In November, Conservation Force began widely distributing a condensed version of its Guide to Aging Lion in East and Southern Africa. The free guide occupies the last two pages of this Bulletin. It has been circulated to professional hunters associations, is available on Conservation Force’s website, is being published in African Indaba and freely handed out at meetings and conventions around the world.
Of course, it is not a substitute for the more complete guide of 46 pages published by Safari Press and also sold by The Hunting Report at a nominal price. The guide was the work of 12 of the leading lion specialists in the world, while this free guide has been wholly prepared by the leading author of the original, Karyl Whitman, Ph.D., and has been previewed by Craig Packer, Ph.D.
Hunters are the primary stakeholders in the survival of the African lion, which is seen as intolerable by pastoralists. We are also its stewards.
It is necessary and important that we search for and apply suitable practices for this dwindling species. The limiting of harvest to lion five years of age or older is the new ethic, new definition of a trophy lion, and has the very least biological impact on the respective population. If we are to be good stewards, we must adopt reasonable practices ourselves. The age ethic is fortified by contemporary lion science. Conservation Force is deeply engaged with the scientific community in the advancement of that science in addition to our leadership in evolving national lion action plans across Africa.
I am getting a little leery of “best practices” as being unnecessarily limiting. Nevertheless, this is a better practice, particularly while we endeavor to secure robust lion populations, of which there are too few, and rebuild and restore others. It is probably a necessary, good faith practice if we are to keep lion from being uplisted and continue to play our important role in its conservation. It is still a difficult judgment call in the field, but that is what makes it a true trophy.
Keep this guide or print a free color version from Conservation Force’s website at http://www.conservationforce.org/pdf/2010LionBrochureF.pdf.