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Animal Hunting: What shocking truths are realised in light of Cecil the Lion’s death

Recent news that Cecil the Lion was  killed by US dentist and life-long hunting enthusiast, Walter Palmer, has created a spotlight around the divisive topic of animal hunting.

Although you do need licenses, permits and payments in order to legally be allowed to hunt animals in Zimbabwe and across the world, the recreational killing of animals is still debated and criticised.

In Zimbabwe, under the provisions of Park and Wildlife General Amendment Regulations, 1999 (No. 3) bowhunting is permitted on private and communal land. Most high fenced land is considered ‘exempt’, meaning that certain game laws do not apply in this area.

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Hunting season are not enforced upon exempt land, whereas some game has their traditional open season if you pursue them on open land, meaning that you can hunt all year round in South Africa regardless of the season.

A family run hunting business in Zimbabwe, Bushman Safaris, has come under attack after it has been placed in the centre of the Cecil the Lion was killed illegally at the beginning of July.

Zimbabwe’s wildlife has been under extreme pressure since political problems surfaced in 2000 and many traditionally good plains game areas are no longer viable for bowhunters.

Despite this, mots of the bowhunts for the killing of elephants has continued in this area recently.

Holiday packages, referred to as Hunting Safaris, are often purchased by groups and individuals so that they can have a supposedly remarkable experience, similar to the experience Walter Palmer would have paid for.

The hunting fee of an elephant can be priced upwards of $49,000 and the lion fees, dependant on sex, are upwards of $20,000.

The Zimbwabe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority Cecil the Lion was killed on Antionette farm in Gwayi Conservancy in the Hwange district. Subsequently, Bronkhorst was charged for the illegal killing on Monday.

Bronkhorst denies the charges claiming that he did not know it was a known lion, however the story has sparked an interest in hunting laws, not just in Zimbabwe but also further afield.

Trophy hunting is offered in 23 sub-Saharan African countries and generates approximately $201 million per year. Supposedly Tanzania, Mozambique, Nambia and South Africa have the most effective controls regarding animal hunting because of its transparency.

On the other hand, Chad, Sudan,Congo, Mali, Senegal, Togo and Nigeria are named as having the worst control regimes on hunting because of their political instability.

The EU’s strategic approach to African Wildlife Conservation has created a highly restricted approach to hunting in Africa, but has consequently caused a rise in illegal hunting.

Canned hunting is also a practice that has come to light from Cecil’s death; the animals are bred solely to be hunted. Although canned hunting caters for a variety of species around the world, lions have become a favourite prey.

The practice is usually justified because the wild lion population is not affected and hunting in general is supported because the money generated from hunting because it allows for breeding programs, protection and management programmes to be enforced.

Hunting tourists spend a conservatively estimated R 1.072 billion in South Africa ni 2013, an increase of 32% on 2012’s R811 million according to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

There is hope that Cecil’s slaughter will spark change to end legalised hunting.

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