It may be a difficult concept for animal-lovers to accept, but a recent study has shown that trophy hunting may actually help preserve existing lion populations in Tanzania.
Although it may seem strange, wildlife organizations can actually be helped through the practice of hunting. Not only does well-regulated hunting serve to keep the population of a species in check, the amount that hunters spend on licensing and other contributions necessary for participation can provide a valuable financial contribution used to help preserve animals and their habitats. In order to be eligible to hunt, many areas have strict mandates and licensing qualifications that must be followed in order for a limited number of hunters to participate in the sport. The contributions that sportsmen and women make amount to nearly $8 million every day for wildlife and wildlife agencies.
This particular study focused on Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve, which is divided into blocks of protected areas. Each block is managed by a different company. It was found that those blocks under long-term management were more likely to use sustainable practices to maintain proper hunting levels in order to conserve the species. Lion populations thrive in large areas of land, which means that regulated hunting can actually help maintain the overall habitat. Those blocks under short-term management tended to have over-hunted lion populations.
However, the authors of the study suggest that the Tanzanian government could take additional steps to preserve the lion population — while managing to make the same amount of money in the process. Currently, the government sells these blocks of preservation land for an inexpensive price, but sets high hunting quotas and charges a steep fee for every trophy animal shot. This practice encourages those with short-term blocks of land to hunt more lions. Instead, the authors propose that the government increase the original block fees while reducing the quota and fees for shot animals. This would provide the same amount of tax revenue and have a better effect on long-term sustainability, as it would remove some of the temptation to kill more lions.
Although mismanaged or unregulated hunting of animal populations can have dire consequences, there are certain situations where these actions can actually help a species survive.