U.S. Government Lists African Lions as Threatened Under Endangered Species Act

U.S. Government Lists African Lions as Threatened  Under Endangered Species Act
Monday, 27 October, 2014
Washington, D.C

In response to the petition submitted by Born Free USA, Humane Society International (HSI), The Humane Society of the United States, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and other animal protection groups, today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing African lions as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Additionally, a special rule was proposed along with the listing, which requires permits for the import of sport-hunted lion trophies, which should only be issued for lions originating from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for the species. A strong permitting system is critical because the U.S. imports over half of the hundreds of lion trophies brought home by trophy hunters globally each year.

“Lion numbers have declined by more than half in the last three decades. To allow trophy hunting to continue unabated is kicking an animal while it’s already down,” said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare. “We thank the U.S. government for acknowledging that this iconic species is in grave trouble and that unsustainable trophy hunting is a part of this problem.”

In the past three decades, the number of African lions in the wild has dropped by more than 50 percent, with potentially fewer than 32,000 remaining today.  A recent study found that the West African lion population is critically imperiled with roughly 400 lions in total found in only four protected areas (down from 21 in 2005). And the most current estimates state that there are little more than 2,000 lions left in Central Africa; 18,000 in East Africa and 11,000 in Southern Africa.

“Lion populations and the habitat available to them have diminished dramatically in recent years due to trophy hunting, bone trade, meat and organ consumption, disease, and agricultural expansion,” noted Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Born Free USA. “Born Free and our partners on the ground in Africa will keep vigilant watch on lions and lion trade to ensure that the government’s decision today enhances conservation. The lion has no margin for error.”

“A threatened species listing for African lions will help ensure that American trophy hunters stop contributing to the decline of African lions,” said Teresa Telecky, Director, Wildlife Department, Humane Society International. “While we are disappointed that the U.S. government appears poised to continue allowing the import of some lion trophies, it’s vital that protective trophy import standards be put in place and that there will be transparency in that process. American hunters import about 400 trophies of wild lions each year, so we hope that the ESA protection will significantly curtail this destructive activity.”

A 90-day public comment period on the USFWS proposed ruling will commence on October 29, 2014.

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About Born Free USA

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and education, Born Free USA leads campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the international wildlife trade.  Born Free USA brings to America the mission of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free:  to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation. (bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; facebook.com/bornfreeusa.)

About Born Free Foundation

Born Free Foundation, based in England, is an international organization devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare.  Born Free Foundation takes action worldwide to protect threatened species, stop individual animal suffering, and keep wildlife in the wild. Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide each year.  (bornfree.org.uk)

About The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our 60 years of transformational change for animals, and visit us online at humanesociety.org.

About Humane Society International

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  Photos and video available at www.ifawimages.com.

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