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A tale of two consirators  

A number of conservation organizations submitted a proposal to the US Government on the 1st March 2011 for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to consider African lions as an endangered species, thereby preventing all further lion product imports into the USA.

Of course, the biggest “lion product import” is lion trophies that US citizens are highly engaged in collecting all over Africa.

Progress of the petition was glacial. In November 2012 (20 months later) the USFWS said the proposal “had merit” and called for further deliberations. On 27th November 2014 the USFWS announced that they proposed a listing of “threatened” for African lions and would require another 90 day period for public submissions to proceed to actually have African lions listed as such.

It took the USFWS about 45 months to come to this conclusion, and now another 3 months to evaluate and probably another 6 months to finalize.

Where did it all go so wrong?

I would evaluate this as follows:

  1. Pro-hunting organizations like SCI and DSC raised a “war chest” in excess of $1.2 million to lobby and engage with their sympathetic scientists. 
  2. The USFWS accepted highly dubious lion population numbers remaining in Africa. For example, they accepted population estimates from a French pro-hunting organization, two IUCN estimates based on opinions from delegates at lion meetings, a Duke University estimate based on remote sensing. As a result, the USFWS was led to believe, based on satellite imagery of “available” lion habitat and postal questionnaires that there are something like 32,000 lions in Africa. 
  3. All actual ground surveys have come up with far fewer lions. The total is more like 15,000.
  4. The USFWS rejected information to consider western African lions as a separate genetic entity. They only accept that there are African lions and Asian lions. This is a highly selective interpretation, and dismissive of highly convincing and replicated genetic evidence. 
  5. The USFWS employs a number of scientists. Doubtless they are busy on a daily basis to advise on various issues, but equally they should engage with the opinions of other international scientists. Those in the European Union have designated western African lions as “highly endangered” while the USFWS seesm to have some different opinion. Australia will no longer allow lion product imports as Australian scientists consider African lions endangered. 
  6. The USFWS accepts that “conservation hunting” of lions is not a threat. Surprising, as there has not been a SINGLE survey of lion populations in hunting concessions. The hunters do not allow independent surveys in concessions. The USFWS does, strangely, not accept that trophy hunting has significant consequences on lion social structure and future reproductive potential… (????). 
  7. The USFWS has after 45 months not conducted due diligence in terms of a real assessment of the threats to lions from US trophy hunters. However… they now have made a compromise to scrutinize future trophy imports based on a requirement of exporting countries to have scientifically based lion conservation programmes in place and that the expenditure of hunting related revenue is proven to be spent directly on lion conservation. Also, the USFWS decided to propose what is known as a 4(d) rule for the lion. The rule, if finalized, “will establish a permitting mechanism to allow importation of sport-hunted African lion trophies into the United States PROVIDED that they are established as originating from countries with a scientifically sound management plan for the African lion.” I would argue that, as of today, that will not include Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cameroon, Central African Republic and others where US trophy hunters, the hunting operators and indeed the governments pay little more than lip service to lion conservation. None of these countries has a scientifically based lion conservation programme in place and none of these countries have therefore attended to the USFWS requirement of regular lion population surveys. A national lion conservation plan by an African nation, unless paid attention to, is not worth the paper it is written on, and the USFWS will have difficulty establishing how well such plans are implemented. 
  8. The USFWS does not consider with any necessary concern the huge captive lion trophy hunting industry in South Africa. This is again a deplorable oversight. While captive raised lions offered for trophy hunting are not equivalent to wild lions, the USFWS should have addressed this issue with due attention. The USFWS is opposed to the captive breeding of tigers in China and prohibits all such resulting products as US imports. The USFWS should treat captive bred lions with the same level of prohibitions. 
  9. The USFWS still believes that trophy hunting of lions is beneficial to conservation of the species. In that case, why did the USFWS place a moratorium on trophy hunting imports of elephants from Tanzania and Zimbabwe citing a lack of conservation contribution of trophy hunting? What is good for the goose should be good for the gander.

So where do we go from here?

The Safari Club International is calling for funding to overturn the need for there to be ANY national conservation plan for lions in the countries where they are hunted. Meanwhile, LionAid will write to the USFWS with our concerns about their conclusions, but we do not have the funds to travel to Washington to lobby more effectively. The current USFWS plan will likely go through, and the current public comment period is likely not much more than window dressing.

