactions. The only way to prevent this from happening is to prevent humans from engaging in interactions with captive big cats, and captive wildlife in general. This is the conversation that the media, and those sharing the media’s limited articles could have, and should have, engaged in.

What’s happening right now in regard to Schneider is like Americans attacking Harvey Weinstein in the US for his engagement in abusive activities, but not demanding that Hollywood stop supporting the activities that Weinstein is being vilified for participating in. Schneider exists because the current regime within the captive big cat world allows, and rewards, the interaction of humans and captive big cats in the form of popularity and fandom. It’s the only thing that makes it possible for people like Schneider, Serio, Antle, to exist. And in South Africa, that regime was built from the ground up, in no small part, by Kevin Richardson. Lion farms, captive lion breeding, and canned hunting have existed for many years prior to the last two decades (Douglas H. Fletcher is attributed to have started breeding lions in captivity in the 1960s, and in 1980 established Sandhurst Safaris, lions being one their primary game animals. Now called Tinashe Outfitters and run by Fletcher’s son, Clayton they hosts all manner of big cats. But being touted as a conservationist, and beatified as a hero for interacting with captive wild lions is an immediately modern archetype created by and exemplified Richardson alone. Until this revered archetype is publicly dismantled for the fraud that it is, others are going to continue adopting it, and exploit

You can keep up to date with Captive Wildlife Watchdog updates and exposés HERE.

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We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

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‘The Hunter Was Hunted’: Riaan Naude, Trophy Hunter Who Killed Hundreds Of Wild Animals, Murdered

RIAAN NAUDE WITH SOME OF HIS ‘TROPHIES’

Riaan Naude, a trophy hunter in South Africa known for “proudly” displaying images of himself with innocent animals that he killed for so-called “sport,” has been killed. Naude’s company Pro Hunt Africa has taken the lives of many threatened and endangered species throughout South Africa.

Riaan Naude was a professional hunter denounced by international animal rights organizations due to the large number of wild specimens that died in his hands.

Naude also was heavily involved in breeding and selling Giraffes to numerous customers so that they could later hunt them and serve as personal trophies.

NAUDE ALSO BRED AND SOLD HUNDREDS OF GIRAFFES FOR TROPHY HUNTERS TO ‘HUNT’

Environmentalists Expose Trophy Killing confirmed the news through their Twitter account, stating that Naude was killed while on a hunting trip.

Naude stopped his vehicle on the side of the road approximately 5 km from Mokopane after it overheated, according to the Heritage Protection Group (HPG), a non-profit crime-fighting organization

A second vehicle pulled up next to Naude, and a man shot him in cold blood at close range.

The two suspects got out of the car and stole a gun from Naude, HPG mentions. “The suspects then got into their vehicle and drove in the direction of Marken.”

Police spokesman Lt. Col. Mamphaswa Seabi said that when police officers arrived at the scene, they found the lifeless body next to his vehicle.

Police found two hunting rifles, clothing, water, whiskey, and pyjamas in the victim’s vehicle. The motive for the murder is unknown currently.

Users celebrate the death of Riaan Naude

The news has gone viral on social media and many cybernauts celebrated the killing, arguing that it was an act of justice for the animals.

“Hunter hunted. There is party in animal heaven. I’m not happy, but animals should not be anyone’s trophy; they should live and survive in their habitat naturally,” wrote a user in response to Expose Trophy Hunts tweet.

“No more abusing defenceless animals,” commented another user.

When I look at this picture (of Naude holding a Lion) I can’t feel sorry for him.

Death is the hardest thing to bear and I think of his family. However this magnificent lion in the picture also died…why turn a beautiful mature lion into a lifeless trophy? said another.

Truly, a tragedy. Why is it always the good ones that get taken from us so soon? My deepest sympathies to this poor lion’s family. said another

Why was he executed?

Although the authorities are working on the case, the hypothesis they are handling is the “high level of hatred that the locals had for the hunter, due to the enormous number of animals he killed.”

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals.It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible. Thank you for your support.

Trophy Hunting Will NOT Save Africa’s Lions – So the UK Ban On Imports Is a Positive Step For Wildlife Conservation.

