Monday, October 27, 2014

Lions denied "endangered" status, set to be listed as "threatened"

Lions have long held the nickname “Kings of the Jungle.” They are admired for their majestic beauty, and feared for their awesome power. Yet these magnificent beasts are surprisingly fragile, or at least their population is. Like so many other species, both large and small, lions are in peril, due to the actions of humans.

According to reports from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, we have lost about a third of the total lion population in just 20 years. And the remainder of the species is dwindling quickly. What happened to them? The answers are all too familiar. Human development, habitat loss, and most of all unsustainable hunting. 

Current estimates forecast the human population in native lion habitat to increase two-fold by the middle of this century. What will that do to lion populations? According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director, they will likely go extinct by that time – unless we make changes now.

After a two-year study, the United Stated government declined to give lions the status of “endangered,” despite the prominent threats. The action would have made it illegal to import lion parts into the United States as hunting trophies. 

However, the plea of conservation groups did not go entirely unnoticed. They set to be listed as “threatened” under the endangered species act. With this designation, the import of trophies will be allowed, but with tougher restrictions. Under the new guidelines, the import of such trophies would be allowed only if the lion was harvested in a county that uses hunting as part of a conservation plan. It will take approximately 12 months for the proposal to be finalized.

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