Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Hunting for sustainability : lion conservation in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Brink, Henry (2011) Hunting for sustainability : lion conservation in Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94235) (KAR id:94235)


The Selous Game Reserve (SGR) in Tanzania, at 47,500km² is large, and is reliant on trophy hunting by tourists for revenue. The study of lions (Panthera leo) in SGR therefore offers the opportunity to investigate sustainable resource utilization as a tool in conservation. Using a combination of methods the lion population of SGR was estimated at 4300 (range 1700-6900), representing Africa’s largest lion population. The north and west of the reserve had higher densities of lions. The population of an 800km² intensively studied area in northern SGR at Matambwe has remained relatively constant since 1997, but the adult sex ratio has decreased from roughly 1 male : 1.3 female in 1997 to 1 male : 3 females in 2009.

The ecology of the Matambwe lions of northern SGR was studied from 2006-2009, and lion distribution in this area was best explained by lean or dry season prey biomass. Two different methods were used to work out the lion carrying capacity. Environmental and anthropogenic factors that best explained lion distribution in northern SGR were distance to the reserve boundary and villages and soil type of an area.

The SGR is divided into 43 hunting blocks which are leased by companies. The management of trophy hunting in SGR and Tanzania is driven by a quota system set through educated guesswork by the government for each hunting block. Based on a study of lion hunting off-take, a reduction of the lion hunting quota to one lion 1000km⁻² for SGR is suggested. Attempts to estimate the lion population per hunting block and then suggest a quota based on a figure below ten percent of the adult male population also leads to a reduction in the hunting quota.

The impact that length of block tenure by companies has on trophy hunting of lions in SGR was investigated. The blocks in SGR with the most lions shot 1000km⁻² annually were the blocks that experienced the steepest declines in trophy offtake from 1996 to 2008 and tended to be under short-term tenure. These short-term blocks, however, brought in the greatest amount of revenue for the government.

The important factor in the long-term survival of the lion will be human attitudes and actions. Detailed interviews with key informants and general questionnaires highlighted many different possible ways to reform lion trophy hunting in SGR. Many of the necessary reforms are not new, yet there seems to be reluctance to embrace these reforms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94235
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 14:12 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2023 16:09 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.