Meanwhile, LionAid will continue to push for much better restrictions on lion trophy imports within the EU, and we will also continue to push hard for lion hunting moratoria in the exporting countries. Perhaps the USFWS was always a bridge too far?


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 10:53

Yorkshire Wildlife Park event cancelled

Friday 31st October 2014

 YWP fundraiserWe are sorry to inform you all that the event which was due to be held at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park on the 15th November has had to be cancelled.

This was due to poor ticket sales and we are as disappointed as I am sure the few who had purchased tickets to attend must be. We promoted the event widely on our social media pages but it was probably too far to travel for most of our followers.

The event would have benefited from some promotion by the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, as joint recipient of the fundraiser, but unfortunately such promotion did not materialise.

We have refunded the few tickets that were bought directly through LionAid and we understand that Martin Fowkes is organising a refund of the tickets that he has supplied.

We thank Martin very much for all the hard work we know he put in, and we know he is also disappointed that it has not resulted in raising much needed funds for our lion conservation work.

We apologise to all those who purchased tickets and we hope that we can maybe put on a similar event next year with John Rendall if there is sufficient interest, perhaps closer to London where many more people would be able to attend.


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:27

Ricky Gervais supports LionAid!!

Thursday 30th October 2014

Ricky Gervais 2


We are very excited to share with you the latest news regarding our efforts to raise funding for our most urgent projects.

Earlier this month we received the welcome news that LionAid has been successful in the first stage of a vigorous application process for funding. Part of the qualifying criteria for the second stage is that we need to match a proportion of the proposed funding though donations and sponsorship by the end of December 2014.

Jane Fallon

We have approached a number of businesses and will be holding a talk followed by a charity auction on 8th December in London. The event has been arranged specifically to attract much needed long-term corporate sponsorship and is an invitation only ticketed event. Ricky Gervais (and other celebrities) have very kindly donated paintings/artwork for us to auction as part of fundraising on the night. The picture above is a wonderful oil painting by Ricky Gervais and the one on the left is a charismatic lion drawing from Jane Fallon.


* STOP PRESS* We have a limited number of tickets available to the live auction of the original artworks on 8th December 2014. Minimum donation of £100 per ticket. These will be sold on a first come first served basis and are limited to 4 tickets per application. If you or your company are interested in attending, please contact us via  and we will be happy to forward you an application form.

We are grateful to you for all your donations large or small, and remind you that you can give at any time by visiting our website or following this link.

We will keep you posted on our application process and look forward to giving you an update on the auction after the event.

Thank you for your support.


Picture credit: Ricky Gervais


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 12:29

Unfortunate video from Nivea Spain

Wednesday 29th October 2014

NIVEA SPAIN have released an unfortunate new advertisement, featuring a white lion cub.

In order to guarantee a white coat, close relatives have to be mated, resulting in severe inbreeding of these lions. This inbreeding can lead to severe abnormalities, digestive problems and usually a tragically short life.

 We should delight when a white lion cub is born naturally to tawny parents (due to a recessive gene) but we should NEVER condone breeding white lions simply for their colour.

We should certainly not be using them to promote soap.


Picture credit: Nivea

If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:28

President Sata of Zambia has died

Wednesday 29th October 2014

President Sata.


President Sata passed away yesterday. Condolences to his family and the people of Zambia.

President Sata was not in good health for some time, and we hope he will now have found peace from his suffering.

Good citizens of Zambia - you will now elect another president. Choose carefully and choose someone who will represent you well. Someone who can be entrusted with good care of your wildlife heritage and who will promote tourism to your most beautiful country as the economic driver it should be.


God Bless Zambia and all Zambians.


Picture credit: 


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 17:23

Lion Picture


LionAid is proud to be an official partner of skype classroom and we currently offer three lessons which we deliver to schools around the world through skype classroom. We offer classes to children of all ages and beyond to university students.

This is a growing area of our work and we are always delighted to interact with children across the globe about the dangers facing lions and the need for conservation.

Our presentations always include a PowerPoint presentation followed by a generally lively question and answer session. It never ceases to amaze us the intelligence of these youngsters and the huge interest they have in the topics we present. It is always a privilege to “meet” these classes over skype and it often is the case we are asked to return to deliver a second lesson.

