In a groundbreaking move for wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing African lions as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act on Monday morning. The move comes after several conservation organizations created a petition calling for the listing.
The announcement includes one other proposed measure: a rule requiring permits for the import of sport-hunted lions. In addition, these permits would only be issued for countries that employ scientifically-sound management plans for lions.
"Lion numbers have declined by more than half in the last three decades. To allow trophy hunting to continue unabated is kicking an animal while it's already down," said Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). "We thank the U.S. government for acknowledging that this iconic species is in grave trouble and that unsustainable trophy hunting is a part of this problem."
There are fewer than 32,000 African lions remaining today, due to pressures from trophy hunting, bone trade, meat and organ consumption, disease and agricultural expansion, according to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA.