Zambia bans hunting of lions and leopards

image captionThere are thought to be no more than about 4,500 lions in Zambia

Zambia has banned the hunting of lions and leopards because of the rapid decline in its numbers of big cats.

Zambia's tourism minister said there was more value in game-viewing tourism than blood sport, which brought in just $3m (£1.9m) last year.

Sylvia Masebo said the country did not have enough cats for hunting purposes.

"Tourists come to Zambia to see the lion and if we lose the lion we will be killing our tourism industry," she told Reuters.

But Chuma Simukonda from the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) said the ban would be bad for tourism.

"The population of cats in Zambia is around 3,400 to 3,500 and with the ban on safari hunting for cats, we are likely to lose on revenue," he told the AFP news agency.

He said about 55 cats were killed by hunters each year.

Neighbouring Botswana is banning all sport hunting from 2014, while Kenya halted hunting for sport decades ago.

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