There are just 10,000 wild lions left in Africa. That's the size of a large village or small town, and there are 7 billion humans. That's 700,000 x the number of lions.
A recent trophy hunting controversy in Zimbabwe has strengthened the argument that the practice is damaging to conservation. In the wake of the scandal, African wildlife experts say that although proponents argue that trophy hunting enriches and empowers communities on the continent, the opposite is true in reality.
A so-called "trophy" hunter reportedly killed a lion called Mopane in Zimbabwe in early August. The circumstances surrounding his killing echo those of Cecil the lion. According to reports, the trophy hunter killed Mopane in the same area as Cecil, outside of Hwange National Park, and with the same weapon – a bow and arrow. Mopane also apparently took a long time to die, like Cecil.
Campaigners have since raised concerns about other male lions in the area they suspect are at risk of being targeted by trophy hunters. The potential impact of Mopane’s death is “horrific”. That’s because it will leave the cubs vulnerable to being killed by other male lions attempting to assert dominance over the remaining pride members. The females are also at risk as they may try to defend their cubs.
African conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert have previously stated that the dynamic whereby other males “move in to usurp the pride” after the removal of a dominant male lion, means that their single death “can lead to a cascade” of lion mortalities.
In short, although Mopane’s killer targeted only one lion, the act potentially threatens numerous others. This raises questions about the impact of the practice on conservation, given there are potentially less than 10,000 wild lions left in Lion Conservation Units (LCUs) across Africa, according to LionAid.