The southern African country of Botswana has abruptly reopened lion hunting - not fully to be sure, but the one-cat-per-major-concession-area quota was more than enough to touch off a mini-stampede of interested hunters when I announced the opening in an e-mail bulletin December 1. Fueling the interest are continuing reports of big MGMs wandering about in full daylight in some of the better concessions. Indeed, Botswana has always produced fine lions. With hunting closed for three years, some truly memorable cats are likely to be taken this coming year.
There has been no official explanation for the surprise opening, which has left observers free to speculate that it may have been a residual benefit of the battle Conservation Force won in Bangkok this past winter. That battle, of course, was the one that resulted in Kenya withdrawing its proposal to uplist the African lion to Appendix I of CITES.