HUNTERS: Fighting for Lions Campaign, One Year Later

Published on January 28, 2014

Wildlife Conservation: With ONE MILLION hunter-raised dollars in the bank, one strategic plan to ensure the conservation of the African lion, and just one year; Safari Club International Foundation awaits the first indications of success with its Fighting for Lions Campaign.

Anticipated in January 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will announce what protection status, if any, should be assigned to the African lion under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Anti-hunting organizations have petitioned the FWS to list African lions as endangered, and through a set procedure, the government must consider the ESA petition within a limited time frame. If lions are listed as endangered, then the U.S. market is closed to lion hunting which will cause a cascade of problems.

An endangered listing would essentially mean a total loss of U.S. citizen participation in lion hunting. International hunters would fill the void, but they would pay less to hunt. This means African lions would lose economic value. There would be an immediate reduction in revenue for private and government run anti-poaching efforts that protect lions, depredation compensation, and contributions to community development. As a result, farmers and ranchers will no longer have any incentive to protect lions – they would kill lions instead to protect their animals and families. Jobs and incomes of local people associated with the hunting industry would be at risk, and at the bottom of the cascade would be the lion. Ironically, lions will suffer most from the very Act that was designed to help conserve them.

In the past year, SCI Foundation has initiated or accomplished the following:

Population Research: Census surveys and organized research are of utmost importance to ensure the FWS and CITES have the correct information to make decisions. SCI Foundation has three major lion research projects underway, all of which are designed to improve lion conservation and management.

Conservation (Human-Wildlife Conflict and Anti-Poaching): With population growth, humans and lions increasingly share the same lands resulting in conflicts. Increased agriculture and livestock production replaces the habitat of lions and their prey, exacerbating the problem. The more lions interact with humans, the more common poaching for bush meat and retaliatory killings becomes. By preventing these conflicts, we can help protect African lions from illegal killings. SCI Foundation is in communication with African governments to learn how we can alleviate human-wildlife conflict.

Outreach and Education: Public opinion impacts regulatory decisions. SCI Foundation has completed public opinion surveys to help explain the impacts of an ESA listing and CITES up-listing to decision makers. Both regulatory mechanisms can have a great influence on hunters investing in the conservation of the African lion. Just like in the U.S., hunting generates conservation revenue in Africa.

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