Rolf Baldus

 Review of the book „Humans and Wildlife“ by Keith Somerville

By Rolf D. Baldus

After his remarkable book on elephants and ivory poaching
(1) Professor Keith Somerville from the University of Kent now has submitted a book
about lions (2). It’s not just about animals, because their survival in the wild today depends primarily on us humans. The book is therefore mainly about the lion-human relationship, as the subtitle explains. It is about „conflict, conservation and coexistence“.

Somerville pursues this arc of tension from the Pleistocene to the present day. His main interest is the question why the number of these big cats has so much declined. For the hunter the intensive lion culling and the days of the large hunting safaris during the colonial period are of special interest. The current
status of lion populations and their influencing factors are provided for all regions
in Africa and for a number of countries in detail.

The professor deals at length with the allegations against lion hunting and the campaigns to ban hunting and trophy imports. He concludes that this would be counterproductive, as far as the future
of lions is concerned. And by the way: In those countries where they are not hunted, they are mostly already exterminated
or at high risk. “The main dangers for the existing lion populations are the loss of habitat, the expansion of humans into lion country, conflicts with people (which often result in the killing
of lions by pastoralists after cattle losses)
and bush meat poaching.“

Somerville admits that emotionally it may be seen by some as a contradiction, but nevertheless he concludes: “Sustainable lion hunting does not endanger the populations anywhere. In Southern Africa, where numbers have grown,
regulated hunting is part of the strategy to protect them.”

As a result of his studies, he sees the reduction of conflict between
animals and humans as central to the future of these wonderful carnivores. Local communities must benefit from lions on their land
, not least as compensation for the damages they suffer. This book can be highly recommended to anyone interested in the future of lions and sustainable hunting, provided his or her English suffices.


(1) Somerville, Keith: Ivory. Power and Poaching in Africa.
London 2016. Hurst & Company.

 Somerville, Keith: Humans and Lions. Conflict, Conservation and Coexistence. Milton Park 2019. Routledge


Source: Working translation from Jagdzeit International (Germany), Vol. 4/2019