Tanzanian wildlife officials are partnering with the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) to teach hunting guides how to field-judge and age African lions. Science shows that hunting older male lions has no long-term effect on the sustainability of lion populations.
A special seminar, featuring top lion researchers, outfitters and other stakeholders, will be held in Arusha before the start of the next hunting season.
Through education, the partners hope to encourage a more selective harvest. That, in turn, could bolster both the numbers of lions and lion hunters – as well as the overall economic benefits that legal hunting brings to Tanzania.
Lazaro Nyalandu, minister of Tanzania Natural Resources and Tourism, selected DSC to coordinate and host the seminar.
“The express purpose is teaching guides to better recognize age characteristics of lions, which can differ by region and even by habitat type,” said Ben Carter, DSC executive director. “Better-informed guides will translate to better hunter compliance with science-based regulations that promote harvest of older, fully mature, non-pride lions.”
Tanzania was the first country to implement a six-year minimum age for exporting lion trophies. A 2013 amendment to that law allows the export of younger specimens, but creates a graduated penalty system for shooting lions less than six.
In 2013, DSC began broadly promoting the ideal huntable male lion as “at least six years of age and not known to head a pride or be part of a coalition heading a pride with dependent cubs.” More than 70 major safari operators and industry leaders pledged support. So did the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation.
Educational seminars are the logical next step, says Carter.
“Minister Nyalandu is new to his position and we’re impressed by his strong conservation ethic, vision and knowledgeable support of sustainable hunting,” he said.
DSC has long funded and supported scientific research on African lions. Understanding population dynamics is one of many projects supported by DSC grants to advance conservation, education and hunter advocacy worldwide.
Steve Wagner, Blue Heron Communications, 800-654-3766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Logo courtesy Dallas Safari Club