The Obama administration designated the African lion as endangered in an attempt to reduce hunters’ desire to import trophies into the United States.
It seems Cecil the Lion didn’t die in vain.
In the five months since Minnesota dentist Walter J. Parmer ventured to Zimbabwe, Africa, and killed a lion named Cecil, progressive action has been taken to prevent more wild cats from being poached.
France, for example, has banned the import of lion trophies, and Britain has said it will do the same in 2017. In addition, more than 40 airlines have also said they will no longer transport hunting trophies.
And now, the Obama administration is designating the African lion as endangered to help stave off hunters seeking to bring lion trophies into the United States.
Lions in central and West Africa will be listed as endangered, and lions in southern and East Africa will be classified as threatened. A new, special rule will encourage countries to regulate sport hunting of lions in ways that promote conservation.
Said Dan Ashe, the director of the agency:
“Today, the Fish and Wildlife Service is doing everything it can with everything it has to set a new course for the conservation of the African lion. It is the responsibility of the hunting industry, and the American hunter in particular, to do better. If we are going to recover lion populations and ensure that lions continue to the savannahs of Africa and the forests of India, then it’s going to be important to do better.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service says the new designations will result in stricter criteria for the import of live lions and lion parts, such as heads, paws, or skins.
Trophies aren’t being outright banned, but they are being “generally prohibited” – with the exception of a few limited circumstances.
According to some estimates, only about 20,000 lions remain in Africa. This is largely a result of poorly regulated trophy hunting, loss of prey and habitat, and farmers and herders killing the wild cats in retaliation. Wildlife biologists and conservation groups have warned about this for years, but it seems Cecil’s death sparked enough outrage for action to finally be taken.
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