Economics - General

Saving Lions by Killing Them

Lions are among the most awe-inspiring animals around.  Their regal manes have inspired many and have been the source of numerous Disney cartoon characters.

The question is, how does one protect the animals?  In Namibia, the answer has been allowing hunters to kill them.  Hunting these animals has the obvious drawback that it decreases the number of these animals alive in the short run.  Further, most hunters prefer hunting adult male lions.

A male lion needs six years to establish himself in a pride and rear a new generation. Overhunting leads to continual turnover in the pride: when a new male takes the throne, he tends to kill the old crop of cubs so he can father his own. But when I asked if he would support a ban on trophy hunting, even Packer demurred.

However, hunting may save the animals.  Hunters pay thousands of dollars to have the chance to hunt these animals.  Villagers can profit from these hunts.  Thus, they have the incentive to allow the hunting of these animals, but not to the degree that this asset is completely used up.  Furthers, villagers themselves may want to hunt the animals themselves if they trample their crops.  If they are valuable assets, however, the villagers will have an incentive to protect them.

Counterintuitively, hunting may be the only path for lions to survive.

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