News Media Gets Facts Wrong on Zimbabwe Lion Conservation

ICC Provides.. Facts Regarding Hunt for Supposed Relative of Cecil the Lion
NEWS PROVIDED BY International Conservation Coalition (ICC)

July 20, 2017 12:00pm ET
Washington, DC, July 20— News media have reported the demise of a lion supposedly related to a lion,
whom photographic safari operators in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, called Cecil. The lion in
question was legally hunted in a government owned and managed forestry block.
ICC president and chairman, Tom Opre, spoke with Professional Hunter (PH) Richard Cooke yesterday
while Cooke was in his safari camp. Cooke, whose client killed the lion in question, has been a licensed
PH in Zimbabwe since 1996.
Cooke and his client were licensed to hunt the Ngamo-Sikumi State Forestry block (maintained by the
Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe). While in the block they located lion tracks.
“We first picked up a big male lion track, with worn back pads which is an indicator of an older lion,
approximately 14 kilometers outside Hwange National Park. We followed the tracks about 7 kilometers”
said Cooke.
Cooke said, “I first saw the lion at 8:45am. I had a good look at the lion before he disappeared into the
Cooke then contacted the park game scout in charge of monitoring lions and the researcher handling
the lion study in the park. They know of the lion and estimated his age to be approximately six and half
years (6.5). Zimbabwe law only allows for lions five years and older to be hunted.
“Both park staff and the researcher stated the lion had been extensively traveling outside the park (per
it’s GPS collar) and the pride had no cubs. I was told it was a proper lion to take,” stated Cooke.
The lion had been collared by researchers approximately two years ago. It was not part of a pride at the
After the lion was killed, Cooke returned the collar to researchers. He did take mane hair, blood and
tissue samples which he will provide to researchers upon his return from safari camp. These actions are
typical of professional hunters, when working with wildlife researchers and scientists, which reflects the
importance of consumptive management tools.

Regarding the supposed relation to the now famous Cecil the lion, it would be premature to
make the claim the lion in question was related to Cecil until proper DNA testing can be
accomplished utilizing the samples provided by PH Cooke.

The Facts:
Consumptive management tools, including hunting lions, provide Zimbabwe Parks &
Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) critical funds for their operating budget. In 2015, according to ZPWMA, fees from hunting and hunting leases contributed a large portion of their operational budget.
Much of these funds are directed toward anti-poaching efforts within National Parks.
John J. Jackson III Conservation Force, Member of African Lion Working Group, and of the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports, “licensed, regulated hunting is a classic form of
sustainable use. In Zimbabwe, it provides the lion’s share of the wildlife habitat (4.7 times more than
national parks), most of the operating revenue of ZimParks and community programs and funds most of
the anti-poaching control. It is not a discretionary activity. Rather, it is an essential conservation tool
that works”.

Lion hunting in Zimbabwe is highly regulated to ensure sustainability. In 2014, Zimbabwe adopted an
adaptive age-based lion quota that limits the number of lions hunted to male lions past the prime
breeding age. Zimbabwe has set conservative quotas and adjusted those quotas based on actual off
takes. Due to this regulation, hunters have only taken about 60% or less of quota each season. With a
countrywide population estimated to be at least 2,000 lions, only approximately 40 lions have been
taken each year over the last three years. According to ZPWMA, the funding from those lion hunts –
over $1.3 million in 2014-2015 — underwrites the costs of conservation and protection of lion habitat
and prey base in Zimbabwe
A 2016 IUCN report assessed Zimbabwe’s lion population as increasing, in contrast to most of the
African lion range states.
ICC: The ICC was formed by a diverse and international group of stakeholders who share a passion for
conserving wildlife and habitat. This group is a broad coalition of conservationists from around the
world: environmental leaders and species experts, sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts, scientists, farmers
and ranchers, and everyday people who cherish our wildlife.


Tom Opre, President & Chairman
Craig Patee, Executive Director


Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience:

Ron Thomson has 249 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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