Data on lion hunting (Cecil fact of the day)

Killing lions right outside of park boundaries seems like a systemic problem, not just a one-off instance:

Between 1999 and 2004 we undertook an ecological study of African lions (Panthera leo) in Hwange National Park, western Zimbabwe to measure the impact of sport-hunting beyond the park on the lion population within the park, using radio-telemetry and direct observation. 34 of 62 tagged lions died during the study (of which 24 were shot by sport hunters: 13 adult males, 5 adult females, 6 sub-adult males). Sport hunters in the safari areas surrounding the park killed 72% of tagged adult males from the study area. Over 30% of all males shot were sub-adult (<4 years). Hunting off-take of male lions doubled during 2001-2003 compared to levels in the three preceding years, which caused a decline in numbers of adult males in the population (from an adult sex ratio of 1:3 to 1:6 in favour of adult females). Home ranges made vacant by removal of adult males were filled by immigration of males from the park core. Infanticide was observed when new males entered prides. The proportion of male cubs increased between 1999 and 2004, which may have occurred to compensate for high adult male mortality.

The 2007 paper is here (pdf), by Loveridge, Searle, Murindagamo, and MacDonald, via Hollis Robbins.


Cowen's second law strikes again!

My understanding is that the data is pretty clear that for countries (or regions) that allow hunting of endangered or threatened animals generally have healthier populations than those that don't. Notice the implicit acknowledgement of this in the quote from the article:

"“You have to decide what conservation is,” Chris Mercer with the Campaign Against Canned Hunting told National Geographic. “You can’t just look at numbers of animals."

Moving the goalposts, yet again.

If you define a healthy population by the literal number of animals, then perhaps it is true that countries that allow hunting have healthier populations, but that's extremely simplistic.

Hunters are targeting the best specimens, and while they can be replaced by other, weaker males, it dilutes the overall gene pool. Those weaker males may be less adept at hunting or more vulnerable to disease, and they're passing those weaker genes on to future populations. So while you may have a larger population in the short run, a species will simultaneously be more vulnerable to extinction in the long run.

Its not that the goalposts moved, you just never knew where they were.

Hunters are targeting the best specimens, and while they can be replaced by other, weaker males, it dilutes the overall gene pool.

Nope. Actually, hunters don't target the best specimens, they typically target the most mature specimens. What happens, in the real world, is that as primary males age, they get less fertile and the quality of their offspring declines. Hence, careful culling more mature animals yields not only higher birth rates, but also better genetic diversity. This has been a pretty well established dynamic in wildlife population management for many decades, and properly controlled hunting is a critical element of wildlife management.

Even in the case of culled males, there is typically competition over the new primary male, so your dynamic of evolutionary strength still occurs.

As I mentioned earlier, the data on the role of hunting in conservation is pretty well established by this point, and it is as a result of this that you have seen environmentalists over the past decade start to disdain "charismatic macro-fauna" in their desperate attempt to change the subject in arguments that they have already lost. Not to mention that nothing smacks of the hetero-normative capitalist patriarchy than hunting (if you check the full quote, it reeks of anti-capitalist sentiment). So, you see this same goal-post moving in the above quote, that looks to create new definitions of ecologically relevant statics for modern environmentalism.

Who's carefully culling? That's not what happens in trophy hunting or poaching, which is how most of these animals are killed.

If you believe there is careful culling going on, you're either gullible or foolish. 11 of 24 lions killed were either female or sub adult males, which shows that careful culling of older males isn't actually occuring.

I stopped reading everything after that.

Tim, when you get a hunting tag, it will be specific to the sex of the animal. Jan, as I mentioned above, the incentives of a hunter and the conservationists align-- hunters don't want a "young" animal, and will typically pass on several shots I search for a proper trophy.

Seriously, he full text of the article is available at the link above. From the introduction: Sport or safari hunting of wildlife is often considered a nec- essary part of wildlife conservation and management and has been a driving force in conservation since the early 20th Cen- tury (Adams, 2004). It can be a conservation tool that brings rev- enue to biodiversity rich states, provides justification for protection of wildlife habitats (Loveridge et al., 2006) and has been responsible for many species recoveries.

The study showed 30% of males culled/killed/ hunted were less than 4 years old (the most mature specimens!). I suppose they are beyond mating and the quality of their offspring would decline? Whose lost the argument? I think the likes of you have. If trophy hunting is so wonderful, why are black-maned lions so rare, together with 40" sable, 70 pounder elephants and the list goes on. Hunting is okay if the predators have gone and the rest over populate resulting in disease and starvation.

