Cape Town - The Zambian government has lifted the country’s hunting ban of big cats.
According to Zambia’s Daily Mail, the Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata announced the lifting of the ban at a media briefing in Lusaka on Sunday.
Hunting of lions will now resume in Zambia for the 2016/2017 season, while that of leopards can start in the 2015/2016 season already.
The ban on the hunting of cats was enforced in January 2013 due to weak regulation of the industry, at the time.
The report states problems that led to the ban included “declining lion populations in some areas due to over-harvesting, hunting of underage lions and depleting of lion habitats”.
Kapata is quoted as saying safari hunting is profitable and good for wildlife, which can benefit all citizens if properly handled.
She said the suspension of the hunting in the 19 hunting blocks greatly affected wildlife resources and the livelihood of the locals in the game management areas.
Kapata said the leopard population was and is still healthy but hunting was affected because of lapses in monitoring aspects.
She said based on the advice given and fresh information from the field, The Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) has produced documentation that describes the status of the lions in Zambia and prescribed guidelines that will be used to regulate big cat hunting in Zambia.
The move comes as moves against trophy hunting in Zambia's SADC neighbours South African and Namibia hit the news.
READ: Airlines send SA Trophy hunting industry into tailspin with cargo ban
Traveller24 recently reported that Emirates joined South Africa Airways in the banning the carriage of Hunting Trophies, including of elephant, rhinoceros, lion and tiger.
Namibian Professional Hunting Association (Napha)'s president, Kai-Uwe Denker commended SAA's move, stating that the illegal trafficking of wildlife products, especially elephant tusks and rhino horns, and unacceptable hunting methods such as canned lion and tiger shooting, are a worldwide concern by the conservation-orientated public.
"As such, the decision, based on actual abuse, has to be accepted. The onus now is on all stakeholders, inclusive of SAA, to see to it that actions, controls and regulations are put in place to prevent future abuse of the system, as transpired here, so that the ban can be lifted again. After all, it is of great concern that the confiscated ivory, which led to the drastic action taken by SAA, was on board one of their flights unbeknownst to the airline," he stated.
He suggested that the hunting-fraternity unanimously condemn the unacceptable practice of canned-shooting, or as it is nowadays called "captive bred shooting", and that conservation authorities all over the world implement regulations forbidding the artificial breeding of wild animals for the hunting industry.
"Only then can sustainable trophy hunting regain its rightful place as an important conservation tool to the benefit of wildlife and natural habitats," Denker added.
A petition has since been started by Change.org to try and get Delta Airlines to do the same.