Author: Chris Mfula
Zambia has banned the
hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats such as leopards because it
sees more value in game viewing tourism than blood sport, the country's
tourism minister said on Thursday.
Sylvia Masebo told Reuters big cat
numbers were also too low to have a sustainable hunting industry.
"Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be
killing our tourism industry," Masebo said.
The estimated $3 million
that Zambia earned from safari hunting of all its wild animals annually was
too little to merit the continued depletion of Zambia's wildlife, she said.
"Why should we lose our animals for $3 million a year? The benefits we
get from tourist visits are much higher," she said.
population for the sprawling southern African country is not known while
lion numbers are not believed to exceed around 4,500.
Africa's lion population vary from around 20,000 to 30,000, according to the
International Union for Conservation of Nature, and is falling in the face
of numerous threats including conflict with livestock farmers and loss of
prey and habitat.
Zambia's moves follow neighboring Botswana's
decision to ban all sport hunting from 2014 as it also works to promote
itself as a game viewing destination.
Wildlife-rich Kenya set this
trend when it halted trophy and sport hunting decades ago.
leopards are the feline pair of the so-called "Big 5" group of dangerous
African animals coveted by some trophy hunters. The others are elephant,
rhino and Cape buffalo.
But there are growing concerns about Africa's
big animals in the face of a surge in poaching of elephants for their ivory
and rhino in South Africa for their horns to meet soaring demand from Asian
In a separate development, Zambia last week suspended 19
hunting concessions and fired the top management at the Zambia Wildlife
Authority because of corruption allegations and a lack of transparency.