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US recreational hunters

Representing 0.00006% of Americans


In their latest attempt to influence Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Safari Club International have asked their members to continue to try to make their case against listing lions on the US Endangered Species Act. If that should happen, US recreational hunters will not be able to import their lion trophies any longer.

SCI has asked their members to sign a letter that contains the following:

“As hunter-conservationists, we are opposed to the listing of the African Lion as an endangered species.

A decision to list the lion on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would destroy the conservation benefits lawful hunting provides for the overall management of lions throughout Africa. We hope your decision is based on the science, laws, information and regulations provided to you by the African nations.

At a workshop convened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the foremost African lion experts clearly outlined that the species is NOT on the brink of extinction in the wild. Rather, the lion is actually protected in the majority of its range.”

This is of course the typical nonsense that SCI asks their members to believe – the USFWS did indeed organize a meeting but it hardly involved “the foremost African lion experts”. One of them, Paula White who is based in Zambia is significantly funded by SCI. She has been attempting for some time to find a way off aging lions by using X-rays of teeth (after the lion has been shot) to guide “sustainable hunting”. Of course, the model that she is attempting to use is based on the “six-year” rule invented by Craig Packer (who was also present) – a computer model that proposes that by shooting male lions over six-years old there is no impact on the population. Packer says you don’t even need quotas if hunters stick to those rules. His “model” has been widely criticized – in most well-studied lion populations male lions at six years have only just taken over prides and are experiencing their first significant reproductive opportunities.

As for claiming that the lion is protected in the majority of its range this is more nonsense – why would lions then be suffering such dramatic declines? Perhaps because those associated with lion hunting invent lion numbers to suit their own agendas.

But that aside, why does the SCI believe it has so much power with the USFWS and members of Congress (letters have also been written there)? It is certainly not an organization that represents substantial numbers of US Citizens with only 50,000 members, by far the greatest majority of whom have very little interest in lion trophy hunting.

In fact, looking at the number of lion trophies exported to the US, it comes to 5,448 over the ten years 2003-2012. Doubtless substantial, but 3,617 of those come from South Africa – canned hunts. The SCI always says that lion hunting benefits communities and governments, keeps wild areas (hunting concessions) for lions intact, and prevents poaching in areas where hunters are active. Leaving aside the lack of substance of those claims, shooting captive bred lions by definition only benefits the lion breeders.

Therefore “only” 1,831 wild lions were hunted by Americans 2003-2012, or an average of 183 per year. This translates to 0.6 lion hunters per million US residents. Hardly a political force – the Flat Earth Society, for example, has 1.3 members per million US residents! In other words, while SCI might be very vocal, they have a completely misplaced sense of self-importance.

Picture: Rann Safaris

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Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:34

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