We end the lesson by discussing ways in which the class can help spread the word about the dangers facing lions and this is always met with great enthusiasm!

So today, we received a new video, prepared by a class of 10 and 11 year olds in a school just outside Dublin in Ireland. This wonderful class, who we met over skype last week, all agreed to support our “Draw Out The Lion In You” campaign and all the children have created their pictures of lions for us to display in Trafalgar Square next Spring.  Thank you guys and gals – we can’t wait to receive all the pictures through the post.

Click on the video here to see a selection of these exquisite pictures and we are delighted (with their permission) to share them with you today.

Big thank you to Ms  Brennock's 5th Class at St. Molaga's School in Balbriggan.

If your school would like more information or would like to take part in one of our lessons over skype, please email us on for details.


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations.





1 Comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:42



Polar bear skin

No more of this in the EU?


The EU Directorate of Environment has now submitted draft changes to the EU Council and Parliament that will require import permits for hunting trophies of the following species:

White rhino
Argali (a mountain sheep from central Asia)

Polar bear

The Council and Parliament are expected to approve the changes before the end of 2014.

As we explained earlier , this gives the EU member states much greater independent control over existing CITES regulations, and allows member states to refuse imports of hunting trophies of those species for which the EU Scientific Review Group is not satisfied that the offtake is sustainable and/or that insufficient information is available about population numbers to justify continued trophy hunting offtake. In addition, existing “negative opinions” arrived at by the EU Scientific Review Group will now carry over to all hunting trophies from those listed species as well.

This greater latitude over imports of what were once items (hunting trophies were considered “household and personal effects”) exempt from trade considerations under CITES is meaningful and encouraging to say the least.

It is highly interesting to us to see inclusion of the Polar bear on this list. As you might remember, during the last CITES Conference of Parties in March 2013, the EU joined the USA and Russia among other nations to support listing of Polar bears on CITES Appendix I. This would have halted all further trade in Polar bears – but ALL EU votes were then nullified by resistance from Denmark (the EU votes as a bloc but all member states need to agree, otherwise the entire EU has to abstain, a loss of 28 votes).

The uplisting of Polar bears was defeated, but now, as with lions, the EU can make decisions independently (and more stringently) than CITES. It will be very interesting to follow the future changes of Polar bear trophies into the EU.

The USA has already banned Polar bear hunting trophies. Within the EU, Denmark (perhaps the reason for their objection) is the largest importer of Polar bear products with 150 skins alone over the five year period 2008-2012 – from a rapidly declining species? Was the information that Denmark had to resist the uplisting based on better information about the status of Polar bears not available to other nations or did the Danes bow to pressure from vested commercial interest groups in their Greenland Dependency?

These sorts of self-interested decisions will hopefully now not be able to influence trade in significantly endangered species by continued commerce, as any EU member state has the right to raise objections to further imports of products from the species now listed. That objection will now need to be dealt with scientifically rather than politically.

The EU Environment Directorate is to be thanked for this positive development, and we urge them to consider the entire issue of “sustainability” of trophy hunting offtake of a greater variety of species in the future.

 The relevant text of the EU is as follows :

“The European Commission has proposed to introduce changes to Commission Regulation 865/2006 and to Commission Implementing Regulation 792/2012.
Those changes are designed to:

introduce the requirement that import permits would need to be issued by EU Member States for the first introduction into the EU of hunting trophies of specimens of six species or populations included in Annex B of Regulation 338/97 (Ceratotherium simum simum, Hippopotamus amphibius, Loxodonta africana, Ovis ammon, Panthera leo, Ursus maritimus);

clarify that import permits should not be issued by EU Member States in cases where, despite a request to this end, they do not obtain satisfactory information from the exporting or re-exporting country as to the legality of the specimens to be imported into the EU.
In accordance with Article 19 of Regulation 338/97, the Committee on wildlife trade has given a favourable opinion to those changes.

The text of the draft Regulation amending Regulation 865/2006 has been subsequently sent to the Council and the European Parliament for their right of scrutiny. Unless the Council or the Parliament objects to the adoption of this Regulation (which can be done within a period of three months after receiving the document), the changes to Regulation 865/2006 will be adopted at the end of 2014. The adoption of the changes to Regulation 792/2012 will occur at the same time.”

