NEW YORK — A new study of lion deaths and trophy hunting in the occupied West Bank finds lions have been killed and trophies hunted to satisfy Israel’s need to keep the population under control.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday.
It comes amid mounting concern that lion hunting could threaten the livelihoods of some Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.
The researchers interviewed a handful of West Bank residents and found that many were not aware that trophy hunting of lions in Israel’s West Bank is illegal, said the study’s lead author, Eitan Golan, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The study comes after several recent reports of lions being killed in Israel for sport, often in the name of the Israeli government.
A 2015 study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources found that lions killed for Israel’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPS) were being targeted for trophy hunting, and some were even killed with live ammunition.
Last year, the International Fund for Animal Welfare reported that lions were killed by Israelis in the Westbank for trophy hunts.
Golan’s research focuses on how lion populations are managed in Israel, including the NPS.
It was conducted with researchers from the Israeli Wildlife Service, the Israeli National Parks Authority, and from the Zoological Society of London.
The report found that lion numbers in the northern and eastern parts of the West is stable and that lion populations in the central West Bank are recovering.
It also found that there was no decline in lion populations outside the NPA-administered territories.
Israel has not released any figures regarding lion population numbers in West Bank, but it says the population is estimated at about 2,000.