A chance for the American public to help protect African lions

The African lion population and range is in peril. Over the past three decades the African lion populations declined by more than 50 percent as a result of over-exploitation by recreational trophy hunting and commercial trade, loss of habitat and prey species, retaliatory killings, disease, and other human-caused and natural factors. It is estimated that in 1980, almost 76,000 wild lions could be found in Africa. Surveys now estimate that as few as 32,000 are left in all of Africa and nearly 75 percent of their historic range is gone.

Lions are currently the only great cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  Such a listing would result in considerable public attention to the plight of lions, as well as new controls on the import of lion trophies by Americans, and a ban on consumption and trade in lion parts in the US.  With Americans being responsible for over 60 percent of sport-hunted lion trophies being exported from Africa, an Endangered listing would significantly curb this trade.

To help save lions, on March 1, 2011 IFAW, along with a coalition of other wildlife organizations, filed a petition with the Department of the Interior to protect African Lions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  On November 26th, 2012, the government issued a finding in favor of continuing the listing process. It is critical that the government receives hundreds of thousands of notes from Americans urging it to protect lions by going forward with an Endangered listing.  Such an overwhelming outpouring of support is necessary to empower the US government to protect the species in the face of loud protests that will certainly come from special interest trophy hunters.

IFAW is calling for America to show leadership, take action and inspire the international conservation community.  Jeff Flocken, IFAW DC Office Director has stated, “The US could become a leader in protecting wild lions, rather than a contributor to the disappearance of wild lions from Africa. By listing this species as Endangered, the import of lion trophies into the US would be prohibited, and the “trophy” incentive for Americans to sport hunt them would be gone."