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World Lion Day larger

 

Let us provide some background. World Lion Day (WLD) was initiated in 2013 to raise public awareness about the plight of lions in Africa. And it is shocking indeed to realize how one of the world’s most iconic species has been allowed to decline due to our lack of attention. There are now fewer wild lions than rhinos, elephants, chimpanzees, orang-utans, lowland gorillas and polar bears. The reasons are numerous and varied – loss of habitat, disease, human/lion conflicts and trophy hunting.


How many lions are left? Estimates vary; we say about 15,000 and others about 35,000. The high estimates are largely based on “surveys” by vested-interest groups wanting to continue trophy hunting. Another “survey” was done using satellite images to look at available habitat and then “extrapolating” lions into the savannas, where field work suggests they do not exist.

About a year ago we decided to take all the available literature on actual lion surveys, combine that with a comprehensive conservation rating of African lion range states, and come up with a minimal estimate of lions. The results were truly shocking. Of 49 continental African countries, lions are extinct in 25 and barely exist in 10. Only 14 countries can claim to have any reasonable numbers of lions left. Hence our estimate of 15,000 lions.


The situation is especially bad in western Africa, where lions are now estimated to occupy only 1% of their ancestral range. One population of any size remains – 350 or so lions in a transfrontier area shared between Benin and Burkina Faso. These western African lions should be classified as highly endangered, not only because of their low numbers but also because they are genetically very different from lions in eastern and southern Africa – in fact, they are more closely related to lions in India.

And yet they are still hunted for trophies.


Lions remain the only big cat species not listed on Appendix I of CITES, despite a very significant trade in trophies. Over the ten years 2003-2012 a total of 3,561 wild lion trophies were exported from Africa, the majority of those adult males. In addition, South Africa exported 6,646 lion trophies, virtually all from captive bred sources.


Lions also continue to suffer from retaliatory killings – true numbers are unknown but are at least equal to trophy hunting numbers. All this while innovative methods are available but lacking funds to reduce predator/livestock conflicts.

What is needed for wild lions?

Better protection by legislation nationally and internationally, a cessation of additional and unnecessary mortality through trophy hunting, a much better understanding of how many lions remain by dedicated and honest surveys, and a realization that time is rapidly running out for one of the world’s most iconic species if we continue to remain complacent.


On the 15th March, we were delighted to see so many people across the world coming together to protest against the practice of captive breeding for canned lion hunting in South Africa. In London alone, we had over 1,000 people with us and the atmosphere was positive and joyous. Together, we all felt, we could make a big impact on raising awareness about this sordid trade.


Deserving as that single issue might be, tackling canned hunting alone, it will not make a significant difference for the overall decline of Africa’s wild lions.


Hence we have become deeply disturbed by a number of unsubstantiated messages criticising World Lion Day, which have been broadcast across twitter and some Facebook pages.


We are particularly concerned by the campaign which has attempted to spuriously associate World Lion Day with hunting, cub petting and lion walking. Organisations showing support for WLD have been maliciously termed “dubious “and “unethical”, and a strong message has gone out to tell people NOT to support WLD. This is irresponsible, in our view, and certainly not in the best interests of lion conservation. All of the groups associated with WLD (over 24 charities at the last count) are incorrectly discredited by this action and is denying them the chance to raise awareness and donations for their work. This is unjustifiable.


WLD must continue. Those who do not agree with the particular aims of any organization listed on the WLD page can express concerns by simply not donating funds to such organizations. WLD is NOT an organization that collects funds to distribute among those that signed up, it is simply an international day of celebration through which individuals can come together to act to save our most iconic of species, the lion.


Therefore, for the sake of overall lion conservation rather than single issue politics, we urge you to support those organizations you consider deserving on World Lion Day.

 

 

 

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 11:52

US recreational hunters

Representing 0.00006% of Americans

 

In their latest attempt to influence Dan Ashe, Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Safari Club International have asked their members to continue to try to make their case against listing lions on the US Endangered Species Act. If that should happen, US recreational hunters will not be able to import their lion trophies any longer.

SCI has asked their members to sign a letter that contains the following:

“As hunter-conservationists, we are opposed to the listing of the African Lion as an endangered species.

A decision to list the lion on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would destroy the conservation benefits lawful hunting provides for the overall management of lions throughout Africa. We hope your decision is based on the science, laws, information and regulations provided to you by the African nations.

At a workshop convened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the foremost African lion experts clearly outlined that the species is NOT on the brink of extinction in the wild. Rather, the lion is actually protected in the majority of its range.”

This is of course the typical nonsense that SCI asks their members to believe – the USFWS did indeed organize a meeting but it hardly involved “the foremost African lion experts”. One of them, Paula White who is based in Zambia is significantly funded by SCI. She has been attempting for some time to find a way off aging lions by using X-rays of teeth (after the lion has been shot) to guide “sustainable hunting”. Of course, the model that she is attempting to use is based on the “six-year” rule invented by Craig Packer (who was also present) – a computer model that proposes that by shooting male lions over six-years old there is no impact on the population. Packer says you don’t even need quotas if hunters stick to those rules. His “model” has been widely criticized – in most well-studied lion populations male lions at six years have only just taken over prides and are experiencing their first significant reproductive opportunities.

