‘Cecil effect’ causes lion numbers to soar; wildlife area considers culling 200 lions

The Cecil effect has caused an over population of lions at Bubye Valley Conservancy, the largest wildlife area.

The Cecil effect has caused an overpopulation of lions at Bubye Valley Conservancy, the largest wildlife area. Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The worldwide outrage over a Minnesota dentist killing the immensely popular Cecil the lion outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe resulted in scores of big-game hunters staying away from Zimbabwe.

But the so-called “Cecil effect” is creating a new set of consequences that might spark additional international outrage.

Because of the lack of hunters killing lions, Zimbabwe's largest wildlife area is seeing an overpopulation of lions and says it might be forced to cull 200 lions if it can't find homes for them, according to The Telegraph and Daily Mail.

The Bubye Valley Conservancy, founded 22 years ago by Charles Davy, the father of Prince Harry's former girlfriend, has more than 500 lions, a population said to be unsustainable on the 850,000 acres at Bubye.

RELATED: Zimbabwe's most beloved lion, Cecil, killed by a trophy hunter

“I wish we could give about 200 of our lions away to ease the overpopulation,” Blondie Leathem, general manager of the Bubye Valley Conservancy, told The Telegraph. “If anyone knows of a suitable habitat for them where they will not land up in human conflict, or in wildlife areas where they will not be beaten up because of existing prides, please let us know and help us raise the money to move them.”

Big-game hunters have avoided Zimbabwe for fear of similar treatment received by American hunter Walter Palmer, who went into hiding after an international outcry over Cecil the lion's death. He was cleared of any wrongdoing, incidentally.

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Plummeting oil prices have further led to a drop in the number of visitors from U.S. states such as Texas, from where traditionally large numbers of hunters go to Zimbabwe.

Bubye's lions are decimating populations of antelope, along with other animals such as giraffe, cheetah, leopards and wild dogs, after the driest summer on record kept grasses low and made the small game easy targets…

Mr Leathem insisted he was not a hunter but a conservationist and had no option but to maintain “sustainable” hunting to safeguard Bubye's future.

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