The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), along with a coalition of wildlife groups, has petitioned to list the African lion ((Panthera leo leo) under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listing the species as Endangered would prohibit lion trophy importation into the U.S., an essential step to reversing the current decline of the population, according to IFAW. The African lion is the only big cat not protected under the ESA.
By Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare
Stopping unsustainable trophy hunting is the single biggest influence that Americans can have on disappearing African lions. The U.S. is responsible for importing over half of all lions brought home by trophy hunters each year—an issue that is exacerbating the already rapid decline of the species.
Now, as few as 32,000 African lions are estimated to be left in the wild. There has already been a more than a 50 percent decline in the population in the past 30 years. How many more dismal statistics do we have to see to recognize that the species is in dire straits? [Lion Numbers Plunge as African Wilderness Succumbs to Human Pressure.]
To combat further unnecessary bloodshed of an imperiled species, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), along with a coalition of wildlife groups, petitioned the U.S. government to list African lions under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). Listing the African lion as Endangered would generally prohibit lion trophy importation into the U.S., an important step to reversing the current decline of the population and the most direct way we as Americans can help protect them.
The African lion is the only big cat not protected under the ESA. The U.S. government determined further consideration of the listing is warranted and the majority of Americans believe this species deserves protection. A recent Synovate eNation poll found that 90 percent of Americans believe the U.S. government should take action to prevent trophy hunting of African lions endangered with extinction, and 83 percent think that the U.S. government should support international efforts to end the commercial trade of lion products.
With the help and support of the American public, we can ensure an Endangered listing under the ESA, which will provide a necessary protective measure for imperiled African lions. Understand that we all have an important role in determining the fate of the species. Answer the roar of the lion. Go to www.helpafricanlions.org . Give this magnificent creature the opportunity to roam the African plains and remain a symbol of courage for years to come.