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This morning, nine African governments met in a private delegation to discuss the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) recent decision to list the lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
The FWS has determined that the lion will be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future, which is considered to be 2050, primarily because of trends of declining habitat, loss of prey and increased human-lion conflicts. Since Africa’s human population is expected to double and over 60% of African people live in rural areas, human lion conflict and habitat loss is likely to increase. Though the listing was made to provide the African lion more protection, the governments are concerned that the proposed rule associated with the listing will only perpetuate the impact of these threats to lions, not solve them.
This comes at a time when many of the FWS’s decisions concerning African wildlife have been less than well received by affected African countries. This forum will allow the FWS an opportunity to meet with the governments and address their concerns. FWS representatives express that they are by no means trying to eliminate hunting and believe it is a necessary and effective management tool.
In a discussion with various African government representatives, FWS Associate Director Robert Dreher furthered that sentiment by stating that “hunting is not part of the problem, but it is part of the solution.”
Still, the listing will make hunting lions and the importation of lions into the U.S. substantially more difficult. The listing requires countries to prove that the taking of a lion will enhance the survival of the species. However, it is not clear what specific information will be analyzed and whether the information will be deemed sufficient. SCI Foundation has reached out to the FWS to better understand what specific information is needed for enhancement findings. The African governments are frustrated by the continual increase in information being requested by numerous importing countries to justify and allow trade.
Often, international government policy overlooks how essential wildlife trade is to Africa. The poor communication of policy changes complicates African decision making and impairs government relationships and trust.
To strengthen these relationships, each African government delegation has invited the FWS to visit their countries and see their lion conservation programs first hand. This will provide the FWS better insight into each country’s on the ground wildlife management programs and will be an ideal opportunity that allows each government to demonstrate their progress.
Thanks to the AWCF, important issues are being addressed and discussions that are often avoided are occurring. The AWCF encourages capacity building among governments, NGO’s and professional hunting associations to find the best solutions for Africa’s wildlife.
SCI Foundation President Joe Hosmer phrased it perfectly in his opening speech.
“No one country can solve regional conservation problems alone, it requires interaction and cooperation at many levels, and I look forward to seeing what this meeting can do to perpetuate that goal.”
Twice a week, SCI Foundation informs readers about conservation initiatives happening worldwide and updates them on SCI Foundation’s news, projects and events. Tuesdays are dedicated to an Issue of the Week and Thursday’s Weekly Updates will provide an inside look into research and our other science-based conservation efforts. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more SCI Foundation news.