Last month, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia T. Masebo, announced that specific hunting licenses would be suspended as they had “been abused to the extent they threatened animal populations.”
This week the Zambian government banned lion and leopard hunting across the board, citing that populations have abruptly declined in recent years.
Botswana has decreed a country-wide ban on sport hunting to begin on January 1, 2014. Botswanan President Ian Khama noted, “The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna.”
Kenya banned trophy hunting and dealing in wildlife in 1977. Trophy hunting was properly cited at the time by the new Kenyan government as “a barbaric relic of colonialism.”
Lions have disappeared from over 80% of their historic range, and their population declined by nearly 50% from just 1980 to 2002. The threats facing African lions today are numerous and reinforcing: habitat destruction and fragmentation, loss of traditional prey species, disease, and inevitable conflict with humans—to wit: unsustainable trophy hunting and commercial trade in lion parts.
Lust for trophies
The United States is by far the world’s largest importer of both commercially traded African lion parts and lion trophies. Over half of all the lions killed each year are shot by American trophy hunters.
As a grotesque example of the lack of empathy for wildlife of those who kill animals for sport, the majority of hunted lions in South Africa are bred like cattle in electrified wire pens, then released to be shot by rich European and Americans. Currently captive raised animals can be shot legally in some provinces just FOUR DAYS after being released from captivity. When animals are stalked in a confined area it is known as “canned hunting.”
Help protect African lions from hunters
With lion populations endangered throughout a significant portion of their range they meet the criteria of an Endangered listing under the Endangered Species Act. The United States government and Americans should heed the alarms sounded by African countries to protect their wildlife and move away from killing for sport.
Sign this petition to list the African lion as Endangered under the ESA. An endangered listing will prohibit the importation of lion trophies into the US and and remove one of the biggest incentives for participating in this blood sport which is contributing to the continuing decline of the species.
Needless killing of endangered species for trophies is inherently unsustainable, economically short-sighted, ecologically unsound, and morally wrong.