In an ironic result of the controversial killing last year of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe, the country’s largest wildlife area has said it may have to relocate or even kill up to 200 lions.
The reason given by officials at the Bubye Valley Conservancy are that too few hunters have traveled to the park for expensive hunts.
They call it the “Cecil effect” following widespread condemnation of the hunt by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. As a result the park now has more than 500 lions, which it says are too many for the amount of habitat.
One official made a public plea for any sanctuaries worldwide who might be able to ensure their protection.
“If anyone knows of a suitable habitat for them where they will not land up in human conflict, or in wildlife areas where they will not be beaten up because of existing prides, please let us know and help us raise the money to move them,” Blondie Leathem, general manager of Bubye Valley Conservancy, told The Telegraph.
But officials with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were incensed by the conservancy’s point of view, calling into question the logic of thinning an already threatened species.
They said wildlife herds can effectively thin out their own ranks naturally and that the park should have never relied on trophy hunting to support itself in the first place.
“It is the captive-breeding programmes designed to give tourists photo ops with lion cubs, who are turned into shooting targets when they grow up, that need to be culled, not lions.” PETA’s Director Mimi Bekhechi told the Huffington Post UK.
Even a group of sport hunters condemned the practice of half-tame lion hunts last year.
Photo credit: Flickr CC