As for claiming that the lion is protected in the majority of its range this is more nonsense – why would lions then be suffering such dramatic declines? Perhaps because those associated with lion hunting invent lion numbers to suit their own agendas.

But that aside, why does the SCI believe it has so much power with the USFWS and members of Congress (letters have also been written there)? It is certainly not an organization that represents substantial numbers of US Citizens with only 50,000 members, by far the greatest majority of whom have very little interest in lion trophy hunting.

In fact, looking at the number of lion trophies exported to the US, it comes to 5,448 over the ten years 2003-2012. Doubtless substantial, but 3,617 of those come from South Africa – canned hunts. The SCI always says that lion hunting benefits communities and governments, keeps wild areas (hunting concessions) for lions intact, and prevents poaching in areas where hunters are active. Leaving aside the lack of substance of those claims, shooting captive bred lions by definition only benefits the lion breeders.

Therefore “only” 1,831 wild lions were hunted by Americans 2003-2012, or an average of 183 per year. This translates to 0.6 lion hunters per million US residents. Hardly a political force – the Flat Earth Society, for example, has 1.3 members per million US residents! In other words, while SCI might be very vocal, they have a completely misplaced sense of self-importance.

Picture: Rann Safaris

 

 

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Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:34

FANTASTIC NEWS!!

Saturday 12th April 2014

UK Parliament

 

We have made another very important step forward!!


On the 9th April, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, tabled an early day motion (EDM), no. 1280 on canned hunting. This is in response to Caldwell Smythe’s letter. Well done Caldwell!! Lobbying our MPs and our MEPs works!!!!


“That this House notes the fact that well over 8,000 lions are being bred in captivity to supply the canned hunting trade which entails captive-bred lions being kept in confined areas to be shot by paying hunters using rifles, bow and arrow and even pistols; further notes that at least some of the funding for this barbaric practice is derived from UK volunteer agencies who are often unaware of the destiny of these lions; further notes that on 15 March 2014 people in 62 cities in 21 countries marched on the streets to protest against canned hunting; further notes that on 13 February 2014 a world summit was held in London to halt the illegal trade in wildlife products; further notes that precedents for concrete action include the EU ban on imports of seal skins from Namibia and Canada because it is based on animal cruelty; and calls on the Government to ensure that preservation of the UK's world wildlife heritage is given the high level priority that it so clearly deserves and that appropriate restrictions or banning are implemented wherever necessary.”


We need to ensure that as many UK MPs as possible add their names to this EDM.

It is up to ALL of us to push our MPs to support this.

Parliament is now in recess for two weeks but after the 28th April, they can add their names. Here is the link.


You will note that the EDM has been sponsored by Adrian Sanders, Mary Glindon, Kelvin Hopkins, Mark Durkan and Katy Clark.


The following MPs have already signed this EDM:

  1. Peter Bottomley, Conservative, Worthing West
  2. Katy Clark, Labour, North Ayrshire and Arran
  3. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour, Islington North
  4. Mark Durkan, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Foyle
  5. Andrew George, Liberal Democrats, St Ives
  6. Mary Glindon, Labour, North Tyneside
  7. Kelvin Hopkins, Labour, Luton North
  8. Adrian Sanders, Liberal Democrats, Torbay.

Is your local MP on this list? If it is, then it would be nice if you could write to him/her and offer your congratulations.
If your local MP is NOT on the list, then please write to ask for the support for this EDM. 

If you have already written to your MP and have received a reply, then here is a template for the follow up letter.

If you are writing for the first time OR have not yet received a reply to your letter, here is a template for your letter.

THIS IS IMPORTANT AND A BIG STEP FORWARD IN THE CAMPAIGN. THE MORE SUPPORT THIS EDM GETS FROM MPs, THE GREATER THE CHANCE IT WILL BE DEBATED IN THE UK PARLIAMENT.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE THIS HAPPEN. THE POWER RESTS WITH US.


Please can you email us on info@lionaid.org when you have written to your MP so we can keep track and keep the pressure on….


Thanks!

 

Picture credit: http://bit.ly/1oWzxCy

 

 

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 13:46

 

Ed MilibandIn response to one of our supporters who wrote to her local MP, Ed Miliband replied:


”I was very interested to hear about the march and it was pleasing that it was a well-attended event.”


He further went on to say :


“I have asked Linda McAvan MEP [Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber] for an update on this issue and when I receive a response from her I will of course write to you again”.


You can read the full letter here.


This is pleasing news indeed and we will now contact Linda ourselves to see if we can meet with her to progress the issue.


This comes on the back of a wonderful press release issued today by Jean Lambert (London Green MEP) and Keith Taylor (South East of England Green MEP) who


“have launched a bid to ban 'canned hunting ' - the practice of shooting captive lions and other wildlife for trophies.”