TROPHY HUNTING WILL NOT SAVE LIONS

Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation: “Over the past 25 years, I have spent a lot of time counting Lions as part of my job. Only last month, I spent three hours with two males – possibly brothers – right next to my car in Maze National Park, Ethiopia. Lions come in the night, very quietly. Despite weighing well over 20 stone (around 150kg), you do not hear their footsteps. What you hear is their breathing, the turbo of the killing machine.

Had I turned on a light immediately, they would have run away. These Lions are skittish, even if they face no threat from trophy hunters in Africa’s national parks. So we spend half an hour in the pitch dark before I finally switch on a small red light to count the eye reflections. Another pause, then a bigger red light enables us to see their sex and age.

We get lucky: with the big spotlight they move to a discrete distance, but we still get to watch them for an hour before retiring to our tents a few hundred metres away. The Lions have long lost interest in us but the ranger makes a campfire which smoulders all night, just to be safe. This park has no outposts, no visitors and no emergency services, so we need to stay out of trouble.

HANS BAEUR ASSISTING WITH TRANSLOCATING A LIVESTOCK-RAIDING LION TO WAZA NATIONAL PARK, CAMEROON.

Maybe you have counted Lions in a zoo or wildlife park: “I see three – no wait, there’s a tip of another tail and a flickering ear, so four, or five?” People on safari in popular destinations where Lions are habituated to cars may have had the same experience. In the wilderness, however, Lions are hard to spot – across much of their range you don’t see them very often at all, especially during the day.

I have spent countless nights sitting on top of my vehicle, playing buffalo or warthog cries with a megaphone, trying to catch a glimpse of Lions attracted by these sounds. I have walked for days to find footprints or put up automated camera traps. For every day of fieldwork there is a day of grant writing before and a day of reporting afterwards – but yes, it is a wonderful job.

I once found Lions in a part of Ethiopia where they had not been documented and added a blob on the distribution map. Unfortunately, over the last 25 years, it has been much more common to reduce or delete entries from our African Lion Database.

My research shows that during this time, Lion numbers have decreased by 43% throughout Africa, and that their range has declined by more than 90%. There are now roughly 25,000 Lions in 60 separate population groups, half of which consist of less than 100 Lions. Their existence is particularly threatened across West, Central and East Africa.

I first went to Cameroon in 1992 to do my masters project in Waza National Park, and have worked in various parts of Africa ever since (I currently live in Mali). My main research focus with WildCRU – Europe’s first university-based conservation research unit – is the mitigation of human-Lion conflicts. I study the difficult balance between people’s livelihoods and the conservation of biodiversity, working close-up at village level but also at national and international perspectives.

This led to me being asked to give evidence to the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Banning Trophy Hunting, which on 29 June 2022 presented its report on the impacts of trophy hunting to the environment secretary, George Eustice. This follows the UK government’s announcement in December 2021 that it would ban the importing of body parts of 7,000 species including Lions, rhinos, elephants and polar bears. On average, roughly ten Lion “trophies” are imported into the UK each year, among many other threatened species.

There are many ways to look at this issue, and the debate usually ends up in a deadlock between utilitarians and moralists. I won’t hide my sympathy for the latter – I work with organisations such as the Born Free Foundation. But after a week in the field living on pasta and tinned tomato sauce, I will eat bushmeat in a village with no alternatives if it has been harvested legally and sustainably.

The future of trophy hunting in Africa was not on the table during the APPG’s discussions about a UK import ban – and if it was, it would be for African scientists to advise their governments of the pros and cons. In my view, however, the evidence is clear that trophy hunting has not delivered for wildlife in most parts of Africa, and that local communities benefit next to nothing from its continued practice.

How trophy hunting works

Trophy hunting is a controversial topic in conservation circles. In some cases, the fact that Lions are doing better in parts of southern Africa has – wrongly, in my view – been attributed to it. But in itself, trophy hunting is not the Lions’ biggest threat either; my research shows that more are killed when they attack livestock, or perish when their habitat and prey is diminished by agricultural encroachment or poaching.

