In the country where Cecil was killed, a threat of far greater proportions now looms over the lion population. One of Zimbabwe's largest and successful wildlife reserves, the Bubye Valley Conservancy, recently announced that its population of 500 lions is unsustainable, and their numbers must be reduced by at least 200.
Some are calling this the “Cecil effect,” blaming this overpopulation on the fact that trophy hunters have been scared off after the uproar over Cecil’s death. This is utterly absurd and plain arrogant -- wild animals have never needed human hunters to regulate their numbers. Still, though Bubye’s managers say they would prefer a non-lethal solution, there is a very real possibility that these lions could be killed. We must make sure this doesn’t happen.
Please join me in calling on Bubye general manager Blondie Leathem and the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority to ensure that these lions will not be killed. Please ask them to commit to the rehoming of the 200 Bubye lions in question.
The past twenty years have seen a 43% decline in the world’s lion population. There are now only 20,000 lions left in Africa, from a high of 200,000 100 years ago. And conservationists fear that their numbers could halve again in the next twenty years because of human-animal conflict and reduced habitat and food supplies. Bubye is one of the great success stories for lion conservation. The world is watching them, and they must act responsibly to preserve the lives of their lions.
African lions are a hot-button cause right now, and animal activists everywhere would jump at the chance to raise money to support the rehoming of Bubye’s lions. But Bubye and the Zimbabwean government must commit to keeping them alive until a viable alternative can be found and funded.
Please join me in urging the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Authority to commit to keeping the lions of Bubye alive.