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US Fish and Wildlife Service takes the next step for lions

In March 2011, a consortium of US conservation organizations presented a petition to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to consider the African lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act. While it took 20 months, the USFWS in November announced that the petition had merit (lions were considered to be subject to a diversity of negative factors including habitat destruction, overutilization (trophy hunting), susceptible to diseases like canine distemper and bovine tuberculosis, inadequately protected by current regulatory mechanisms, and threatened by human-lion conflict). The next step in the listing process is therefore to embark on a status review of the African lion, including a) a three-month window during which public comments are solicited on scientific, commercial and other information about lions, and b) followed by a 12-month review period during which all data will be analysed and a final decision made.

It might sound like a long and tortuous process, but a positive end result would be highly beneficial to lions in several ways, including a ban on the import into the USA of all lion products (the USA is currently responsible for about 60% of all lion trophy imports, for example) and conservation funding.

LionAid submitted a diversity of documents including our assessment of trophy hunting and lion populations and our latest population assessments based on most recent actual data and our Conservation Perception Rank of the lion range states.

We have little doubt that the review of the lions’ status will be conducted in an open and transparent fashion, and that the inflated population numbers submitted by organizations like IGF in France will be seen as the attempts of data manipulation by pro-hunting vested-interest groups they are. We would encourage the USFWS to treat the status review as urgent and perhaps reach their conclusion before the 12-month deadline. 

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Posted by Pieter Kat at 17:35

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