2 subspecies of lion will be added to the endangered species list, activists say

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

2 subspecies of lion will be added to the endangered species list, activists say.

Six months after Cecil the lion was hunted and killed by a Minnesota dentist, it is unlikely that any lion trophies will ever again be imported legally into the United States. I applaud the FWS for taking this action, formally ending the free-for-all for Americans who wish to kill these animals and import them through our ports with no meaningful scrutiny or oversight.The listings will be announced Monday and include an order that appears to touch on circumstances surrounding the killing of a well-known lion named Cecil (SEH’-sihl) earlier this year. Lions in central and West Africa will be listed as endangered, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service, which is expected to announce the change on Monday. These new regulations will take away a primary motivation for American hunters to kill the lions, since they almost certainly will not be able to bring the lions’ heads and hides back into our country.

By highlighting the plight of the animals, and restricting gratuitous killing, the listing decision should encourage photographic tourism and other forms of wildlife appreciation. The Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil pleaded guilty in 2008 to making false statements to federal wildlife officials about a black bear killed outside an authorized hunting zone. And although the decision is not the direct result of Cecil’s death, but rather new data, he said, “it would be impossible to ignore the public outcry” and its effect on worldwide opinion.

A study released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature this summer indicated there are fewer than 30,000 lions still living in Africa, and that their numbers have declined by 60 percent over the past 20 years. They describe the new requirement as redoubling efforts to ensure that violators of wildlife laws aren’t allowed to import wildlife or wildlife product. To acquire a permit, a hunter will have “to demonstrate that the hunting and the trophy enhance survival of the species,” said Teresa Telecky, the director of wildlife at the Humane Society International.

The African Hunting Exposition in Canada recently had to cancel its events after three hotels – the Saskatoon Inn, Holiday Inn Gateway Centre, and Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport – refused to host their gathering celebrating the senseless killing of wildlife. We are particularly pleased that the listing will likely prevent Americans from importing lions killed on captive hunting ranches in South Africa, an appalling practice that was recently exposed in the Blood Lions documentary (broadcast on MSNBC), where lion cubs are bred for profit, first to be used in cub petting and interactive experiences, and then sold to unskilled hunters in search of an easy, guaranteed kill. Officials in Zimbabwe say Cecil was illegally lured by Palmer’s hunting guide to private land from the Hwange National Park, where he was the showpiece attraction for visitors because of his distinctive black mane.

For symbolic and practical reasons, this is one of the most consequential American actions for African wildlife, along with the U.S. decision to crack down on the ivory and rhino horn trade and the listing of all chimpanzees as endangered. In the months since, France has banned the import of lion trophies, and Britain has said it will do so in 2017, barring “significant improvement in the performance of the hunting industry.” More than 40 airlines have also said they will no longer transport hunting trophies. “This is huge, and we’re really excited,” said Jeffrey Flocken, the North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which was also a petitioner. These creatures have their own desires to live, and we shouldn’t snuff them out for bragging rights and a higher perch in the pantheon of the trophy-hunting world. What followed his identification, however, was weeks of worldwide vitriol that forced Palmer to temporarily close his practice and move with his family into hiding. The federal government cannot regulate hunting in other countries, but because many trophy hunters are American, the tougher standards for imports could reduce the number of lions killed by hunters. “We will be looking to see how the U.S.F.W.S. substantiates its final rule, as we currently believe the record of information fails to justify this listing,” said Joseph Hosmer, the president of the Safari Club International Foundation, referring to the wildlife agency.

The foundation and other pro-hunting organizations, as well as many Africans, argue that the money from sport hunting in Africa helps poor countries maintain robust conservation programs and provides aid to local residents. Bauer said. “Under this new ruling, countries must not only prove that hunting is not bad for lions; they must prove that it is good for lions.” He added: “Many have challenged the hunting industry to show some figures to support their claim that the revenues from lion hunting support lion conservation, but the industry has been notoriously opaque and has long resisted calls for reform. This must now change.” Currently, lions are listed under Appendix 2 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which comprises species that are not yet threatened with extinction but may become so. Packer said corruption “subverts any good conservation practices in these hunting blocks.” He added that bad behavior by hunting companies and government officials should have consequences.

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