All this is moving in the right direction and we are compiling a comprehensive list of those MPs and MEPs who have acted on letters from their constituents and are taking steps to put further pressure on the European Commission to ban the importation of lion trophies into the EU from South Africa.
We will also today try to contact Jean Lambert and keep you posted of any updates from either her or Linda!

 

Please keep writing those letters to your MPs and MEPs. They ARE working.


You can download the templates for MPs here and for MEPs here.


Thank you for your support. Together we CAN save lions!

 

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 14:06

 

Lion trophy

 

We will be discussing this Periodic Review with CITES authorities soon, but meanwhile wanted to let all of you know the content of our report. Your assistance could be needed to put pressure on the Animals Committee and your CITES representatives to urge that this draft Periodic Review is rejected and sent back to the authors for significant modification.

 

 

1. Background

Under the auspices of the Plants and Animals Committees of CITES, certain species can be included in “Periodic Reviews” to satisfy the Convention that species are appropriately listed, based on up-to-date population information and an assessment of sustainability of current levels of trade.

In the case of the African lion, the CITES Animals Committee approved the Periodic Review for African lions in July 2011, and Kenya and Namibia volunteered to conduct the review. Kenya and Namibia began consulting African lion range states in October 27 2011 with a deadline for input of December 27, 2011. Kenya and Namibia have now, 28 months later, produced the draft of the Periodic Review for the 27th meeting of the Animals Committee in Veracruz, Mexico (April 28-May 3, 2014).

A total of 15 lion range states made submissions (Benin, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe). Of those 15 states, lions are known to be extinct in Cote D’Ivoire and Gabon, virtually extinct in Malawi, Nigeria and Rwanda, and of unknown population size in South Sudan. Yet the title of the report is “CITES Periodic Review of the Status of African Lion Range Across Its Range”?

2. Overview and Criticism

As a general statement, the report is internally inconsistent and extremely outdated in sections. Given that the report has only recently been submitted, much more emerging information could have been included that could have made the report both stronger and much more relevant to the current status of lions. Data recently emerging is especially relevant to the critical status of western African lions but also concerns the trade of captive-bred lions in South Africa. In some cases newer information is included, but such data is highly selective.

2.1 Criticism of data used

  • The report uses data from the UNEP-WCMC CITES trade database, but the only data used was from 1999-2008 (the Appendices, in contrast, list information from 2000-2009 but this data was not used in drawing conclusions). Inferences about the appropriateness of lion listings are therefore based on data almost six years old. This is NOT acceptable.
  •  The report mentions, based on IUCN Red List data, that the African lion occurs in “30 countries excluding a few countries with uncertain status”. That information was published in the Red List in 2008 but was actually gathered in 2006 and is therefore about eight years old. This is NOT acceptable. In actual fact, the true situation concerning lion distributions is as follows: Of the 49 continental African countries the lion is extinct in 25 countries, existing as small, scattered and highly vulnerable populations in eight countries, perhaps existing as unknown populations in two countries, and known to be present in 14 countries. This actual distribution of lions is very different than that presented in the report, and much more accurately reflects the current status of lions in Africa. 
  • The population size is listed as 23,000 to 39,000 lions in Africa based on questionnaires sent out over 12 years ago, and between 32,000 and 35,000 based on a remote sensing/satellite survey of savanna habitats and extrapolation of lion populations into “suitable” areas (Riggio et al., 2013). The authors of that report themselves mention that the detection of savanna habitats does not imply there are lions there, and mention that many such habitats are extensively used for livestock grazing (Riggio et al., op cit). The IUCN in 2006 estimated a maximum population of 36,000 lions. However, The IUCN estimate was based largely on “information” from delegates at two meetings – Yaounde, Cameroon for western and central African delegates and Johannesburg, South Africa for eastern and southern African delegates. 
  • The Yaounde delegates estimated a maximum of 1,920 lions in western Africa. More recent estimates based on more reliable surveys indicate the total population is about 400 (Henschel et al., 2010, 2014). The Yaounde delegates, for example, estimated the population of Niokolo-Guinee at 500 – 1000 lions, but recent surveys suggest that <20 lions remain. The Yaounde delegates also estimated a total of 2,050 lions in central Africa. More recent estimates indicate that perhaps 630 lions remain. The Yaounde delegates estimated the Chad-RCA population to number over 1,000 animals, whereas more recent estimates from this politically highly unstable area involved in a significant amount of civil strife suggest that optimistically 400 lions remain. In sum, the IUCN delegates estimated a total of 3,970 lions in western and central Africa – more recent and reliable estimates put the combined total at perhaps 1,030 lions. Surveys undertaken in 2010 and 2014 concluded that lions were extinct in 13 of 20 Lion Conservation Units identified by the Yaounde delegates, and probably had been for some time (Henschel et al, op cit). The report mentions that the IUCN lists western African lions as regionally endangered, but the official Red List page on lions shows no such increased concern. The report neglects to mention that in western Africa, lions now only occupy 1% of their historic range
  • The Johannesburg delegates estimated between 27,000 and 32,000 lions remaining in eastern and southern Africa. This estimate included highly speculative lion populations in Somalian war zones, significant populations in South Sudan currently subjected to enormous civil strife, significant populations in Angola that have never been adequately assessed, and a population of no less that 5,500 lions in the Selous region in Tanzania, the location of unprecedented elephant population declines due to very heavy poaching, reducing the elephant population by over 80% since 2007. 
  • A more sober assessment of remaining lion populations in eastern and southern Africa was undertaken by LionAid (December 2012) incorporating factors like % of human population involved in agriculture, % of population living below the poverty estimate of $1.25/day, the Failed States Index, the Human Development Index, the Corruption Perception Index, and presence of an effective government department charged with wildlife protection. Given that information, more current information from remaining lion populations in range states like Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania, an assessment of the impact of civil strife, as well as an assessment of trophy hunting export declines as an indirect method of determining numbers of adult male lions remaining in protected areas designated as hunting concessions, our considered assessment is that not more than 14,500 lions remain in the region.


