Conservation Force has finally completed its field guide on how to age and judge African lion trophies. The guide is the culmination of two years of work and includes hundreds of color photographs and contributions from 19 of the top African lion specialists in the world. It was a collaborative effort between Conservation Force and Savannas Forever, an organization we have worked with from its inception. It is the first, foremost and most authoritative work of its kind. It is of extreme value to every safari hunter and non-hunter alike. There has never been such a beautifully depicted, informative and useful guide to the king of the beasts. The colorful guide is designed to be taken into the bush or to be on a coffee table.
Safari Press, a long-time supporter of Conservation Force, has published the field guide. It is available from them and from The Hunting Report at www.huntingreport.com. Tel. 800-272-5656. Cost is $16.95, plus $5.95 shipping within the US; $8.95 international. Royalties from the sale of each guide go to Conservation Force for its continuing African lion projects. Conservation Force leaders serve on both the Cat Specialist Group of IUCN and the African Lion Working Group for the good of all.
The Hunter’s Guide is a guide to making trophy selection. It contains the most scientifically up-to-date data on judging the age of African lion. The foremost scientific experts in Eastern and Southern Africa joined together with Conservation Force to provide the best available information. The objective was to apply science for better or the best hunting practices.
This is part of a larger collaborative effort between Conservation Force and the African lion scientific community. Conservation Force has led the hunting community’s increased efforts to conserve the African lion with dozens of projects and programs across most of Africa, predating the Kenya listing proposal in Bangkok at CITES COP 13. Tourist hunting has a critical role to play in conserving lion beyond the borders of protected areas and protected-area lions when they seasonally range out from those areas. Most existing lion habitat and prey are in Africa’s tourist hunting areas. We are focused on these areas beyond the protection of park boundaries. In those areas, tourist trophy hunting can maximize the value of lions to both the authorities and local people who will ultimately determine its fate. Moreover, the biological consequences of taking lions can be minimized if all lions taken are six years of age or older. For example, the cubs of most pride males are generally old enough to survive pride takeover if the pride male has reached six years of age when removed. The strategy of limiting the harvest to older males is in harmony with tourist trophy hunting, and it raises the esteem of this important “Big Five” game species. It is believed to be the best management practice at this time.
More trophy lions will be available if young males are spared to grow older. The overall take will be less because fewer lion live to the age of six or more, though that is only an incidental consequence. The whole lion population will be more robust due to the survival of more cubs. It’s time that safari hunters stop settling for anything less than a mature lion. Who has more to lose than the safari hunting world if African lions don’t survive?
The guide aims to increase the conservation value of lions as well as serve as an aid to hunters. The fact of being a game animal can serve a species well. Being a true trophy serves it even better.
Conservation Force is endeavoring to better forge hunting into a force for conservation. We know and promise that all will find the guide useful, and we wish fellow hunters luck in their quest to genuinely make the king of beasts a memorable part of their life experiences.
Conservation Force contracted the guide that was authored by Karyl L. Whitman and Craig Packer. It could not have been completed without the guidance of Craig Packer, and is a fundamental part of Savannas Forever. It is one more important step in our effort to establish best hunting practices and tweak hunting as a force for conservation. It also demonstrates the hunting world’s good faith to the scientific community as we work together to save beasts at risk because of conflicts with man. The Guide was primarily funded by Conservation Force with help from Dallas Safari Club, the International Council of Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), the International Professional Hunters Association (IPHA), the Rann-Force Program (Rann Safaris), and the Chancellor International Wildlife Fund that has helped fund so many of our projects and programs. The principle reviewers were myself, Luke Hunter of WCS, George Hartley, Markus Borner, Debbie Peake, Shane Mahoney, David Erickson, Sarel van der Merwe, Philippe Chardonnet, Bertrand des Clers and Dr. Craig Packer of the Serengeti Lion Project and Savannas Forever. The true list of contributors goes on and on and includes most of the top African lion authorities of today.
Special thanks are also due four prominent advertisers at the back of the book that helped offset the printing and distribution costs of the publication: Sports Afield magazine, Animal Artistry, W.J. Jeffery & Co. Ltd. London, and LEGENDARY ADVENTURES, Inc.