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On November 27, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published a 90 day finding, announcing that an endangered species listing for the African Lion “may be warranted.” Although the announcement did not take SCI and SCI Foundation by surprise, the FWS’s finding was extremely disappointing. Listing the African Lions as endangered will almost undoubtedly prevent the importation of lion trophies into the United States which will likely inhibit U.S. citizens from hunting lions altogether. An import ban will undermine funding for on-the-ground conservation programs and will not reduce the number of lions taken in range nations. And, without the U.S. market, revenues generated from lion hunting that are allocated to wildlife conservation are likely to plummet.
SCI and SCI Foundation have been working on this issue extensively with range nations in Africa, both to prevent endangered listing under the ESA and to prevent similar restrictions that could be imposed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). SCI and SCI Foundation will help range countries to provide the necessary information to the FWS to demonstrate not only that the facts and science do not justify an endangered listing, but also that listing would be harmful to the conservation of the species. SCI and SCI Foundation will be submitting strong comments to the FWS opposing the proposed listing. Rest assured that SCI and SCI Foundation will be doing everything possible to prevent the African Lion from being placed on the endangered species list.
The FWS’s 90 day finding is only the initial step in the listing process. It does not mean that African Lions are currently on the endangered species list, or that the listing status of the African Lion is predetermined. It does mean, however, that now, more than ever, SCI and SCI Foundation must aggressively fight to prevent the listing of the species. Stay tuned for future alerts on how you can help SCI and SCI Foundation carry out this important mission.