The reason why this ban was put in place is because most of these “trophy hunts”, especially in South Africa, are “canned hunts” where captive-bred lions are placed into pens to be shot. While there may be some evidence that well managed hunting or culling may help wild populations of lions, this is just shooting a zoo animal — nobody profits except the owner of the hunting ranch. I explained this further in a different thread:
The South African government actively supports a legal, multimillion dollar “lion farming” industry which tricks well-meaning volunteers into raising cubs for slaughter. About 70% of all South Africa’s lions live in these farms, which breed lions in battery cages by the hundreds, rip the newborn cubs from their mothers, and send the cubs to fake “rehabilitation” programs and rescues to be raised by paying volunteers who are usually told that the cubs were “orphaned,” “rejected by their mothers” or that the facility is a conservation program breeding lions to be “released into the wild.” The volunteers think they’re helping animals, but what they don’t know is that after they go home, the cubs they helped raise will be sold to canned hunting ranches, where they will be turned out into a fenced yard and shot by a trophy hunter who paid thousands of dollars for a “guaranteed kill.”
Lions which aren’t considered “trophy quality” are typically used as breeding stock or literally sent to lion slaughterhouses which slaughter them in order to legally export their bones to Asia for use as “tiger bone” in traditional remedies. Last summer, South Africa doubled their bone export quota to allow for as many as 1,500 lion skeletons to be exported legally each year. This legal trade has signaled to poachers that lion bones have value, leading to a huge spike in the poaching of wild lions. Even lions in legitimate South African sanctuaries aren’t safe. The South African government is now so beholden to the lion farming lobby that they’re even trying to confiscate a rescued white lion from a sanctuary and auction him off to trophy hunters in order to fund more lion farms in the country.
Meanwhile, populations of wild lions are in a “catastrophic decline,” having diminished by 43 percent over the past 20 years. With fewer than 20,000 lions remaining on the entire African continent (compared with over 100,000 in 1994) there are now far fewer wild lions than elephants, rhinos, orangutans, or giraffes.
Lions are already extinct in 26 African nations and their populations continue to decline rapidly in all but the largest and best managed national parks due to habitat loss, retaliatory killings, and poaching. Biologists warn that without urgent funding for conservation, the rest of Africa’s lions are expected to go extinct within a few decades. While some of that funding can come from well-managed hunting, not all trophy hunting is ethical or sustainable. The situation in South Africa is so out of control that the UK introduced the ban on lion trophies to encourage them to clean up their act.