Lions Are At Risk
Over the past 50 years Africa's lion populations have plummeted from over 200,000 individuals back in the 1960's to fewer than 25,000 today. A shocking number if you consider the size of that continent, and by far the greatest number of remaining lion populations are small, scattered, and highly vulnerable.
There have been many conservation foundations working to improve the lot of the African lion, but sadly to date the declines have not abated. In fact the rate of decline in lion numbers is accelerating. Ghana, Coted’Ivoire, and Congo are the latest African countries added to long list that have lost all their lions, and Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda predict local extinctions in the next ten years.
While many factors are listed as contributory to the overall decline in lion population numbers (including loss of habitat, conflict with growing human and livestock populations, declines in the number of functioning protected areas, etc), trophy hunting is a highly significant and immediately preventable source of additive mortality. The CITES Trade Database lists a total of 6,652 lion trophies exported 2000-2009, virtually all males. This number very likely exceeds lions killed as "problem" animals due to livestock and human attacks: as one example, between 1992 and 1998, 135 lions were reportedly killed as problem animals in northern Botswana. During that same time, 198 trophies were exported from the same area. Lion trophy hunting is not a sustainable practice, does not comply with CITES and EC WTR regulations that trade should not negatively affect species’ conservation status, and should be abolished.
LionAid - Doing things differently
A new approach is clearly needed, and LionAid is committed to identifying solutions that WILL make a difference. We have identified the following priorities:
- Educate the general public as to what is actually happening to our top African predator; there remains an overall high degree of unawareness of the huge decline of lions and contributory causes.
- Convince the UK Government and the EU to effect a ban on the importation of lion trophies and indeed all lion products. While the UK only imports a small percentage of the total trophy lions shot, Spain, France, and Germany together imported 120 trophies per year between 2000 and 2009. The USA might be the largest importer of lion trophies, but European nations are strong contributors to lion declines especially in western Africa.
- Conduct meetings to speed progress towards an import ban with UK/EU Member State parliamentarians, Members of European Parliament, the European Parliament Intergroup on Animal Welfare and Conservation, the Associated Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare (UK), and the EC Commissioner for Environment.
- Bring African lions on the agenda of the EC Wildlife Trade Regulation Scientific Review Group to evaluate their status given current trade offtake. This is especially urgent for central and western African lions that are genetically distinct, occur in small and scattered populations, are declining at a rapid rate ... but still are trophy hunted.
- Work together with our growing list of conservation NGO partners to jointly push forward LionAid initiatives.
- Urge the IUCN to officially list central and western African lions as "regionally endangered". The IUCN Red List currently refers to a 2004 publication that mentions these lions as such, but no definitive listing has resulted.
- Accord the African lion "World Heritage Species" status with UNESCO. The Great Apes already have this status, and as lions occupy a highly important status within great diversity of cultures, all the UNESCO requirements are met.