(Mirror Daily, United States) – The ESA looking to protect two more groups of lions might help conservation efforts in keeping the population of the large felines from decline. Matters such as hunting the majestic animals for sport have become a bit of an issue. The Obama administration though has announced their intent on placing two more types of lions on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As most would likely know by now, the death of Cecil the lion has sparked uproar around the world. The feline was hunted with a bow and arrow by an U.S. dentist, even though it was a major attraction in Hwange National Park, and the subject of an Oxford study. Walter Palmer, the Minnesota man who hunted Cecil claimed that he would have not shot it had he known of the lion’s status.
However, that highlighted an important issue that led to further protection from hunters. New rules have been in the making for a while, and there’s finally a decision made. From now on, American big game hunters will not be allowed to be import lions back into the U.S. At the very least, not without a permit that states its purpose for a science-based conservation strategy.
According to director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Dan Ashe, this might not aid protection against the host country’s laws, but it will prevent American hunters from participating. They can become an integral part of the conservation strategy. The numbers have been depleted enough.
The Humane Society stated that over 5,600 lions have brought over to the U.S. in the past 10 years by American trophy hunters. They served no other purpose but selling them for pelts or their heads displayed on walls. The group was among the first to petition the FWS for immediate protection. It arrived a little later, but it’s now in place.
Two new subspecies have been added to the ESA. The first is mostly found in the western and central countries of the African continent, with numbers as low as only 1,400 of them left. They are genetically closer to the Asiatic lion, and are now listed as ‘endangered’ on the threat of extinction. Import of this particular group will be strictly prohibited.
The second subspecies mostly roams around the southern and eastern Africa, with numbers still between 17,000 to 19,000 left. While it seems like a tremendous amount in comparison to others, this particular type of lion has seen a dramatic decline. In the 1900s, their population rounded up at about 500,000, dropped to 200,000 in the 1950s, and then plummeted to just about the 19,000 left today in the wild. They are now listed as ‘threatened’.
African lions have seen a decrease in their population due to habitat loss, unavailability of prey, and conflicts with humans over their livestock. While trophy hunting has not been a major contributor, the FWS means to prevent that from happening before it becomes an even more serious issue. It’s not a threat to their survival yet, but it could be in the future.
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