2.2 Internal inconsistencies.

  • Given the long delays before the Periodic Review of African lions reached any semblance of readiness to be presented in draft form to the 27th Meeting of the Animals Committee, it is surprising that the authors could not present a more cohesive report. 
  • For example, throughout the report mention is made that lion hunting trophies constitute the largest category of commercial trade. Mention is also made that range states like Kenya and Botswana have banned trophy hunting of lions due to concerns over the effects and lack of sustainability of the practice. No mention is made of several studies conducted in Benin, Cameroon, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe that indicate strong negative consequences of trophy hunting on lion population size and structure (Sogbohoussou et al., 2014, Croes et al., 2011; Packer et al., 2011; Yamazaki 1996; Loveridge et al., 2007). No mention is made that Zambia placed a recent moratorium on trophy hunting of lions (and leopards) at the start of 2013 due to similar concerns and the total confusion about the number of lions in the country, that Uganda banned the practice many years ago, that Cameroon has for the last four years declined to issue export permits for lion trophies, and that Ethiopia has had sufficient concern about trophy hunting to only issue a handful of permits over the ten years 2003-2012.
  • Yet on p8 of the report, it is stated that “It is very important to note that in some countries in southern and Eastern Africa, restrictions on lion hunting would affect the overall profitability of trophy hunting and thus reduce the competitiveness of wildlife-based land uses relative to alternatives such as livestock production. In addition to the potential loss of habitat, restrictions on lion hunting could potentially reduce the tolerance of communities in some areas. Restrictions on lion hunting may also reduce the funds available for management activities such as anti-poaching and community outreach. Such restrictions would also weaken the justification for setting aside the extensive areas gazetted as hunting areas acting as buffer zones of National Parks and ecological corridors between National parks, thus exposing these areas to the risk of conversion to non-wildlife-based land uses such as agriculture and livestock rangeland.” This is unmitigated pro-trophy hunting propaganda that has no place in any Periodic Review. It is an opinion statement without any scientific reference or credence. 
  • In direct contrast to that statement on p8, the report on p14 states: “The high demand for lion trophies has caused trophy offtakes to be too high in most countries. This has been explicitly recognized in Botswana (which banned lion sport hunting from 2001 - 2005 and again in 2007 - 2009), Zambia (banning lion hunting in 2000 - 2001 and halving their quotas in 2009), Zimbabwe (banning lion hunting in the western part of the country 2005 - 2008) and Mozambique (reducing quotas in Niassa Reserve in 2009). Recently Tanzania has taken measures to limit lion offtakes to males that are at least 6 years of age. However, most of these responses came after dramatic declines in lion harvests that resulted from over-hunting. Given the overall rarity of the species and its extreme sensitivity to habitat loss and problem animal conflict, hunting offtakes should be monitored far more closely so as to minimize the impact of international trade.” 
  • The statement on p8 also ignores that Zambia placed an indefinite moratorium on lion trophy hunting in January 2013 due to concerns about a rapidly declining lion population, that Uganda has a complete ban on lion hunting, and that both Kenya and Botswana have banned trophy hunting of all species. 
  • On page 17, the report states: “The leading major threats across lion range are recognized by each lion range state to be habitat loss and retaliatory killing, and not international trade”. That statement contradicts what was said on page 14 (…hunting should be monitored much more closely … to minimize the impact of international trade) and what is said consistently throughout the report – that hunting trophies form the largest part of commercial trade. In addition, that statement, mentioning “…recognized by each lion range state…” is misleading as the report is materially based on replies of 15 lion “range” states – and as mentioned above, of those 15, lions are known to be extinct in Cote D’Ivoire and Gabon, virtually extinct in Malawi, Nigeria and Rwanda, and of unknown population size in South Sudan. It is noteworthy that range states with either significant and/or regionally important lion populations like Uganda, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Chad and Botswana did not reply to requests for information. Therefore the report can hardly claim to represent “…each lion range state…”

