A CONSERVATION GROUP in Zimbabwe has been criticised for running a lion trophy raffle.
Bubye Valley Conservancy (BVC), which has links to Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), is offering hunters the chance to kill a lion for $1,500 (€1,380).
The winner of the raffle, entitled ‘Win a lion!’, will get an 18-day lion safari with a “full lion trophy hunt”.
Funds from the raffle are due to be spent on “cutting-edge lion research”. The winner will be announced at the Safari Club International show in Las Vegas on 5 February.
WildCRU head Professor David McDonald told the Mail on Sunday: “This initiative is nothing to do with me and I have heard nothing about it until now.
I would not personally accept funds to my unit based on raffling a lion hunt, but what the Bubye Valley Conservancy decides to do is completely up to them.
A non-hunting photographic safari for two people is also on offer as an alternative prize. This option would lead to one male lion would be collared for research and removed from the hunting quota.
BVC said the raffle should “appeal to all outdoor enthusiasts, whether hunter or not”. There are 100 tickets on offer.
‘What do you do with excess lions?’
The group said nearly 500 lions now roam the conservancy, well up from the 17 animals present in 1999, adding that this is “is of concern to management and conservationists alike”.
“What do you do with excess lions?
There is no space left in Africa for them; everywhere that can have lions already does, and their greatest threat is habitat destruction and intolerance by local communities that encroach on wildlife areas in competition for grazing with the natural prey of lions, and subsequently persecute them in retaliation for killing livestock.
“And, despite the sensation, responsible trophy hunting cannot significantly affect lion population density or long-term persistence – which is really the definition of sustainable resource management.”
UK charity LionAid, said it is “shocked and appalled” by the raffle and called on WildCRU to “reconsider their response to this raffle and publicly condemn it”.
Last year there was an international outcry after a dentist from Minnesota allegedly paid $50,000 (€45,000) to kill Cecil, a famous Zimbabwean lion. A bid to press charges against Walter Palmer were abandoned as his papers “were in order” and Zibabwean officials said he did not know he was committing any offence.