In Africa, trophy hunting’s popularity grew during colonial times when all sorts of slain animals were sent back to Europe. Nowadays, antelopes are this industry’s most hunted animals – but the most prestigious targets remain the “big five”: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhinoceros and Buffalo.

LION IMAGE FROM A CAMERA TRAP IN DINDER NATIONAL PARK, SUDAN. HANS BAUER

A client might pay a local entrepreneur or hunting guide anywhere between £10,000 and £100,000 for a “bag” that includes a Lion – and the super-rich may pay (or donate) even more. It’s a lot of money for a holiday, and trophy hunting mostly attracts rich, white, middle-aged men from western countries.

Hunting guides are businessmen (almost all are male). They generally lease government land that has been designated for conservation through “sustainable use”. Known as trophy hunting “blocks”, these areas vary widely (anywhere between 500km² and 5,000km²) and each has annual quotas for the amounts of different species that may be shot by trophy hunters.

In theory, this restricts the killings to a level the population can sustain. Hunting guides then manage their blocks to maintain these wildlife numbers, including organising anti-poaching patrols. The guides employ staff, pay the land lease, trophy fees and a bunch of other costs – including to a taxidermist and export company to deliver the skin and skull to their client after the kill. It is a big industry that claims to be good for both wildlife and local people, but these guides are not charity workers; they maximise their benefits and minimise their costs.

Trophy hunting also does not focus (as is sometimes suggested) on killing off the older, weaker animals in any block. Wildlife populations grow fastest when their densities are low, so that food and aggression are not limiting factors. In order to minimise any such competition – and to offer the biggest trophies – trophy hunts will target healthy animals, not just the old and infirm.

Lions and livestock

The methodology used for setting trophy hunting quotas varies from country to country. Cameroon, for example, has traditionally had very high quotas for Lions, but these were not based on scientific rigour. In 2015 we published our first survey results based on observations done by three teams tracking Lions over a vast range.

Each team drove for thousands of kilometres across Cameroon, very slowly, always with two trackers stationed on the bonnet of each 4×4 looking for footprints. We got stuck, camped, waited for trophy hunters to depart before being allowed into a particular area, struggled to get diesel, tolerated the heat and the tsetse flies – it was all part of our daily routine following the Lions.

Ultimately, we counted 250 Lions, 316 Leopards and 1,376 Spotted Hyenas. Cameroon does not offer a trophy hunting quota for Leopards, and Hyenas are not popular with hunters – but as a result of our count, the country’s annual Lion quota was reduced from 30 to ten. Today this quota is still applied throughout northern Cameroon’s Bénoué ecosystem, which has 32 trophy hunting blocks in between its three national parks.

Of these 32 blocks, however, more than ten no longer have any resident Lions. And when the blocks lose their Lions, this also threatens those living in the national parks – as there is a big difference between having 250 Lions spread across 30,000km² of contiguous habitat, or three isolated populations of 50 in parks of 3,000km² each.

GRAZING LIVESTOCK CAN BE EASY PREY FOR LIONS AT NIGHT. HANS BAUER

When I visited Cameroon again in 2021, I observed cattle everywhere – which is not a good combination with Lions. Many of these herds had come from neighbouring countries – pastoralists running from the threat of terrorists in Mali and Niger. As a result, the pressure on these areas, and those who manage them, is intense. It is hard enough to integrate local communities in conservation work, much harder with nomadic people.

Whenever livestock grazes in an area with Lions, you inevitably get some depredation. Lions will kill some livestock and, in retaliation, people will kill some Lions. This is perhaps the biggest challenge in Lion conservation, and all the programmes I know are working to mitigate it. There are tools available to reduce the damage, from flashlights and watchdogs to mobile enclosures and more. But this only works if you know the people living there and can collaborate towards a common goal – not if you have different people passing through every time.

In fact, the pastoralists I have met are usually quite tolerant – they like Lions. A herder in Cameroon once told me: “If a Lion attacks one cow this year, I will know that God has not forgotten me.” Another in Ethiopia said: “We do not think Lions take our livestock to hurt us. As a result, we do not refer to it as an ‘attack’ or ‘killing’ – they are taking what they need.”

Nonetheless, some people – pastoralists and others – inevitably pay a high price for co-existing with Lions, and they would prefer them in someone else’s backyard.