2.3 Factual errors and errors of omission

  • The report mentions several times that there have been significant declines in lion populations remaining in western Africa and central Africa. The report does not mention that these populations are highly significantly genetically different from those in southern and eastern Africa, and more closely resemble the remaining population of lions in India. As a consequence, there have been recent calls (based on genetics and morphology) to revise the taxonomy of lions and/or at least recognize western and central African lion populations as distinct and highly threatened “Evolutionarily Significant Units” requiring appropriate additional conservation consideration (Dubach et al, 2005; Barnett et al., 2006a, 2006b; Bertola et al, 2011, Dubach et al, 2013, Barnett et al, 2014). Omission of any mention of such highly important biological information is NOT acceptable. 
  • While recognizing the alarming declines of western African lions that now only occupy 1% of their historic range, the report makes no recommendations for any additional protection from international trade. While also recognizing the almost complete lack of information about central African lion populations in Chad, Central African Republic and Sudan, and recognizing that populations in Nigeria and Cameroon are now small, scattered and highly vulnerable, the report makes no similar suggestions for additional protection of central African populations from international trade. This is NOT acceptable. 
  • The report in some sections acknowledges that there are major gaps in scientific assessments of remaining lion populations but does not acknowledge the subsequent weakness of any conclusions reached. For example, there is no adequate information of lion populations in Angola, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad. In addition, the report fails to acknowledge that population estimates in by far the majority of African lion range states are based on little more than “guesstimates” and reports issued by vested interest organizations and reports using various extrapolations from remote sensing data. This type of uncertainty should be clearly stated in the conclusions of the Periodic Review instead of glossed over.
  • The report presents a very garbled representation of the true situation of lions in South Africa. The report neglects to mention that since a Supreme Court of Appeals ruling in 2010 lions are no longer included as Threatened or Protected Species in South Africa. The report neglects to mention that there are now over 160 captive lion breeding farms in South Africa housing an estimated 8,000 captive animals. The report neglects to mention that over 99% of South African hunting trophies and other products are derived from captive bred lions, and that there is rampant erroneous listing of such trophies as “wild” by South African CITES authorities. The report does mention that while the lion bone trade from South Africa has increased, it does not mention that such trade in 2010 and 2011 grew exponentially to include, for example, 2743 lion bones and 547 skeletons mainly sent to Laos and Viet Nam. The report does mention that this trade in lion bones has led to increased demand in China, Laos and Viet Nam, and that poaching incidents of wild lions in other African lion range states are increasing. The report does not express any concern that such CITES authorized trade from South Africa involves known Illegal Wildlife Trade Kingpins like Vixay Keosavang in Laos (a reward of $1 million was recently offered by the US State Department for his arrest). The report neglects to mention that there is increasing evidence that captive lion breeding is expanding to Namibia and Zimbabwe, and that only recently has Botswana banned export of captive bred lions to South Africa destined for the canned hunting trade. The report does mention, in passing, that lion cubs are captured from the wild to be fed into the captive breeding industry. The report neglects to mention that South Africa exports large numbers of live lions from captive breeding facilities to destinations like the United Arab Emirates (pet trade), Thailand, Myanmar, Viet Nam and China without any assurance that such lions are destined for bona-fide zoos registered by WAZA. Ignorance of the true situation in South Africa is NOT acceptable. 
  • The report mentions that “an average of 38 lions were destroyed per year [in Namibia] for problem animal control … this figure includes most of the lion trophy hunted during the same period, as problem animals in Namibia are mostly trophy hunted to offset the cost of the communities living with lions”. This is a highly surprising statement as it implies that adult trophy lions are highly represented (28 in 2010) among problem animals. It is also factually incorrect as international hunting clients are booked a significant time ahead of their arrival – before the existence of any problem animal could be known. Hunting reports from Namibia do not mention such reliance on problem animals as trophies.

 

3. Conclusions

  1. Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP16) on Criteria for amendment of Appendices I and II, establishes criteria to ensure that decisions to amend the Convention’s Appendices are founded on sound and relevant scientific information. We submit that this Periodic Review is not based on sound and relevant information, that it presents dated, inconsistent and factually incorrect information, and that it fails to make conclusions relevant to the actual status of African lion populations. 
  2. We urge the Animals Committee to reject this document submitted by Namibia and Kenya as being a substantive and correct Periodic Review of the status of the African lion based on the following objections:
    1. The information presented in the review is no longer applicable to the current status of lions. This is clearly indicated by a lack of true representation of lion numbers in western, central, eastern and southern Africa; a lack of knowledge of the number of range states where lions still occur; a belief in data that is neither sound nor relevant to an assessment of remaining lion populations.
    2. The information presented in the review is not factual. This is indicated by a complete misrepresentation of current lion commercial trade from South Africa (the MAJOR African nation involved in international trade of lion products) and by an over-reliance on anecdotal and grey literature while ignoring scientific literature.
    3. The information presented in the report omits significantly important population genetic information about the lion populations. Western and central African lions are so different from eastern and southern African lions they more resemble lions in India. While CITES might have difficulties with the recognition of subspecies, there are precedents for requiring different levels of protection from continued international trade based on geographic origin of specimens. Since remaining lion populations are significantly isolated from each other, a geographic categorization would suffice to correctly identify genetically unique entities. 
    4. The information presented in the review is internally conflicting, reflecting a lack of adequate preparation and involvement by the authors. It additionally does not reflect the view of the many African range states with important lion populations that did not contribute, and therefore is not acceptable as an adequate Periodic Review. The inclusion in the review of range states where lions are already extinct, unknown, or so small that they are not involved in international trade is highly questionable. 
    5. The conclusions do not reflect the data presented in the report, and are therefore invalid.

