Lion advocates support trophy hunting to help save big cats

When one contemplates saving an endangered species, one’s thoughts naturally turn to … shooting it. (Wait, yours don’t?) So it is with the fast-shrinking lion population of southern and eastern Africa: A historic meeting of conservationists, regional government representatives, and safari hunters last week in South Africa concluded that legal trophy hunting might be just the ticket to preserving the iconic great cats in the wild. Trophy hunting, combined with other strategies like strong crackdowns on illegal lion kills, could help save lion habitat and finance conservation efforts. Lions have disappeared from about 80 percent of their historic range in Africa, thanks to habitat loss, disappearance of wild prey, and more human-lion conflicts — all of which are likely to increase if Africa’s human population continues to grow.