Tourist safari hunting is one of the founding supporters of wildlife and wild Africa today.
Wildlife today does not exist by accident or without real management effort. The hunting is a purposefully designed conservation strategy formed by experts to conserve game and habitat and benefit the local people who ultimately determine the survival of the habitat and game.
Hunting areas are far larger than other protected areas. Eliminate the hunting and you eliminate crucial wildlife habitat, particularly lion habitat and lion prey (essential food) — hence most lions.
The hunts are expensive because the hunting is used to fund most of the operating budgets of the wildlife departments and conservation infrastructure. That includes the funding of most anti-poaching. The law enforcement funding pays for community game guards, hunting operator anti-poaching teams and the rangers of the wildlife departments — all three.