Lion trophy hunting: The death of Xanda in Zimbabwe

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The death of Cecil’s son, Xanda at the hands of trophy hunters on 7 July is mired in confusion. He was shot just outside Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, near the spot his father had been killed by American bow hunting dentist, Walter Palmer.

It was claimed that Xanda was shot legally as part of an approved quota – seven lions are allowed to be hunted per year in the area outside the park. Yet, like the death of his father, questions have been raised surrounding the circumstances of Xanda’s death. The lion just six years old was considered fair game however, he had a GPS collar and was the head of a pride with several cubs that resided within the protection of the national park that prohibits hunting.

A statement released by the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association stated that Xanda had been ousted from his pride and had moved permanently out of the park. However, this is contradicted by researchers from the University of Oxford who had been tracking Xanda, and say that the six-year old lion was the head of his own pride consisting of three lionesses and had seven young cubs between 12 and 18 months old.

It also seems clear that Xanda’s killing contravenes the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority policy, which states that male lions of any age known to be heading prides or known to be part of a coalition heading prides with dependent cubs of 18 months old or less, should not be hunted. Neither should any lion fitted with a collar.

As a result, Humane Society International (HSI), has sent a letter to Oppah Muchinguri, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe, calling on her government to investigate these irregularities.

Audrey Delsink, Executive Director of Humane Society International/Africa, said: “With so many irregularities shrouding the killing of Xanda, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to hold the people involved in his death accountable if they are found to have acted in an illegal manner.”

The death of Xanda also means that his seven offspring face an unlikely future. “Sadly, Xanda’s death means his cubs are vulnerable to infanticide leading to further unnecessary loss of animals already threatened with extinction,” says Delsink.

Currently, there are fewer than 30,000 lions left in Africa whose range has been reduced to 8 percent of their former range primarily as a result from loss of habitat, poaching and poorly regulated trophy hunting. A report conducted by Economists at Large found that trophy hunting is not economically significant in African countries, with the total economic contribution of trophy hunters at most estimated at 0.03 percent of gross domestic product in the countries studied.

Delsink says this latest incident in Zimbabwe “just highlights further the destructive nature of the trophy hunting industry. At minimum, Zimbabwe must conduct a full investigation and not allow Xanda’s remains to leave the country as a trophy.”

The HSI letter has also requested that Zimbabwe officials bring legal action against the trophy hunters if warranted, prevent the export of the trophy and establish a five-kilometer no-hunting zone around Hwange National Park.

  • I.P.A. Manning

    If it were only as simple as Cruise makes out. Safari hunting is important to a number of African countries, for a number of reasons going beyond pure economics, be it SCI’s view, or that of HSI. As I wrote in my forthcoming book, Guardians of Eden:

    In November 2015 Safari Club International, which represents most American hunting safari clients who make up three-quarters of the clients that hunt Africa, published a commissioned report by Southwick on safari hunting covering eight countries, one of them being Zambia. A two-year study, it set out to fully reveal the economic importance of hunting to conservation in Africa, concluding that, ‘For the eight nations examined, $326.5 million was spent by hunters annually between 2012 and 2014’. But, in contrast, they also quoted from an IUCN study of 2012 which suggested that safari hunting in Africa only brings in about $34m a year.

    The anti-hunting organization, Humane Society International (HIS), then employed Australian economic consultants to assess the report, publishing their report just prior to the SCI annual meeting in the USA in February 2017. The timing, and the fact that HIS are anti-hunters of note, would suggest that the author, Murray, of Economists at Large, might not be wholly objective, as with Southwick of the SCI report. Murray (EAL) concluded that:

    With minor exceptions, the causal link SCI claims simply does not exist. A well-regulated system is required for trophy hunting to be sustainable. For example, it must be void of corruption, offer accurate and regular monitoring of populations, ensures that hunting quotas are based on science, be properly regulated and enforced, etc. Given the complex political climates of many of the eight study countries – some of which are in fact extremely corrupt, lack accurate population monitoring, base quotas on factors other than science, ignore age restrictions for hunted animals, and allow hunting to disrupt social stability in animal groups – this perfect operating system is unattainable and therefore sustainability cannot be ensured. This presents clear evidence against SCI’s conservation equation view. Southwick’s (2015) findings that just an estimated 6 to 9% of economic benefits are potentially available to be directed towards conservation similarly undermines that view.

    However Southwick and HIS only deal with the economic benefits of hunting safaris, the former inflating the issue because it is what SCI so fervently wish to prove, the latter deflating the issue, on the pure basis, I hoped, of measurable economics – let alone the fact that the paymaster is the sworn enemy of hunting. Yes, their masters occupy different camps and points of view, but it is objective economics we are dealing with, or so I thought, until I read HIS’s international trade policy specialist, Masha Kalinina’s, statement: ‘It’s time to stop pretending that slaughtering big game and posing for morbid selfies by their slain bodies is anything more than killing for kicks’. In one muddied sentence science and economics is kicked into touch, revealing a player on the HIS team not abiding by the rules of advocacy. Thus both Southwick and HIS’s work achieves nothing constructive. This is a great pity.

    However, IUCN in 2017 weighed in with an objective view:

    Although there is a pressing need for the reform of hunting governance and practice in many countries, calls for blanket restrictions on trophy hunting assume that it is uniformly detrimental to conservation; such calls are frequently made based on poor information and inaccurate assumptions. Here we explain how trophy hunting, if well managed, can play a positive role in supporting conservation as well as local community rights and livelihoods, and we provide examples from various parts of the world. We highlight the likely impact of blanket bans on trophy hunting and argue for a more nuanced approach to much needed reform.

    The article is clear and balanced, making no bones about the negative impacts of a ban on safari hunting by the removal of conservation incentives. Yet, this applies mainly to the private sector investment in game ranches and conservancies. The problem lies in the customary commons where villagers are not empowered and do not reap benefits.

    In an article citing 280 peer-reviewed articles and government reports the wildlife management strategies of North America and Southern Africa (hunting) are compared with India and Kenya (no-hunting) based on whether they sustained or increased wildlife populations, generated high revenue compared to costs, and provided benefits to people living in and around the hunting areas. The hunting countries greatly overshadowed the performance of the non-hunting nations.
    …………………………………

    The Economic Contributions of Hunting-Related Tourism in Eastern and Southern Africa. Southwick Associates, for Safari Club International Foundation. November, 2015. Web. 15 April 2017.
    http://safariclubfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Southwick-Associates-2015_FINAL.pdf
    Murray, C. K. 2017. The lion’s share? On the economic benefits of trophy hunting. A report for the Humane Society International, prepared by Economists at Large, Melbourne, Australia. Web. 15 April 2017.
    https://conservationaction.co.za/wpcontent/uploads/2017/02/Economists_at_Large_Lions_Share_Trophy_Hunting_Report_2017.pdf
    Gaworecki, Mike. Trophy hunters overstate contribution of big game hunting to African economies: report. Mongabay. 10 February 2017. Web. 15 April 2017 https://news.mongabay.com/2017/02/trophy-hunters-overstate-contribution-of-big-game-hunting-to-african-economies-report/
    IUCN. (Cooney, R. et al.) “The baby and the bathwater: trophy hunting, conservation and rural livelihoods.” Unasylva (FAO) Volume 68. N.p., 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017. .
    Pack, Shalynn. et al. “Comparison of national wildlife management strategies: what works where, and why?” Academia.edu. Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and Environment, n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017. .

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