THE Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) says permission to hunt lions and leopards in Zambia will not contribute to the extinction of the animal population.
In a statement issued in Lusaka on Thursday, ZAWA public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe said there was nowhere in the world where legal hunting has contributed to the extinction of lion population.
“Guidelines regulating hunting have been developed. The guidelines prescribe hunting of male lions aged six years and above,” he said.
Mr Kalembwe said the lions being hunted are old and are no longer breeding, thus have a diminished biological function.
He further said since these lions have been pushed out of the prides and have difficulties to hunt wild prey, they pose a danger to human life and domestic animals which usually become easy prey, especially in rural areas.
Mr Kalembwe said it makes conservation and economic sense to harvest such lions so that rural communities living with the wildlife also benefit from these resources.
He said that at the same time, the rural communities need to raise funds to finance conservation programmes.
“It is regrettable that certain sections of the public endeavour to deprive poor local communities of benefitting from wildlife by advocating the ban on trade in trophies.
“Such calls can also frustrate conservation efforts and programmes that seek to protect the very wildlife resources they claim to care about,” Mr Kalembwe said.
He said hunting of big cats contributes to the local and the national economy through tourism, while income that is generated contributes significantly to wildlife conservation.
Mr Kalembwe said ZAWA is working in consultation with local and international experts in monitoring the big cat population and hunting.