Hunting 'helps conserve lions', Environment Minister Rory Stewart claims

However he did concede that the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe was 'an illegal action, a disgusting action and one we completely condemn'

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The Independent Online

Environment minister Rory Stewart has said that the legal hunting of lions can help conservation efforts in Africa.

Mr Stewart said it was “important for people to understand” why hunting was allowed in many African countries, The Daily Telegraph reported.

“This is about working with African governments. Some of those governments, the South African government for example, is making significant money — which is then reinvested back into lion conservation and parks — from legal hunting,” he said.

However he said the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist with a bow and arrow was “an illegal action, a disgusting action and one we completely condemn”.

Cecil was a well-known lion who had been studied by researchers for years and was wearing a tracking device.

The hunting guide who led Walter Palmer to the place where Cecil was shot is currently on trial in Zimbabwe for breaching that country’s hunting laws.

The UK has issued 61 licences to bring hunting trophies in the last year, but only 16 have been used, none involving the remains of lions.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation at the Zoological Society of London, said trophy hunting was “a very complex issue and there has to be very set conditions for it to work” in a conservation sense.

“You need very good governance, very good wildlife management, and in reality those conditions are rarely in place,” he added.

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