I thought it would be a while before we needed to say this. Or maybe lessons have been learned (doubtful) from the all-but-disappearance of the rhinos. The African lion is in danger of extinction. At least half and possibly up to 80% of the African lions have disappeared in the last 30 years. At that rate everyone reading this is likely to see a lion-less day. Extinction factors like habitat loss, human-lion conflict, poaching (for the Far East), loss of prey animals, and overutilization for commercial/recreational purposes (including hunting) are only accelerating, all threatening the 35,000 African lions left in the wild. The US Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act — and if even they make such a suggestion, you know things are pretty dire. Such a listing helps threatened species by prohibiting certain trade activities, generating conservation benefits (increased awareness, research, funding for on site efforts), and providing limited financial aid for programs to conserve the species in foreign countries.
This Endangered Species Act ‘threatened’ listing still doesn’t stop the import of so-called “sport”-hunted lions into the US. A special rule has been proposed (that also applies to other protected species)that would only allow the import of “sport”-hunted lion trophies from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for African lions. The US Fish & Wildlife Department is seeking public comment on listing African lions as threatened. So please, follow the directions below, helpfully provided by PAWS in California:
Click here to go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal. In the Search field, enter FWS-R9-ES-2012-0025, which is the docket number for this action. Then click on the Search button. You may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!” and typing your comment into the box.
Sample comment (please edit and personalize your comment as much as possible):
I strongly urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the African lion as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act. Given the alarming decrease in the lion population and the serious challenges these animals face, it is critical that our nation takes an active part in protecting this iconic species. If we don’t act now, African lions will soon disappear from the planet.
By listing the African lion as “endangered,” the U.S. will set a standard for other countries to follow, promote conservation, and provide greater protection for these imperiled animals.