More than 70 major safari operators, hunting industry leaders and top conservationists have pledged to support Dallas Safari Club’s (DSC) newly adopted definition of the ideal huntable male African lion. The definition reads: “The ideal huntable male lion is at least six years of age and is not known to head a pride or be part of a coalition heading a pride with dependent cubs.”
DSC adopted the position as a way to urge hunters to self-impose harvest restrictions. Overharvest of young male lions could reduce lion populations overall, posing a real concern to the conservation and scientific management of this iconic species. Furthermore, such reductions in numbers would lead wildlife authorities to reduce quotas. However, research shows that hunting older male lions has no negative effect on populations. Encouraging lion hunters to be more selective is a DSC conservation move being applauded by biologists and professional hunters across Africa (http://www.biggame.org/).
Editors Note: As laudable as this seems, there is an inherent risk with this approach that could result in shutting down lion hunting. Monitoring of age-based wild lion trophy hunting is implemented in the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique, Tanzania (in the whole country) and Zambia. In all these areas, the so-called “6 year rule” is not applied using only two categories i.e. older than 6 years = accepted, less than 6 years = rejected). The “rule” in fact uses three categories: greater than 6 years = accepted with awards, less than 4 years = rejected with strong penalties and between 4 and 6 years= tolerated with penalties. The word ‘6 year rule’ is therefore misleading since the two category binary mechanism is not applied in reality.