Wonder if the sport hunting raised any money for the conservation area? And how much. Seems there would probably be an optimal balance to maximize conservation dollars, and the lions lives.

The reaction to that lion being killed, even if the methods turn out to be illegal, seems overblown to me.

In what way overblown? I felt legitimate rage when I read about it, having been in Kruger and seen lions in the wild. Also, not exactly soft on animals, grew up on a cattle farm, love meat etc, but killing endangered apex predators is terrible behaviour.

In what way overblown? I felt legitimate rage when I read about it, ... killing endangered apex predators is terrible behaviour.

Killing endangered apex predators is terrible behaviour, but selling parts of aborted babies for profit is not disturbing in the slightest.

Sexual liberty is of utmost importance, so abortion cannot possibly be discouraged or even felt to be disturbing. And once a late-term abortion is happening, there's no reason to refrain from using the organs for research purposes. And once that's happening, there's no reason not to make money off the transaction.

Conservatives who make a big deal out of the planned parenthood videos have an antiquated notion of human sanctity. Actually, no, forget that .... they are evil and stupid and want to go back to the days of coathangers, blatant sexism and racism. Yeah that's the ticket.

26 people, including a 2 year old, were blown up in Nigeria on July 6 and 60 more on July 17.

Did you feel rage about that?

How many children in Zimbabwe die because of Mugabe's "management" of the economy?

Do you feel rage about that?

@Turing and Bob: You guys are being embarrassing and ridiculous. If an American dentist was going over and paying to have kids aborted or to shoot Nigerian people, his Yelp page would also be blowing up right now.

I'm about as libertarian in constitution as anyone, and this kind of story makes me sick. We'd need a lot less government if it weren't for the stupid impulses of people like this dentist.

And as long as we're making it political, it's fantastic how conservatives can find outrage about a black kid stealing a candy bar, but excuse a rich white guy for paying his way around laws to take a trophy lion home. Seriously, think long and hard about if this is you, and how much you suck as a result.

Dude, you fail hard at the libertarian Turing test.
"I’m about as libertarian in constitution as anyone..." Right... LOL.

@Jim: It's somewhat overstated but not terribly. Anyway strike that line...I definitely don't want to be a pissing contest of libertarianism. You win.

..."be in", pardon

"@Turing and Bob: You guys are being embarrassing and ridiculous" - of course, how sadly predictable is it that "you do it too!" pops up? Never mind that it isn't really "you" or "it."

It's just a gut response low on the scale of moral development, and low in IQ.

“I’m about as libertarian in constitution as anyone" - if you believe in genetics you have to believe that all social animals (man included) would have a genetic bias for group survival. It wouild vary with the individual of course, and in nature variation is probably itself good for group survival. Tribes make it through with rebels and team-builders.

Now, the weird thing about modern society, especially reddit, is that outliers (libertarians and psychopaths) can more easily "flock" and think of themselves as a viable population, even if they are not.

Who is excusing anybody? Its a matter of perspective.

Its a wild animal. Giving it a name does not make it special.

He is feeling "legitimate rage" over an animal that he did not know existed until it was killed. Just pointing out why he, and the internet lynch mob in general, is in fact way "overblown" in its reaction, as Regular guy pointed out.

@John: I would agree. Perhaps I don't equate libertarian to antisocial or anti-society as others might; social pressure is preferable to state coercion.

@Bob: You wouldn't argue there's a degree of indifference/excuse from the right. Read this board for a moderate version. Also, the dentist himself knew the abhorrent nature of his hobby, as his site mentioned only his love of nature and his pursuit of any time he could spend "photographing" animals. (What a dick!) The lion's head wasn't going in his dentist's office; it was going in a parlor room where other shooters from the tiny-dick brigade could gather round and pat him on the back.

My understanding is the guy thought the hunt was perfectly legal, so it's really the Zimbabwean guides who the rage should be directed towards. Unless you believe that trophy hunting should be completely banned.

@Anon. It's a natural feeling now. Probably it wasn't in the past. People used to be incredibly cruel to animals . They would burn cats and watch bear baiting for entertainment. Elizabeth 1 Queen of England used to be amused by such things. We have changed on how we feel about these things.

Douglas Adams wrote a book called "Last Chance to See" based on the pessimistic idea that much is going away, so see it while you can. I think many people put African game reserves in the "Last Chance to See" category, with a desperate hope that this isn't, really, the last chance. So when "Cecil the lion" is killed, it strikes a the "named animal" thing, but also the desperate hope that it isn't all going away. At least that's where I think the "rage" comes from, not that I feel it that way. I look at "Last Chance to See" as more an ongoing tragedy, but certainly not the only tragedy on the planet.

