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Zambia Bans Lion and Leopard Hunting

Zambia recently (Jan 2013) announced that it was banning the sport hunting of lions and leopards because of the rapid decline in its population of big cats.

Zambia's tourism minister Sylvia Masebo said there was more value in game-viewing tourism than hunting which brought in just $3m last year (2012) compared to $125 million in tourism revenue in 2010. Minister Masebo said the country did not have enough cats for hunting purposes and asked "Why should we lose our animals for £2 million a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher."

In contrast Chuma Simukonda from the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) expressed the concern that the ban would be bad for tourism and that revenue would be lots from the hunting permits. Hunting of the two big cats will still be allowed on will be permitted on private game-ranches holding valid operating permits.

There seems to be confusion about the time period involved, with some sources stating that the suspension will only last through 2013. Others have suggested that the cancellation will extend for five years in order to allow a thorough review of the hunting industry and the role it plays in Zambia. Sources have also indicated that the authorities are in serious discussions with outside wildlife bodies, with a view to them playing a more significant role in managing Zambia’s parks and reserves.

These actions come just 14 months after the previous board of the Zambian Wildlife Authority was dissolved by the newly elected president, Michael Sata, and indicate that Zambia has still not rid itself of the cartels that are rumoured to have dominated hunting in that country for decades.

About 55 cats were killed by hunters in 2012. There are thought to be no more than about 4,500 total remaining lions in Zambia, the number of leopards is unknown.

Neighboring Botswana is banning all sport hunting from 2014, while Kenya halted hunting for sport decades ago.

Sources: BBC News, Daily Mail, Africa Geographic Blog

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