 

Summary

The Periodic Review of lions submitted to the 27th Meeting of the Animals Committee is flawed in many aspects. It uses dated information, does not consider crucial biological information about the species, and most surprisingly states that trade has no negative impact on African lion populations.

Lions have greatly declined in geographic range and occurrence, and it is clear that trade, including trophy hunting, has had a significant contributory impact.

In this regard, the US Fish and Wildlife Service placed a temporary ban on all imports of elephant ivory hunting trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Management Authority reasoned that “Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.” Poaching was considered to have led to significant decreases in elephant populations, much the same as habitat loss, human/wildlife conflict and excessive trophy hunting has led to significant decreases in lion populations. Therefore, the CITES Animals Committee should similarly consider that additional killing of lions, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of a species in significant decline across its range, especially in western and central Africa.

Literature Cited

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Barnett R, Yamaguchi N, Barnes I, Cooper A: The origin, current diversity and future conservation of the modern lion (Panthera leo). Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 2006 273, 2159-2168.

Barnett R, Yamaguchi N, Shapiro B, Ho S, Barnes I, Sabin R, Werdelin L, Cuisin J, Larson G: Revealing the maternal demographic history of Panthera leo using ancient DNA and a spatially explicit genealogical analysis: BMC Evol. Biol. 2014 14:70.

Bertola L, van Hooft WF, Vrieling K, Uit de Weerd DR, York DS, Bauer H, Prins HHT, Funston P, de Haes HA U, Leirs H, van Haeringen WA, Sogbohossou Tuemnta EPN, de Iongh HH: Genetic diversity, evolutionary history and implications for conservation of the lion (Panthera leo) in West and Central Africa: J. Biogeography 2011, 38:1356-1367.

Croes BM, Funston PJ, Rasmussen G, Buji R, Salehe A, Tumentaa PN, de Iongh HH: The impact of trophy hunting on lions (Panthera leo) and other large carnivores in the Bénoué Complex, northern Cameroon. Cons. Biol. 2011 144: 3064-3072.

Dubach J, Patterson BD, Briggs MB, Venske K, Flamand J, Stander P, Scheepers L, Kays RW: Molecular genetic variation across the southern and eastern ranges of the African lion, Panthera leo. Conserv. Genet. 2005, 6: 15-24.

Dubach JM, Briggs MB, White PA, Ament BA, Patterson BD: Genetic perspectives on “Lion Conservation Units” in Eastern and Southern Africa. Conserv. Genet. 2013 14: 741-755.

Henschel P, Azani D, Burton C, Malanda G, Saidu Y, Sam M, Hunter L: Lion status updates from five range countries in West and Central Africa: Cat News 2010 52: 34-39.

Henschel P, Coad L, Burton C, Chataigner B, Dunn A, et al: The Lion in West Africa Is Critically Endangered. PLoS ONE 2014 9(1): e83500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083500.

Loveridge AJ, Searle AW, Murindagomo F, Macdonald DW: The impact of sport hunting on the population dynamics of an African lion population in a protected area. Biol. Conserv. 2007 134: 548-558

Packer C, Brink H, Kissui BM, Maliti H, Kushnir H et al: Effects of trophy huntion on lion and leopard populations in Tanzania. Conserv. Biol. 2011 25: 142-153.

Riggio J, Jacobson A, Dollar L, Bauer H, Becker M, Dickman A, Funston P, Groom R, Henschel P, de Iongh H, Lichtenfeld L, Pimm S: The size of savannah Africa: a lion’s (Panthera leo) view: Biodiv. Cons. 2013 22: 17-35.

Sogbohossou EA, Bauer H, Loveridge A, Funston PJ, De Snoo GR, Sinsin B, de Iongh HH: Social structure of lions (Panthera leo) is affected by management in the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, Benin: PLoS ONE 2014 9(1) e84674.

Yamazaki K: Social variation of lions in a male-depopulated area in Zambia: J. Wildl. Managemnt. 1996 60 490-495.

 

 

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 20:25

USFWS Elephants

Additional killing does not conserve the species

 

On April 4th, the US Fish and Wildlife Service placed a temporary ban on all imports of elephant ivory hunting trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The Management Authority reasoned that “Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.”