Picture credit: 


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations.


Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 17:27

A great meeting with Africat Namibia.

Saturday 18th October 2014

Dad and cub


Yesterday we travelled to London to meet up with Tammy Hoth from Africat Namibia. We spent a very productive couple of hours in the afternoon with Tammy and Carey (from Africat UK) to discuss and share our thoughts on wildlife conservation and to explore ways we can progressively assist each other in the future. I think we all agreed that collaboration between truly concerned wildlife charities is the way forward as we all have valuable knowledge and experiences that can benefit one another. And most certainly, the more we can all stand together to fight those that seem hell-bent on destroying our precious wildlife, the better it will be.

Africat has been working to save the large carnivores of Namibia since 1993. Like LionAid, they strongly believe that we need to engage rural communities if long-term conservation is to succeed in these areas. Our predator/conflict mitigation project in Kenya has overlapping similarities with their programme in Namibia and we are certain we can all benefit from sharing knowledge gained in our respective projects.

Their strapline is “conservation through education” and we certainly have no argument with that!

In the evening, we were delighted to join Africat and Chris Packham at their “Big Cats-Keeping Them Wild” event at the Royal Geographical Society.

It was great to see the event so well supported and Chris entertained us all with his observations on big cats, foxes, wolves and pangolins. He even shared the trauma he went through in search of the perfect wildlife photograph, whist on a visit to Africat in Namibia, a discussion that brought many a chuckle from the audience!

You can learn more about Africat’s work here.


Picture credit: Martin Fowkes


If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations.


Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:30

Texas Pic  from Brandon and William, aged 7.


Ricky Gervais is, as I write this, working on a fabulous lion painting for us!! Thank you Ricky – you are a gem! His painting will join hundreds of others (you can see all the pictures already received here) when they decorate the plinth of one of the Trafalgar Square lions next Spring.

Why are we doing this? Well, in case you have forgotten, we launched the “Draw Out The Lion In You” initiative on August 10th – World Lion Day to help spread the word that lions need our help - and we have been gathering lion drawings and paintings ever since!
School children from around the world are joining in this campaign and we have already received many wonderful pictures from several schools and more are on their way.

After the event, we will auction Ricky’s painting to the highest bidder to raise much needed funds to help us in our work to save lions.Unless you were lucky enough to catch the glimpse of the part finished painting when he tweeted it last weekend, you will just have to wait to see Ricky’s masterpiece. For those of you who don’t know, he is an accomplished artist.

We still need very many more drawings, sketches and paintings of lions. The lion plinth is enormous and we want to cover every inch with your artwork! Let us make a HUGE impact on the day! Look at this wonderful drawing sent to us from Gareth Patterson, the celebrated wildlife expert. Thank you Gareth! Make sure your lion is there to show the world you care what happens to our remaining lions. 

Gareth Patterson
So, for all those of you who haven’t yet put pen to paper, grab your crayons and let your creative streak shine through! Email us on with your drawings.

NB. if any of you who have already sent in your artwork to us would like your drawing to be featured on one of our LionAid Gift cards, please let us know. We will choose a few designs in the coming days from those who give us their permission.



If you have not already signed up to our mailing list, you can add your name here and keep up to date with our ongoing work and, most importantly, DONATE to support our work to conserve the remaining fragile lion populations. Thank you 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 20:14

Christmas lioness'Tis the season.... well, not quite, but we bet you've been thinking about it.

With that in mind we've come up with the perfect solution for those 'tricky to buy for' family and friends. In fact, it's the perfect solution for anyone who loves wildlife and has a passion for conservation.

This year, why not think about giving a Lion Aid Christmas card? You can send a personalised message which we will include inside and donate a chosen amount on behalf of the recipient towards the conservation of lions in the wild. It's a thoughtful and beautiful gift and will contribute towards a very worthwhile cause.

Follow this link  to our website shop and choose an image you like along with an amount you'd like to donate on behalf of your recipient. Then email me on  with the details of the recipient and a personalised message and we'll do the rest.Christmas lions

If you can't come up with anything we can include ready made ones e.g Seasons greetings to someone who doesn't take poaching lion down or We're not lion when we say we hope you have a very merry Christmas. Anyway, you get the idea!!!! 



Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 18:32