Likely to be watered down.....
The deadline for proposals to be considered at the upcoming CITES Conference of Parties closed on April 27th. We can now examine the whole list, and CITES Member States and some organizations have the opportunity of sending comments to the CITES Secretariat in the coming months.
LionAid was delighted to see that ten African nations put forward a proposal to list lions on CITES Appendix I – the highest level of protection from commercial trade (with caveats as explained below).
These ten nations are Niger, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Rwanda and Togo.
Niger, the primary sponsor, sent the proposal to a diversity of other lion range states before submission. I have capitalized those countries I would have expected to join, but none of the following replied: Angola, BOTSWANA, ETHIOPIA, KENYA, MALAWI, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, SOUTH SUDAN, Swaziland, Tanzania, UGANDA, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This does not indicate a lack of support that could well develop at the Conference.
Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and South Sudan previously expressed concern about commercial utilization of lions.
The submission is in French, and CITES has promised a translation in due course. It can be read here:
In my opinion, there will be opposition to this listing from a number of African lion range states that allow trophy hunting, and from organizations (which cannot vote but can work “behind the scenes") like the IUCN and WWF – and of course all the pro-hunting organizations. It will be a numbers game of eventual votes once again at CITES rather than the application of a scientific rationale, and hopefully the eventual vote will be made public.
There could be two outcomes – the nations that promote trophy hunting could be outvoted, in which case lions would be placed on Appendix I. Expect some of those nations to take exception, in which case the Appendix I designation would not immediately apply to them.
The more likely outcome is that western and central African lions are placed on Appendix I, while other populations remain on Appendix II. This is the same sort of scenario applying to rhino and elephant populations in Africa.
But even if lions are placed on Appendix I, this would not mean a cessation of trophy hunting. For many lion trophy importing countries like China, Mexico, Russia and the UAE trophies are still listed as “personal and household effects” and are not seen as commerce. Cheetahs, for example, are listed on CITES Appendix I, but the EU still allows hunting trophy imports. Nevertheless, an Appendix I listing would require hunting quotas to be set in agreement with CITES rather than being the sole prerogative of the exporting nations.
So fingers crossed......