In a letter to The Honorable Oppah Muchinguri MP, the Minister of Environment, Water and Climate of Zimbabwe, Humane Society International is calling on the government of Zimbabwe to investigate the irregularities surrounding the killing of Xanda the lion last week. In particular, HSI requests that Zimbabwe officials fully investigate the hunt, bring legal action against the trophy hunters if warranted, prevent the export of the trophy and establish a five-kilometer no-hunting zone around Hwange National Park.
According to a document posted on the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority website, male lions of any age known to be heading prides or known to be part of a coalition heading prides with dependent cubs (18 months old or less) should not be hunted. At the time of the hunt, researchers with the University of Oxford were tracking Xanda, the 6-year-old son of Cecil the lion. They have confirmed that Xanda was a male in a pride with three females and at least seven dependent cubs of between 12 and 18 months old who are too young to survive on their own and will be vulnerable to infanticide by any male lion who takes over Xanda’s pride. The researchers informed the professional hunter, whose client killed Xanda, of these facts and that killing Xanda would harm the lion population. The advice was ignored.
Audrey Delsink, executive director of Humane Society International/Africa, said: “With so many irregularities shrouding the killing of Xanda, we urge the Government of Zimbabwe to hold the people involved in his death accountable, if they are found to have acted in an illegal manner. Sadly, Xanda’s killers have also left his cubs vulnerable to infanticide, which means this careless hunt could lead to further unnecessary loss of animals already threatened with extinction. It just further highlights the destructive nature of the trophy hunting industry. At minimum, Zimbabwe must conduct a full investigation and not allow Xanda’s remains to leave the country as a trophy.”
Although the hunting group representing the hunters who killed Xanda claim he did not hold tenure of a pride, the scientists at the Hwange National Park where the hunt took place confirmed the collar returned to them by the hunter was Xanda’s. The hunter’s nationality and identity remains unknown.
In the letter, HSI urges the Government of Zimbabwe to:
1. Investigate the killing of Xanda to evaluate whether the relevant regulations and policies were followed and make the findings publicly known;
2. Not issue an export permit for the trophy of Xanda if any irregularities are found;
3. Prosecute any people involved in illegal acts with regard to the killing of Xanda if evidence of such is found; and
4. Establish a 5 km no hunting zone around Hwange National Park to prevent further killings of research animals, as urged by lion scientists at the University of Oxford.
Read the letter here.
- Fewer than 30,000 African lions—and possibly as few as 20,000—are estimated to remain today. Lions exist in 8 percent of their former range and are suffering from loss of habitat and prey in addition to poorly regulated trophy hunting.
- A report conducted by Economists at Large and commissioned by HSI found that trophy hunting is not economically important in African countries, with the total economic contribution of trophy hunters at most estimated at 0.03 percent of gross domestic product in the countries studied.