The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rejected the claim that the African lion merits listing as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. After a long and comprehensive review of the species status, which included information from the foremost lion researchers in the world, the FWS concluded that the African lion simply is not on the brink of extinction and did not merit listing as an endangered species. Nevertheless the lion will be listed as “threatened” due to a rapidly increasing human population in Africa, which leads to habitat loss, loss of prey-base, and increased lion-human conflict, usually in the form of killings in retaliation for lion attacks on livestock. The FWS decided that lion hunting is “not … a threat to the species at this time,” and that well-managed hunting can provide important conservation benefits for the lion.
This decision is a blow to US anti-hunting organizations which are fighting for an import ban of lion hunting trophies. However, according to Safari Club International eighty percent of US voters agree that while they care about the future of the African lion, there are higher priorities that need to be addressed in the United States. The FWS should focus on those species found here, that the government actually has the ability to manage.
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Author: Rolf D Baldus