Animal advocates continue to express outrage after reports of an iconic male lion was baited and killed by an American trophy hunter on Friday in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, located on the boundary of Kruger National Park in South Africa. There are no fences between the private reserves and Kruger National Park.
Unconfirmed reports state the lion killed was the pack leader of the Western Pride named Skye and revered by tourists around the world. If Syke was killed, it will mean his cubs will be killed by another male taking over the pride. According to LowaeVelder, there had been an approval to hunt an elderly lion “that often encroached into the north-eastern region of Umbabat from the Kruger, was in the cross-hairs,” and Skye was not the target.
The lion had been lured out of Kruger Park with bait from an elephant hunted and killed just days before. The American hunter is said to have paid more than $76,000 to kill the lion. The authority to hunt and kill the lion was allegedly legal according to the governing authority Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.
Just before the hunt, the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, sent a Cease and Desist warning to the CEO of Kruger Park Glen Philips and related agencies. The hunting quota included 4,467 animals including elephants, buffalo, hippos, leopards, hyena, giraffes and impalas. Hunting a lion was expressly excluded, however someone circumvented the rules and obtained a license to kill the lion.
The AfricaGeographic reports the lion that was shot met the requirements of the Greater Kruger lion hunting protocol, and hunting is permitted to pay for ongoing reserve management and security costs. Most people, however do not agree, and shiver at the facts that a few wealthy people can pay their way to kill iconic animals when there are viable alternatives to conservation funding.
Umbabat has been under scrutiny in the past when another well-known lion was shot. Time for South Africans to stand up and fight for the rights of the animals and their national heritage.