The following is an email response to a Global Sporting Safaris customer who is considering an Africa Lion Hunting Safari in 2011. The customer’s email request was somewhat vague so Bob’s response was used to get a better idea of what the prospective lion hunter wanted to accomplish.
Lion hunting in Africa today is a lot like buying a car – different makes and models. In this case, lion hunting is primarily restricted to the following countries (countries where lions can be legally imported back to the US): Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the costs for these hunts vary dramatically.
Insofar as the lions are concerned, there are Estate lions in South Africa that have been born and raised in captivity (more on this in a moment) and free-range lions in most of the other destinations. More importantly, success rates will vary with the particular destination as will the mane quality of the lion. There has been an international effort to restrict the taking of lions less than six years of age and most of the professional hunters in the free-range states are very careful to adhere to this policy and, in point of fact, there are penalties in some countries for the taking of a lion less than six years old. The reason for this is that after six, these males are deemed to be no longer dominant and have probably been kicked out of the pride by a younger male, so these males have done their breeding and the taking of an older male does not disrupt the structure of the pride.
Those males that live in the dense thorn of the lowveld in Zimbabwe and Mozambique tend to have scraggly manes as their daily life in the thorn suppresses the luxurious manes typically found on East African lions or seen at the movie theater. There are exceptions of course, but not often.
For the Estate lions in South Africa, you can choose whether you want an “MGM” lion or something a bit less for a lesser amount of money. These lions are behind high fences in very large paddocks and the hunting is still fair chase (spot and stalk or tracking) and is no less exciting than hunting a free range lion. The difference is that it is generally cheaper and you are assured of taking a lion – unlike lion hunting in the other destinations.
So, this is lion 101. In order to start working on a hunt, I need to know your preferences and whether you have a philosophical objection to hunting an estate lion or whether you would prefer to hunt a free range lion over bait in the traditional manner. Aside from the Estate lions in South Africa, there is free range lion hunting in the areas surrounding Kruger National Park, but it is expensive. The next rung up the ladder from a cost standpoint would be Zimbabwe, then Zambia, with Tanzania being the top of the heap from a pricing standpoint. Lion are available in Mozambique, but both quotas and success rates are not as good as my previous suggestions. The other question would be if there is quota available in Zimbabwe, Zambia or Tanzania for 2011 as lion hunting is quite popular, the quotas remain low and there was a fear this past year that seasons would be closed as a result of the CITES COP 15 in Doha. As it turned out, we were able to defeat the proposal to uplist lions once again, but the fear remains – which has affected the availability of lion and driven the cost up (basic supply and demand).
Once you have reviewed the information and given me an idea as to your preferences and preferred budget, then I will start the process of narrowing your choices down and provide pricing and availability.
In the meantime, I hope that you have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!
Robert M. Anderson
Certified Wildlife Biologist
Africa Program Director
About Global Sporting Safaris, Inc.
Global Sporting Safaris, Inc. is a Full-Service Hunting Booking Agency located in Casper, Wyoming and established in 1991. We have a staff of 7 Hunting Consultants and Fishing Travel Agents with a combined 175 years of experience. We specialize in Africa Hunting Safaris, New Zealand Hunting and Argentina Hunting. Global Sporting Safaris invests time, effort and financial resources in developing our hunting trips with a constant eye on the quality and professional services they offer.