Karongwe Reserve: Lion Conservation or Canned Hunts?

Karongwe Reserve South Africa
Karongwe Reserve South Africa. Photograph by Jean & Nathalie
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Karongwe is a 22,000-acre private, fenced game reserve in South Africa. It is 250 miles north-east of Johannesburg. A British agency, Global Vision International (GVI), recruits paying volunteers to work at the reserve. The recruits pay more than Β£1,000 per week to assist in lion conservation by tracking the movement of lions and recording the data. The sales advertising is designed to entice gap year students to work in lion conservation. A noble enterprise and very attractive….

In reality, it is seedy like many businesses dealing in animals. It transpires that a trophy hunter pays a fortune to shoot the lion that has been meticulously tracked. This is relatively easy because an innocent student has carefully compiled information about the lion’s movements within a small area.

Is this a dressed up canned lion hunt? Canned lion hunts are about containing lions in a relatively small area and then charging tourists, who have a fascination in shooting magnificent animals, a small fortune to shoot them. The lions are easy to shoot because the shooters know where they are.

The Karongwe Reserve says that:

“In this case we had an old lion that had to be euthanised. We used a hunter who paid a fee.”

Sirs, this is not euthanasia. This is canned hunting. Shooting an old lion is not euthanasia. Euthanasia is when an animal is humanely (without pain) put to sleep because he/she is terminally ill.

You can’t get away from the inevitable conclusion: wild life in Africa is being decimated by people one way and another. If it is not straight persecution by people it is due to habitat loss, canned hunting and disease and many other human related causes.

Here is a chart that shows the decline of the Lion in Africa from the 1800s to present1:

DateLion Population in Africa

The population figures are shocking – as bad as for the Bengal tiger in terms of decline. There is a Facebook page: Save the Karongwe Lions. This is surely indicative of the fact that the reserve’s objectives are dubious. The reserve’s management say they have to cull to maintain healthy lion prides and so on but that seems to be a cheap argument.


  1. National Geographic

9 thoughts on “Karongwe Reserve: Lion Conservation or Canned Hunts?”

  1. Seems the wild-life population of lions in Africa is as perilous as the “Bengal Tiger” in India,since 20,000 could be a rough estimate.I was born in Mombasa and lived there till 1968 and remember visiting the “Nairobi National Park” in 1967, the first established National park in Kenya.Bizarrely, akin to the “Sanjay Gandhi National Park” in Mumbai famous for leopards, the “Nairobi National Park” is situated on the outskirts of Nairobi city.Distinctly recollect viewing Cheetahs in this small National park and hope they exist in 2013.When my father first arrived in Mombasa in the 1950’s he says that lions roars could be heard on the outskirts of Mombasa city and “Wild-life Hunting Tours” the biggest business in Mombasa,very common. One of my Dad’s colleagues himself was a guided wild-life hunter for tourists.
    When i visited Mombasa and Dar-es-salaam in 1988 on board a ship it was still easy to legally buy wild-life products in Curio shops.
    I have attached a “WILD-LIFE MAP” of Tanzania, Kenya & Uganda of the 1960’s.”WILD-LIFE TOURISM” is the major economy of east African Country’s and hope the same is preserved.

    • Thanks Rudolph, interesting. As you say the figures are estimates and people tend to overestimate when it comes to wild cat species population sizes.

      It is strange that one of the great assets of Africa – its wildlife – is being persecuted and destroyed. It looks like crappy management or other assets, such as minerals supplying China, is more valuable.

      China is in Africa in a big way and they will destroy the wildlife. I’ll guarantee it because they will destroy the forests and the habitats of the wild species to dig out the minerals and the dictators will allow it because they can make a fast few billion in kick-backs.

      It’s about people destroying animals.

      • This is disgusting and depressing. Revolting. ONLY 20k lions in Africa?? That’s beyond crazy – that is nothing. Zilch. Surely those 20k will be gone in 10 years from now?

        I would love to shoot all those people who think it’s ok to do this.

          • Right on, Marc!
            I just read an article about bobcat hunting in California.
            It seems hunters are trapping, killing, and selling the fur to China “outside the desiganted hunting areas and season”.

            WHAT THE F…
            I didn’t even know hunting bobcats was legal much less that there is a season!
            I have a particular affection for bobcats.

              • Thanks, Michael. I don’t remember this article, and I’ve been around about 3 years now!

                It breaks my heart to know that bobcats are being killed. I’ve had some contact with a few, and they are the ULTIMATE FERAL, for sure.

                • Of course I have never seen a bobcat live. I wish I lived in some wild parts of America where you do have some great wildlife such as the bobcat and puma. I’d love to see these cats live in their own habitat. I’d probably make friends with a bobcat πŸ˜‰ If he’s allowed me. They are not too unfriendly apparently (you may have a different opinion) as some people do keep them as “pets”. The same goes for pumas. I don’t agree with wild cat species as pets though.

              • Bobcats, like any other cat, have potential to descend my “tier” system but I don’t believe they will ever be tamed or suitable as a pet.

                Adult bobcats are ULTIMATE ferals in my world. It’s all about respect. The few I have encountered in my life were non-threatening. I presume they were that way because I was. I stayed my distance, didn’t make sudden moves, and remained quiet.

                As a kid (around 10 or 11), I came upon 3 baby bobcats with no mama to be seen (she was probably out hunting). I grabbed one and carried her home. I had to hold her tightly, take off my jacket, and wrap her up in it because she was bloodying me. Even at that young age she was hissing, spitting, growling like no other cat I had known. I came into the house and let her go, saying to my mom who was in the kitchen, “Got me another cat, Mom!”

                This baby ran crazy, climbing curtains, making noises that I had never heard before, even from true ferals. My mom was freaked, opened the front and back doors, and my baby ran out. I never saw her again.


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