Lions live on the grassy, open savannahs of Africa, not in the jungle. But the regal cat still sits atop the list of big-game trophies. Conservationists say that lion hunting is one of the most lucrative trophy hunts, with each outing bringing in up to $71,000 on average, which includes the trophy fee, a professional guide, transportation and lodging.
Dr. Walter J. Palmer, the American dentist who killed Cecil, a beloved lion, in Zimbabwe last month, reportedly paid around $54,000.
Overhunting has caused a decrease in the number of lions in some areas, especially Tanzania, according to a 2012 study, and hunting has been restricted there. But the researchers behind that study concluded that hunting was less of a risk than an outright ban.
Without the trophy hunt money, locals would increasingly poison lions, which are considered dangerous to humans and livestock, said Vernon Booth, a Zimbabwe-based ecologist.