I have collared Lions in several countries. I know the thrill of a hunt, but a dart gun does not kill – and the information you get from a Lion’s collar is amazing. In Waza National Park, I followed Lions this way and some behaved very well – but the worst offender killed a hundred-thousand dollars’ worth of cattle in our time there. The park’s warden asked me: “How long do you think the local people will pay this price for Lion conservation?”

Almost all Lion trophy hunting zones in Africa are part of larger ecosystems that include national parks, and in most cases the hunt quotas are based on the entire population of Lions, including those living in the parks. An argument used by trophy hunters is that they are protecting extra land with extra Lions – but it’s not that simple.

While trophy hunting blocks do add Lions and extra habitat, they can still become a drain on the overall population when Lions move out of the parks into emptied territories within the blocks. These so-called “source-sink dynamics” became a global news story in July 2015 because of Cecil, the black-maned Lion that my WildCRU colleagues were satellite-tracking when he was killed by an American trophy hunter.

Cecil had been lured from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and was shot by Walter Palmer, a dentist from the Minneapolis area. It was actually quite a routine occurrence, but the death of Cecil the Lion created a worldwide media storm – feeding into the UK’s proposal for a ban on trophy hunt imports.

The model starts to unravel

Throughout most of Africa, Lion numbers are declining. While trophy hunting is far from the only reason for this, the evidence clearly shows it has failed in its promise to provide a significant boost to wildlife conservation. I once thought it might offer benefits too, but studying its impacts and costs has taught me otherwise.

Trophy hunting is allowed in countries throughout East, Central and West Africa including Burkina Faso, Benin, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sudan and the Congo – and in all these countries, Lion declines have been particularly steep. The Central African Republic is the most extreme example: almost half the country was designated as hunting blocks, yet wildlife there has all but disappeared. In 2012, the late researcher and conservationist Philippe Bouché published Game Over! – the title said it all.

A MALE LION IN ZAKOUMA NATIONAL PARK, CHAD. PHOTOGRAPH: HANS BAUER

Trophy hunting has proved increasingly vulnerable to, on one hand, rising management costs due to the increased threats of agricultural encroachment and poaching (of both Lions and their prey), and on the other, reduced income from smaller wildlife populations.

Two rules-of-thumb are widely used: a sustainable annual “harvest” is one Lion per 2,000km², and the annual management of a trophy hunt block costs around US$1,000 per km² . Together, they suggest it costs around two milLion dollars to “produce a Lion”. These numbers vary hugely between areas and, of course, trophy hunters shoot other species at the same time, but exceptional conditions are needed for the hunt companies to break even. At the same time, local communities living with wildlife are, understandably, demanding their fair share. The model starts to unravel and fall apart.

In Zambia and Tanzania, for example, 40% and 72% respectively of trophy hunting areas have been abandoned. Management costs are rising and private operators do not find it profitable any more, except in a handful of the best areas. This is not due to any outright ban but rather, the inability to balance of costs and benefits.

Across Africa, in the vast majority of cases, trophy hunting has not delivered more Lions – whether because of financial imbalances, increased terrorism, land mismanagement or increased livestock mobility (or a combination of these factors). This failure to deliver undermines the already contested justification for the continued killing of Lions by trophy hunters. And as the decline continues, many communities stand to lose a wildlife heritage that could, under a different approach to conservation, provide them with employment and stability.

Success stories?

Namibia and Botswana in southern Africa are often cited as models for conservation, which implies their experience could be replicated elsewhere. Trophy hunting has been presented as a success factor in these countries. But in reality, how instructive are the experiences of two large countries with a combined population of less than 5 milLion people for the other bilLion-plus Africans living in more densely populated areas?

Certainly, these two countries have a lot of wildlife – but is this due to the effects of trophy hunting, or to very low human population densities, diversified tourism industries and well-resourced wildlife institutions? In Botswana, trophy hunting was banned from 2014 to 2020, but despite abundant polemicising from both pro- and anti-hunting advocacy groups, I’m not aware of any evidence of a significant impact on its national Lion and elephant numbers. In short, Botswana’s conservation efforts will succeed with or without trophy hunting.

