Could hunting lions be crucial to their protection? As the US Fish and Wildlife Service debates listing the African lion as endangered, an op-ed in today's New York Times pushes that counter-intuitive line.
Alexander Songorwa, director of wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, writes that trophy-hunting provides huge amounts of cash to Tanzania's economy - and helps maintain conservation efforts in the long term.
Here are the figures Songorwa builds his case on:
There are 16,800 lions in Tanzania ("the population in Tanzania is not endangered", he says)
Regulations only allow hunting of male lions over the age of 6 - so reproductively active members remain with their prides
Trophy hunting brought in $75 million to the Tanzanian economy between 2008 and 2011
- This money supports 26 game reserves and wildlife management areas owned by local communities
Songorwa closes with this plea: "As Tanzania’s highest-ranking wildlife official, I ask on behalf of my country and all of our wildlife: do not list the African lion as endangered. Instead, help us make the most from the revenues we generate."
What do you think? Is this form of conservation appropriate? Take the poll below.