The United States government is considering adding African Lions to the endangered species at to protect lions from being imported into the country. The endeavor is supported by a coalition of wildlife groups, according to the National Geographic.
The National Geographic raises an important question, asking why animals are still being killed for “fun.” They write:
The proposed move, supported by a coalition of wildlife groups that includes my own, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, raises an obvious question: Why on Earth are we still allowing this animal to be killed for “fun” when it’s in danger of disappearing from the wild in our lifetimes?
The most recent study, led by a scientist from Duke University, shows that as few as 32,000 lions are left in the wild. Many experts say there could be far fewer. (See an interactive experience on the Serengeti lion.)
While habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict (often in the form of retaliatory killings after lions kill livestock and sometimes even humans) are the primary causes of the lions’ disappearance from Africa’s forests and savannahs, trophy hunting adds to the problem. Approximately 600 lions are killed every year on trophy hunts, including lions in populations that are already declining from other threats. These hunts are unsustainable and put more pressure on the species.
And if you think Americans have no role in this, think again!
“Unfortunately, Americans are primarily to blame. Approximately 60 percent of all lions killed for sport in Africa are shipped to the U.S. as trophies,” writes the National Geographic. “There are several reasons why trophy hunting is so bad for lions, beyond the obvious one that it kills healthy members of an imperiled species. The adult male lion is the most sought-after trophy by wealthy foreign hunters. And when an adult male lion is killed, the destabilization of that lion’s pride can lead to more lion deaths as outside males compete to take over the pride.”
“Once a new male is in the dominant position, he will often kill the cubs sired by the pride’s previous leader, resulting in the loss of an entire lion generation within the pride,” they add. “Trophy hunting is also counter-evolutionary, as it’s based on selectively taking the large, robust, and healthy males from a population for a hunter’s trophy room. These are the same crucial individuals that in a natural system would live long, full lives, protecting their mates and cubs and contributing their genes to future generations.”
The simple fact is that killing lions brings in revenue, but adding lions to the endangered species list can help prohibit such acts. While illegal trade will most likely persist, it’s definitely a start and the right food forward in a great direction.