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Trophy hunter killed while stalking lions

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, February 1, 2018, 3:33 PM - A Croatian trophy hunter has been shot dead while hunting lions bred in captivity in South Africa.

Pero Jelinic, 75, was killed by a stray bullet Saturday at Leeubosch Lodge farm near Stetlagole. At the time, he was stalking a lion with two other hunters. It's not clear who fired the fatal shot, the BBC reports.

Police are investigating the incident. The hunters may have been using illegal guns.

Jelinic, a trophy hunter who has traveled the world to track animals, had already killed one lion that day.

Animal rights activists are pushing for South Africa to ban the killing of lions bred in captivity. The country is the world's largest exporter of animal carcass trophies.

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Lions in trouble: Fast facts

  • The African lion isn't considered an endangered species. It's currently listed as "vulnerable" by the IUCN, an authority on species conservation. Because of this, lions aren't any protection against habitat decline sport hunting.  
  • Two-thousand years ago, more than a million lions roamed Africa. Today, only about 30,000 remain. 
  • In the last five decades nearly 75% of the Savannah that lions call home have vanished, mostly due to human expansion.
  • The remaining 25% of the Savannah has been rendered uninhabitable due to deforestation.
  • An estimated 665 lions are hunted and exported each year. 

The Big Cat Initiative

In addition to lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards and jaguars, among others are also quickly disappearing -- all victims of habitat loss, sport hunting and human activity.

In response to this critical situation, the National Geographic Society has launched the Big Cats Initiative. The program supports conservation, education, and economic incentive efforts while raising global awareness.

“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck Joubert, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence and chair of the program. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now."

Sources: BBC | IUCN | Big Cat Initiative | Photo credit: Facebook

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