LION NUMBERS ARE HOLDING UP WELL IN BOTSWANA.

While southern Africa has, in general, been quite successful in keeping its wildlife species stable, this is also not always through natural processes. There has been a lot of habitat engineering and captive breeding, so that many of the animals you find in confined nature reserves are, in fact, bred and auctioned.

In South Africa, for example, around 8,000 Lions live in captivity for the benefit of a small number of rich owners, having been bred like livestock. This model does nothing to improve habitat or biodiversity levels, nor does it support rural socio-economic development. The country’s overall trophy hunting quota is around five wild Lions and 500 captive Lions each year, and while the US banned trophy imports from South Africa in 2016, most imported Lion trophies into the UK have been killed there.

Another issue for Africa as a whole is that biologists have flocked to southern Africa’s conservation hotspots such as the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa, which possess good infrastructure and lots of wildlife. As a result, there is an over-representation of people who have worked there among Africa’s community of conservation science, advocacy and practice. Many may never have worked outside southern Africa, and may not be aware of what is happening in the rest of the continent.

I’m not denying that some countries have been successful in their conservation efforts, and that trophy hunting has, in isolated cases, been part of that success. But the “if it pays, it stays” approach which seems to underpin many arguments in favour of trophy hunting has much more often led to the loss of natural ecosystems. This decay affects the vast majority of Lion ranges, and an even greater majority of African citizens.

The banning of trophy hunt imports in the UK and elsewhere can, I believe, help to reduce or even reverse this decline. The UK ban is supported by a large majority of British voters. France, the Netherlands and Australia have already banned Lion trophy imports, and the EU and US have restricted their imports. Since most clients want their trophy, that means significantly fewer potential clients overall, indirectly affecting Africa’s policy options.

The way forward

Throughout the continent, most policymakers stick to the prevailing narrative that trophy hunting supports conservation. In this way, a small white elite continues to have exclusive access to conservation areas that are off-limits for the average citizen to visit, or for public agencies to invest in. Trophy hunting is getting in the way of much-needed innovation and investment.

I agree with trophy hunters that the land they use is important habitat for Lions and their prey. No one wants these areas to spiral down. However, the current situation feels like that famous frog in boiling water story – countries in Africa are afraid to jump out until they no longer can.

HANS BAUER ASSISTING AUTHORITIES TO MOVE A CONFISCATED LION CUB IN ETHIOPIA

The largest and most important conservation area in West Africa is the 25,000km² W-Arly-Pendjari (WAP) region, on the boundary between Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. With around 400 Lions, it is the only three-digit Lion population in West Africa, and it also possesses the largest West African populations of elephant and buffalo.

Half of WAP’s land is managed for trophy hunting. Yet over 20 years, these blocks have contributed less than 1% of the region’s total conservation budget. Much of the area is now increasingly threatened by terrorist incursions and large parts have been abandoned, including the hunting blocks.

In Benin, however, the situation is changing. Lion trophy hunting has been ditched and a trust fund established that promises to fund the country’s conservation activities in perpetuity. While mainly funded by Benin and German government agencies, the fund has an independent international structure and several other donors have contributed. The park’s management, now delegated to a non-profit organisation, is striving to improve local livelihoods by generating employment and offering support for community initiatives that do not harm the local wildlife.

Of course, we should not expect wildlife to fix poverty and instability where 50 years of development work have been unsuccessful. But I visit Benin every year and where I used to find a dozen friendly but unorganised staff, I now see hundreds of local people trained, employed and proud. In the past, some children might have gone to school reluctant to learn things they would not need as subsistence farmers. After visiting the park, however, I see signs that they want to learn skills and compete for career options their parents did not have.

Another glimpse of a better future can be seen in Akagera National Park, Rwanda, which was completely depleted in the 1980s and 1990s. Rwanda is the only country in Africa with a population density higher than India’s. It is a country facing a huge number of challenges, yet Akagera is a conservation success story. Following an initial investment in the area’s recovery, it is now breaking even through ecotourism with primarily Rwandan visitors. While this cannot be expected to work everywhere, it has worked in this most unlikely of places.