Let’s look at that announcement in depth.

a) Over the ten years 2003-2012 US hunters imported an average of 52 elephant trophies per year from Tanzania (based on adding together the “tusk”/2 and “trophy” categories in the CITES database). From Zimbabwe, US hunters imported an average of about 160 elephants per year (there is some uncertainty about this number as Zimbabwe lists exports as “tusks”, “trophies” and to complicate matters also exports trophy tusks by the kilo).

b) In both countries, US hunters outnumber hunters from any other nation, and the ban is likely to significantly affect the income of the trophy hunting operators.

c) The reason given for the temporary import ban is that “Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.” Now there’s an interesting admission. Does that imply that the USFWS is not a great believer in the “killing for conservation” message that the hunters are putting out there? Because if they did, they would allow the trophy hunters to continue because, after all, isn’t their presence in hunting areas supposed to deter poachers? And benefit communities? Just think of all that elephant meat the communities will now be deprived of?

d) But then the USFWS statement turns full circle, it seems, and says that they will still allow imports of ivory hunting trophies from Namibia and South Africa because sport hunting “can benefit the conservation of listed species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

e) Does that imply, by extension of that same argument, that the USFWS will place an import ban on ALL trophy hunted species where “additional killing” is not contributing towards the recovery of the species? Does that mean that lions, now in great decline across Africa because of a diversity of factors like habitat loss, human/wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade etc will also not benefit from “additional killing” by trophy hunters?

f) Given this statement by the USFWS, will the EU ignore it or join forces?


So many questions! Doubtless the USFWS will come under sustained attack from trophy hunters to more fully explain a decision that seems to have been taken very quickly. Compare that to the ENDLESS process to have African lions listed on the US Endangered Species Act. It now seems we might get an announcement on April 11 – but then, elephants have always taken precedence over lions.

The text of the decision is as follows:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced a suspension on imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies taken in Tanzania and Zimbabwe during calendar year 2014. Questionable management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement and weak governance have resulted in uncontrolled poaching and catastrophic population declines of African elephants in Tanzania. In Zimbabwe, available data, though limited, indicate a significant decline in the elephant population. Anecdotal evidence, such as the widely publicized poisoning last year of 300 elephants in Hwange National Park, suggests that Zimbabwe’s elephants are also under siege.

Given the current situation on the ground in both Tanzania and Zimbabwe, the Service is unable to make positive findings required under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Endangered Species Act to allow import of elephant trophies from these countries. Additional killing of elephants in these countries, even if legal, is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species.

The decision to suspend the import of sport-hunted trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe applies to elephants taken in 2014. The Service will re-evaluate this suspension for calendar year 2015 or upon receipt of new information that demonstrates an improved situation for elephants in these countries.

Legal, well-regulated sport hunting, as part of a sound management program, can benefit the conservation of listed species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation. At this time, the Service does not have conservation concerns with African elephant sport hunting in Namibia, South Africa, or Botswana; though it should be noted that Botswana is not currently open to sport hunting.

 

Photo credit - http://www.hunting-safaris-africa.com/trophy-hunting-safaris.html

 

 

 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 20:31

Zoohood logo

 

We are delighted to say that Zoohood, an online shop based in Brighton who sell “amazing animal-inspired products, designed for adults and kids”, have offered LionAid a discount off all sales from their range, whether it be a lion themed product or not!

Take a look at the things they sell – they are very funky!


We will make the range of lion products also available in our LionAid webshop, but in the meantime,

Take a look at what’s on offer here

How about a lion onesie?

Zoohood lion

Remember, every purchase from Zoohood will carry a donation to LionAid, provided you access their shop through this link (so they can identify that you wish the discount to go to LionAid).

Pretty inspiring!!

So go on – treat yourself!!

And remember that Mothers Day is fast approaching, as is Easter.

Great gifts for animal lovers everywhere!! 

So start shopping .....!

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 16:07

IFP logo

 


DELIVERED BY THE HON. NAREND SINGH MP OF THE IFP

Durban: 15 March 2014

Today, in 62 cities around the world, people of all colour and creed are marching in protest. We are marching on behalf of those who have no voice. Those who are abused; caged; hunted and killed. We are marching on behalf of the hundreds of lions facing a brutal life and undignified death to satisfy the monster of Canned Lion Hunting.

The IFP is marching because we share the concern of men and women who fear for our lions’ future. We thank God for people who have sleepless nights worrying about the fate and the treatment of our lions, and who act on their behalf.

Many believe that the level of enlightenment in any society can be measured by how its people treat animals. It is a severe indictment on South Africa that our Government has failed to protect the king of the beasts. They have failed to stand up for his right to life. In so doing, they have failed us all.

They have ignored the voice of the voiceless for too long. I wonder how they will ignore the voice of hundreds of us from the streets of Durban, the streets of Cape Town, the streets of Port Elizabeth, and Pietermaritzburg? We join the voices echoing from cities across the world. We will not be silenced.

We cannot be silenced, for we speak on behalf of the lion. We must roar, where he cannot. We are his voice.

Knowing this to be true, the IFP took up the fight and tabled a Motion in Parliament supporting today’s Global March, and calling on Government to ban the cowardly practice of canned lion hunting. We declared in Parliament that trophy hunting is, as the Kenyan Government so aptly put it, “a barbaric relic of colonialism”.

It must go. It is wrong.

I am pleased to say that we won a decisive victory for our lions. On Thursday this week, Parliament adopted the IFP’s motion supporting the Global March Against Canned Lion Hunting.

Parliament has urged Government to immediately amend South African law to give the highest and most stringent measure of protection to our wildlife, particularly the lion, the elephant and the rhino.

