Martin Nel Safaris has announced on their website that they are raffling an 18-day lion safari within the Bubye Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe. Despite a public outcry from conservationists, the company organising the raffle insists that the winner can choose to opt not to shoot the lion.
The prize of the raffle is a trophy hunting lion safari or a photographic safari for two people. Should the winner opt for a photographic safari, the male lion will be collared for research purposes and his permit removed from the hunting quota.
Raffle tickets can be purchased by either hunting or non-hunting buyers with 100 tickets being sold at a price of US$1,500 per ticket. The draw will be held and the winner announced in the Bubye Valley Conservancy booth at the Safari Club International show held in Las Vegas on Friday, 5th February 2016.
The winner can also choose to shoot various other animals on the hunt for additional fees. These include buffalo, eland, kudu, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog, impala and waterbuck.
The Bubye Valley Conservancy website claims that the conversion of cattle farming land to a trophy hunting reserve has seen a growth in the area’s lion population. Seventeen lions were initially introduced to the area in 1999 and today there are more than 400 lions on Bubye Valley Conservancy (approximately 20% of Zimbabwe’s wild lions).
Part of the funds received from the raffle will go to the Bubye Valley Conservancy Lion research programme. The research programme, which is linked to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford, aims to study lions outside of core protected areas with a particular focus on trophy hunting as a conservation tool.