The true cost of saving African Lions, and their prey and habitats, is estimated to be around US$1bilLion per year. With such funding, Africa could quadruple its Lion numbers up to 100,000 without creating any new protected areas. At the moment, Lions exist at only about a quarter of their ranges’ full capacities. Funding and community engagement are both critical to increasing this figure.

Ultimately, international solidarity is a much more substantial, and sustainable, source of funding than trophy hunting. Our approach to the extinction crisis should be similar to the one for climate: biodiversity justice as well as climate justice. The 2021 COP26 climate summit in Glasgow discussed the proposed annual fund of US$100 bilLion to help less wealthy nations adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. A similar fund for supporting global biodiversity will be proposed at the COP15 summit in Montreal in December 2023. A bilLion dollars for Africa’s Lions and other wildlife may sound unrealistic, but in the arena of international policy, it should not really be a problem.

African nations are sovereign, and hold the key to the future of the Lion. Some may be keen to retain trophy hunting – but they know that demand is shrinking as UK politicians are the latest to respond to the concerns of their constituents.

Above all, the trophy hunting debate is divisive, draining energy from conservationists in Africa and around the world who agree on most other issues. Now is surely the time to focus our efforts on far better alternatives for the conservation of Lions and other endangered species.

Remember those two Lions in Maze National Park? They are part of a small population which has the park as its core area, but which roam the entire landscape in that part of southern Ethiopia. Sometimes a few Lions make it across to the next park for some welcome genetic exchange. Maze’s head warden has lots of rangers to assist in monitoring them, but only one motorbike. There is no hotel for hours around, no fuel station, no media. He does not need trophy hunters, he needs a car.

As told by Hans Bauer, Research fellow at Northern Lion Conservation, University of Oxford.

PROTECT ALL WILDLIFE

We believe EVERY animal should be treated with respect, empathy, and understanding. We raise awareness to protect and conserve wild, captive, companion and farm animals. It is vital that we protect animals against acts of cruelty, abuse, and neglect by enforcing established animal welfare laws and, when necessary, take action to ensure that those who abuse animals are brought to justice.

Protect All Wildlife are involved in many projects to protect animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats. Money contributed to Protect All Wildlife supports ALL of our worthy programmes and gives us the flexibility to respond to emerging needs. Your donations make our work possible

What Trophy Hunting Does To The Elephants It Leaves Behind

Trophy Hunters Slaughter An Elephant In Zimbabwe

There was outrage when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the remains of Elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia could now be legally imported to the United States as trophies.

This new policy overturned a ban put in place by the Obama administration in 2014. African Elephants are considered “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, a step below being endangered. The animals’ numbers have plunged from around 10 million 100 years ago to around 400,000 today, largely because of poaching and habitat loss. The Fish and Wildlife Service has not changed the Elephants’ status; instead, it now argues that supporting “legal, well-managed hunting programs” will help provide “much-needed conservation dollars to preserve habitats and protect wild herds” in Zimbabwe and Zambia, the agency’s principal deputy director, Greg Sheehan, said in a news release.

But then, to further complicate matters, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday evening that nothing would actually change until he “reviews all conservation facts.”

The idea that killing more elephants will help save the species is counterintuitive, and its line of reasoning is difficult for many conservation organizations to support: Let rich hunters pay hefty sums to shoot elephants, and use the money to help conservation efforts and local communities. Supposedly, the villagers won’t then need to poach elephants to feed their families and pay their kids’ school fees. Still, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, a respected organization that sets the conservation status for all species, supports the notion.

But the evidence that “hunting elephants saves them” is thin. The hunting-safari business employs few people, and the money from fees that trickles down to the villagers is insignificant. A 2009 report from the IUCN revealed that sport hunting in West Africa does not provide significant benefits to the surrounding communities. A more recent report by an Australian economic-analysis firm for Humane Society International found that trophy hunting amounts to less than 2 percent of tourism revenue in eight African countries that permit it.

And then, there is a larger moral question: How does hunting affect male elephants, especially the “big tuskers” that hunters want, and the overall population?

