Zambia today has banned the hunting of lions and other big cats such as leopards as the number of these majestic beast slump. Tourist Minister Sylvia Masebo has announced that the value of living lions to the tourist industry is much more important than the money gained from selling trophy hunts.
In a growing movement across African countries hunting is seen as no longer being a viable option if countries want to profit from their wildlife. Looking after lions and protecting them is a much more sustainable way of benefiting from a nations natural heritage. [pullquote]Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry.[/pullquote]
“Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry,” Masebo said.
It is estimated that the hunting industry contributes just USD 3 million to the Zambian economy each year. Masebo does not view this as being sufficient to put the country’s wildlife at risk and without the wildlife the non-hunting safari tourists will not turn up.
“Why should we lose our animals for $3 million a year? The benefits we get from tourist visits are much higher,” she said.
It’s not just the lion that is to be protected from hunters in Zambia, the announcement also included the leopard which is also seeing substantial drops in number in recent years.
With the African lion numbers thought to be under 30,000 and dwindling fast this move by Zambia to join other countries such as Botswana and Kenya in banning hunting will be a big step in the conservation of this big cat.
Update: 11th January 2013: The ban on hunting lions and big cats in Zambia has now been extended to ban all commercial hunting of all wildlife species.