Ah, I did not realise that rage was a zero sum game. I feel rage about terrorism, starving children etc... Does my rage check out? Now allowed to feel rage about the killing of Cecil? What are your emotions?

Is there evidence that rage is a limited resource?

If terrorists were as visible as the lion hunter you can be sure rage would be flowing. Visible means having a face, name, business web site and photos where you show your victories all around the web.

I remember, those decapitation videos from last year produced all the rage you are asking for. So the fail is in how we humans are. We like images, words don't yield emotion even if the message is terrible.

@Bob, It's only overblown because you don't care about it. It's not overblown to me. It's a natural human feeling to not want wildlife destroyed to be displayed on a wall as a trophy.
I have never hunted and I have never wanted to. I don't understand what pleasure there could be in it.
As to other comments, yes there are other things to be even more outraged about but we're talking about this one, so stop mentioning all the evils in the world we are not up in arms about at this moment.
And another thing; I doubt his $50,000 fee went for conservation, Zimbabwe is in the bottom 20 countries on the corruption index

"It’s a natural human feeling to not want wildlife destroyed to be displayed on a wall as a trophy. I have never hunted and I have never wanted to."

To the contrary, this is about as unnatural as a human feeling can get.

"natural human feeling to not want wildlife destroyed to be displayed on a wall as a trophy"

Its a modern feeling and certainly not universal.

First, the whole concept of trophy hunting is very recent. When did Whites start going into the interior of Africa and hunt for sport. 125 years ago?

There was no widespread opposition to trophy hunting (or hunting in general) until very recently. Teddy Roosevelt was lauded for his big game hunting.

Until the 20th century, there was no mass moral opposition to hunting. We slaughtered the buffalo and the passenger pigeon and few cared.

> natural human feeling to not want wildlife destroyed to be displayed on a wall as a trophy

This reminds me of that episode where the French policeman doesn't care that Bart Simpson had been kidnapped ("Anti-freeze in the wine? That is a very serious crime!").

The people are seething with rage over this are often the same people who can't really be bothered to think about stuff like what Iran will do once it has nuclear weapons.

It's as if people are speaking 2 totally different languages.

I have never hunted and I have never wanted to. I don’t understand what pleasure there could be in it.

I have never hunted either, but I imagine the pleasure consists of some visceral connection to nature that the hunter experiences. When you're just taking pictures you are only an observer of nature, but when you are hunting you are participant in nature. There's more of a relationship between you and the animal, even if it's an adversarial one. It also probably calls up some primal instincts from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

That's not the question. You're diverting, as if it is an either or choice.

The people chomping at the bit over the lion mostly eat meat, dairy and eggs and those industries are all barbaric (from the animal's standpoint). The dentist is a dick but people consuming animal products also have blood on their hands.

You you include Cecil in that list?

The animal was wounded, shot by an arrow, and roaming for 40 minutes. Your call of "hypocrisy!" doesn't make any of it ok.

Trust me, Cecil could care less about leaving you bleeding and roaming around for 40 minutes, and has almost certainly done the same thing to other animals many many times, himself.

Meat eating is a perfectly natural thing, and vegetarians have very little moral weight in the real world.

"but killing endangered apex predators is terrible behaviour. " - Why?

Chalk me up as someone who doesn't understand either.

What exactly is the problem here?

Endangered is the keyword. Do you believe we should prevent all future generations from seeing an animal? Lions may not be totally on the ropes yet, but I'm sure many people angry at the dentist also know the white rhino situation (down to just 4 animals left in the world now).

Personally, I feel too much humility to say "lions (rhinos) not needed" and to say it for every future generation. I certainly wouldn't try to tell a stranger, 100 years in the future "hey, we just valued our current economic progress more highly than your experience of the world."

Isn't the point of the post that this doesn't seem to be making the endangerment any worse? And there are reasons to believe a market might actually improve things.

But fair enough, if it did materially increase the risk of lions disappearing forever, I could see assigning some non-zero value to that problem. But rage strikes me as a particularly bad reaction to the problem, and just the sort of reaction we should aim to discourage in ourselves.

I have no problem with hunting, especially when it is a food animal, especially when it is non-endangered. I always thought People for Eating Tasty Animals was a pretty good joke. When you get out to animals you don't plan to eat, that are endangered, you are cutting it a bit closer. I may not feel rage, but I view it with suspicion.

Sure, if all the i's are dotted, and the t's are crossed, if hunts of endangered carnivores will improve their chances for survival, it's a good thing.