If elephants are recognized as legal persons, a term the U.S. courts have granted corporations, it would be more difficult to hunt them at all—let alone import their body parts. Wise’s lawsuit cites extensive scientific studies that have established elephants’ cognitive abilities, emotional and empathetic natures, complex social lives, lifelong learning, and memory skills. “Taken together, the research makes it clear elephants are autonomous beings who have the capacity to choose how to live their lives as elephants,” he tells me.

German Trophy Hunter Rainer Schoerr Proudly Poses With One Of The Biggest ‘Tuskers’ Ever Slaughtered In Zimbabe

One thing elephants would not choose, Wise and elephant researchers agree, is to be hunted. “It doesn’t matter to elephants if they are killed by poachers or trophy hunters,” says Joyce Poole, who has studied African elephants in the wild in Kenya and Mozambique for more than 40 years and is the codirector of ElephantVoices, a conservation organization. “Either way, you’re a killer. And if elephants understand that about you, they change their behavior.”

Elephants aren’t considered game animals in most African countries with substantial populations of these animals. But trophy hunters after large male elephants can seek their prey in South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Gabon, and Mozambique. Kenya banned the sport in 1973, while Tanzania continued to permit legal hunting. That caused problems for the elephants of Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, says Poole, who was studying the large males in the park at the time. The park borders Tanzania, and after the Tanzanian government opened a hunting block on the opposite side, the Amboseli male elephants who wandered across became prized targets.

“It was an awful time,” Poole recalled, “because on one side, the elephants learned to trust tourists—generally white people—in cars. From our studies, we know they can smell the difference between whites and local people. They also distinguish us by our languages. They know people who speak Maa, the language of the local Maasai people, may throw spears at them; those who speak English don’t.” However, the tables were turned on the Tanzanian side of the border. There, white people in cars who drove up close to see an elephant might lean out with a camera—or a rifle.

“The elephants didn’t run because they didn’t expect to be shot,” Poole said. Two of the large males she was studying were lost this way to trophy hunters. She and others protested to the Tanzanian government, and these particular hunting blocks were eventually closed.

Poole does not know how the loss of these big males, who’d fathered many calves, affected the other elephants. Female elephants, though, do mourn family members who die, and are especially troubled when the matriarch, their leader, passes. In 2003, for instance, researchers in Kenya’s Samburu National Reserve watched as Eleanor, an elephant family’s matriarch, died from natural causes. When Eleanor fell heavily to the ground, Grace, a matriarch from another family, used her tusks to lift her friend and helped her to her feet. Despite Grace’s efforts, Eleanor died that night. She had a tiny, six-month-old calf who never left her side. In a photograph, the calf stands like a small sentinel beside her mother’s body, while the rest of the family bunches together, grieving.

Researchers have rarely seen similar moments among male elephants, who as adults, live away from the female herds they grew up in, and return only to mate. That behavior led to a “myth that males are far less social than females,” said George Wittemyer, a conservation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins who has studied elephants in Kenya for more than 20 years. His new research contradicts this notion. “Actually, the males are always in groups and have preferences for certain companions. They’re not the loners they’ve been made out to be,” he said.

“The death of a bull will cause less disruption than the death of a family member,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, a zoologist who founded the organization Save the Elephants. “If a bull is shot while associating with a family the others will normally run away.” But he noted: “Bulls will defend or help each other sometimes, when one is down.”

From a population standpoint, “older male elephants are very important to the health and genetic vitality of a population,” said Cynthia Moss, who has led the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya since 1972. While hunters in the past have used the belief that older males are reproductively senile as an argument for killing them for their ivory, research has revealed that they are in fact an elephant population’s primary breeders. “By living to an older age, [older males show that] they have the traits for longevity and good health to pass on to their offspring,” Moss said. “Killing these males compromises the next generation of the population.”

It’s not clear if the Fish and Wildlife Service will consider how trophy hunting affects individual elephants or their families. The agency didn’t comment on Trump’s tweet when contacted, but later issued a public statement confirming that permits would be put on hold. “President Trump and I have talked and both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in the statement.

Wise believes that the emotional and psychological suffering the elephants endure from this sport is obvious. “One day it will be seen for the moral outrage that it is,” he said.