Bubye Valley Conservancy might have to kill 200 lions to bring the population down to sustainable levels. One of the largest wildlife reserves in Zimbabwe, Bubye – it spans 850,000 acres – now has over 500 lions, which are creating problems for other wildlife populations on the reserve. The overpopulation of the lions has lead to decimated numbers of antelope, giraffe, cheetah, leopards and wild dogs. A dry season has made these smaller game easy targets due to low grass.
The circumstances Bubye finds itselfs in are being blamed on “the Cecil effect,” according to National Post. This refers to the massive outcry that resulted when U.S. dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil the lion, a popular resident of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.
Vilifying Palmer and forcing him into hiding has lead other big-game hunters to fear being made into villains, should they go to Zimbabwe. As a result, the reduced population control has created many more problems.
“Plummeting oil prices have further led to a drop in the number of visitors from U.S. states such as Texas, from where traditionally large numbers of hunters go to Zimbabwe,” from National Post.
An appeal has been made to other wildlife sanctuaries and institutions in hopes of them taking the excess lions and giving them a home.
“I wish we could give about 200 of our lions away to ease the overpopulation,” said Bubye Valley Conservancy general manager, Blondie Leathem. “If anyone knows of a suitable habitat for them where they will not land up in human conflict, or in wildlife areas where they will not be beaten up because of existing prides, please let us know and help us raise the money to move them.”
Unfortunately, reserves like Bubye rely on money they make from big game hunting in order to properly support wildlife work.
It appears that the anger of the public has actually ended up hurting those it intended to protect.