"Do you believe we should prevent all future generations from seeing an animal? " -What about the 99% of already extinct animals, killed off by human activity, climate change, or extant animals? Are we really worse off because we have never seen a Trilobite? I agree the value is non-zero, but we're not talking about major atrocities.

Duck hunters form Ducks Unlimited, Fly fishers form Trout Unlimited. Hikers form the Sierra Club. They value these resources and seek to protect them. I can only think "who cares" comes from city folk who don't get out there, and who don't value that as part of the human experience. I think it nature is deeply a part of who we are, and not separate. YMMV.

Did you read the study? Because it says that a hunting quota of up to 10% of adult males is acceptable for population management. This makes sense when you consider that once an older male is replaced as the head of the pride by a younger male they are reduced to solitary hunters competing for resources with the lions in the pride while no longer providing a benefit (reproduction.)

So much outrage over Cecil.

And none for those who took Itai Dzamara.

>Infanticide was observed when new males entered prides.

We should kill them all.

People with cameras also bring money to the conservation areas. The great thing is that taking photos does not deplete the resource, you can sell unlimited photo tours. The total number of hunting tours to sale is very limited, even if the price is really high you may hot hunting tours to sale in a few years.

I understand Tyler's point, killing adults leave space for young males and total population is not endangered. Perhaps the present level of conservation efforts is optimal. The only problem is that to arrive to this equilibrium a lot of resources are gone into conservation of territories and going after poachers. Perhaps calling for more resources for conservation is not optimal, but no conservation means extinction.

I find trophy hunting appalling, but isn't that the only thing keeping species conservation efforts afloat in Africa right now?

First, the financial contribution of trophy hunters is minimal compared to the overall costs of habitat conservation, particularly given opportunity costs. So they shouldn't get some special say. And their consumptive use generates costs that wildlife-viewers and existence valuers don't.

And while someone complaining might not know this particular lion, they can still know that lions are scarce, populations are declining (so rational expectations regarding future scarcity and value), and generally enjoy knowing that lions exist. This existence value is a visceral thing, as you've seen if you've ever raised children and watched how they develop wonder for animals like lions.

There's little relationship between opposing trophy hunting of rare megafauna and eating commercial meat. Cows and chicken aren't scarce, or majestic. Plenty of people eat meat but want their meat treated humanely.

Right, but you get an especially big thrill from seeing rare/endangered animals, so this hunter was just adding to the experience.

My guess is this guy has a tiny penis and limited capacity to prove his might beyond killing things and c whitening his teeth (both done with shirt off).

There are plenty of good reasons to be angry with the dentist but your comment reeks of projection.

This existence value is a visceral thing, as you’ve seen if you’ve ever raised children and watched how they develop wonder for animals like lions.

But the liberals are all sneering at Marco Rubio for suggesting that the PP videos are more disturbing than Cecil.

Clearly there are people whose viscera resonate more th


Clearly there are people whose viscera resonate more with lions than with aborted humans. And these people don't try to explain themselves so I totally cannot understand them. ...

Aren't people kind of confusing two issues here:
1. Hunting any animal purely for a trophy, rather than for food.
2. Killing endangered species.

I'm entirely sympathetic to 2, but I'm not sure 1 is all that big a deal.

If the lions in question are endangered, I'm also confused as to why any hunting of them at all is legal, trophy or not. (It's not like we'd care if some locals were eating them for meat or taking their testicles and selling them to chinese alternative medidcine suppliers.)

Y'all are missing the point about this particular uproar. People in southern Africa take their game parks seriously. Hwange is a national treasure in Zimbabwe, like Kruger is in South Africa.

You are absolutely NOT allowed to hunt in those parks. You are absolutely NOT allowed to lure animals out of the parks into surrounding farms. You are absolutely NOT allowed to hunt animals that came from the parks, rather than the ones that were raised and maintained on the farms specifically for hunting and whatever else the farmers/ranchers want to do with them.

That's why there are criminal charges. It was a criminal act. And that's quite apart from the lion in question being somewhat special (because of its mane), being fairly well-known locally, and being quite a tourist draw. The loss in tourists will probably eventually outstrip the $50k paid to kill the lion. No, conservation will not be helped by this particular hunt, or any of the similar ones that occur in those boundary farms.

>The proportion of male cubs increased between 1999 and 2004, which may have occurred to compensate for high adult male mortality. - How can this happen ? And why it does not happen in human population?

Can the X-sperm somehow get priority from environment conditions - or there is some other selection process at work?

So the park is a gun free zone. Problem is, lions can't read.

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