This is a great victory.

We call on Government to recognise its duty: the duty to protect our wildlife and preserve the heritage of our children. We call on Government to consider the significant effect that its inertia is having on tourism to South Africa. The revenue our country draws from trophy hunters is nothing compared to the revenue we lose from people who reject South Africa, because of the way we treat our lions.

And it’s nothing compared to what we lose in our souls. For, surely, to condemn our lions to such a devastating fate, South Africa must surrender part of her soul.

Our lions are our nation’s treasure, our heritage. They have been entrusted to us and we have the privilege of sharing the soil they walked long before we arrived.

The leader of the IFP has given us a great example. Over many years, Prince Buthelezi has won international acclaim for his work in conservation. He respects our environment and has played a leading role in protecting South Africa’s population of rhino and elephant. Today, he fights for our lions.

On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party, and its President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, I petition Government to do the right thing. Ban canned lion hunting. Stop the carnage. Honour our lions.

 

IFP banner

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:21

Sinya lion

The status of lions in Tanzania is very unclear. This is because vested interests have long been influential to manipulate lion numbers.

The status of lions in Tanzania is very important as Tanzania could well support three of the last remaining five “large” lion populations in Africa. Tanzania thus has a duty to be very careful and well-informed about any consumptive use of lions through trophy hunting.

The report always relied on by Tanzanian authorities for lion numbers is this one.

Bernard Kissui was a co-author. Sponsors of the study were hunting organizations in Tanzania and abroad. The study has not been published in a scientific journal as it would not stand scientific scrutiny. It was published as an internal document by IGF in France – the International Game Foundation – highly pro-trophy hunting.

Past wildlife director Songorwa mentioned this report in his letter to the New York Times to attempt to persuade the US Fish and Wildlife service NOT to list lions on their Endangered Species Act.

There is no way that there are 16,000 lions remaining in Tanzania. There are not even 16,000 lions remaining in all of Africa. LionAid reported their estimate here.

It is sad that lion numbers should be manipulated by hunting organizations in Tanzania to continue to permit the trophy hunting of a species in great decline. It is sad that a scientist at TAWIRI – Chissui – should lend his name to a report that says that lions occur across 92% of Tanzania.

TATO surely knows how few lions continue to exist in Tanzania, and how hard the tour operators must work to show wild lions to their clients.

While there has been tremendous focus on elephant poaching in Tanzania, the tour operators must insist on the following:

  1. A total moratorium on lion trophy hunting until there is an independent assessment (not by hunting organizations, or sponsored by them) of remaining lion populations, especially within the hunting concessions.
  2. An acknowledgement that without lions, tourism numbers will further collapse in Tanzania – lions are the primary species on every foreign tourist’s list to see.
  3. A recognition that lion poaching and cub smuggling is a growth industry in Tanzania. LionAid knows that hunting operators are being offered $1,000 for a lion skeleton to be exported to Asia for the Traditional Medicine Trade. LionAid knows that lions killed in “retaliation” for livestock depredation have their paws and teeth and skin removed for commercial purposes. Poached lion partsLionAid knows that there is a big tourism market for lion claws and teeth in informal markets in Tanzania. LionAid knows that there are no controls on the minimum age limits for lions being shot as trophies in Tanzania. TATO could be a wonderful voice of reason to stop all these activities and promote lion conservation in Tanzania.

 

 

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 16:55

Cannes Lion logoBetween the 15th and 21st June this year, the International Festival of Creativity gets underway in Cannes.

It is billed as “the only truly global meeting place for professionals working in creative communications, from creatives and marketers to technologists and media specialists. Cannes Lions is where 12,000 people from 94 countries come together to be inspired by seven unmissable days of learning, networking and celebration.”

                                                                                                                                                    Cannes Lion trophy
The symbol for this International Festival of Creativity, Cannes Lions, is THE LION and the “Grand Prix”,their highest honour, is an elegant lion trophy – the ONLY kind of lion trophy that should ever grace anyone’s home or office!

save the lionA past winner of this trophy, when realising the catastrophic decline in lions, approached us to say that “We felt that those who gained honor through lions Must work to save lions.”


And thus a new campaign was launched. Past winners of this coveted award are being approached by this creative agency and asked to send in photographs of their own heads on the Cannes Lion plinth, instead of the lion’s head in recognition of the fact that soon lions could be extinct. 

 

 

 

Package

 

empty plinth

This is the package they receive.

Here are two examples they have received so far on their specially created Facebook page!

Grand Prix winner 1Grand Prix winner 2

They plan to create a poster of all the photographs they have received “to let them be the ambassadors for the creators to spread the news directly to people about lions being close to extinction”. 


Also have a look at the stunning new posters which they have also designed:

Black map of AfricaEmpty landscapeWhere's my mom?

 

This is a fabulous initiative and we hope very many of you will support this awareness campaign.


Awareness and support from the Creative Industry would be wonderful. Please help us to help them to spread the word.


You can like their Facebook page here.

Add a comment | Posted by Chris Macsween at 15:21