Wildlife campaigners have condemned the sale of raffle tickets that would allow the winner to hunt down a lion or go in Zimbabwe. The Bubye Valley Conservancy – that organises safaris – has said that the money raised from ticket sales would be used to fund their research on lions.
"The prize on offer is an 18 day Lion Safari and the winner may choose between either a full lion trophy hunt or a photographic safari for two people during which a male lion will be collared for research purposes, and his permit removed from the hunting quota (and they can obviously also Christen him with a name)," it is mentioned on the Bubye Valley Conservancy website.
"This raffle should therefore appeal to all outdoor enthusiasts, whether hunter or not, as safari of this value is unique: tickets cost just US$1,500 (£1,000) each and there are only 100 tickets on offer. Either way, you are guaranteed to be contributing to lion conservation in Africa by helping to fund cutting-edge lion research," it added. The winner of the raffle will be announced next month at the Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas.
Professional hunter, Martin Nel, who will lead the hunt and the lion safari, said that non-hunters can participate in the event as well, and if they win they can opt not to kill the lion. He said: "Everyone who has been actively involved in research in Africa agrees that trophy hunting has its place in conservation on the continent, and BVC's achievements highlight this fact."
The sale of raffle tickets has attracted criticism as it comes close on the heels of Cecil the Lion being shot dead in Zimbabwe last year by an American dentist Walter Palmer. After Cecil's death, Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) received donations worth £785,000.
Oxford University academics Dr Byron du Preez and PhD student Paul Trethowan head the Bubye Valley Conservancy team. One of the owners of Bubye Valley Conservancy is Charles Davy – father of Prince Harry's ex-girlfriend Chelsy.
"We are shocked and appalled by this lion trophy raffle from WildCRU's close associates," Dr Pieter Kat, of charity LionAid, said. "The generosity of public donations was given to WildCRU to protect lions like Cecil and I hope Oxford University will use monies given in good faith to protect lions from future trophy hunting, which has no benefit to the conservation of a species in catastrophic decline."