Tag Archives: lions

U.S. Hopes to Extend Its Endangered Species Protections to Lions in Africa

Just 5 months after the death of Cecil the lion, the U.S. is making moves to protect lions all the way in Africa.

The U.S. plans to extend its endangered species protection to those big cats, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will classify lions in southern and eastern Africa as threatened and those in central and western Africa as fully endangered. This will put into practice tighter restrictions on the import of lion trophies and body parts.

This plan is significant because around 50% of all lion hunting in Africa is carried out by Americans. More than 5,600 lions have been poached and imported by American hunters in the last 10 years, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

With these new rules, people will be prohibited from bringing lion parts into the U.S. if the lion is from a country where they are endangered. In addition, any hunter that does bring a trophy in, will have to show that they were “legally obtained” from countries that have a “scientifically sound management program that benefits the subspecies in the wild.”

Photo by Derek Keats / CC BY 2.0
Photo by Derek Keats / CC BY 2.0

An international study found that the number of African lions have dropped by half since 1993 and are expected to decline another 50% the next 20 years in west, central and east Africa. Decreasing lion populations are caused by hunting, as well as habitat loss, and these new rules put the burden of proof on hunters.

Although lions are suffering these dramatic declines, they are only listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The organization estimates that there are around 20,000 lions total left in Africa.

Director of the FWS Dan Ashe says:

“The lion is one of the planet’s most beloved species and an irreplaceable part of our shared global heritage. If we want to ensure that healthy lion populations continue to roam the African savannas and forests of India, it’s up to all of us – not just the people of Africa and India – to take action. Sustainable trophy hunting as part of a well-managed conservation program can and does contribute to the survival of the species in the wild, providing real incentives to oppose poaching and conserve lion populations.”

Featured image by Tambako The Jaguar / CC BY-ND 2.0

3 Big wins for Wildlife Conservation in 2015

A lot is going wrong in the world of conservation, from the poaching crisis and wildlife trade to deforestation and illegal logging, and beyond. Still, we did see some major victories for animals last year. Here are 3 big wins for wildlife in 2015:

1. Elephants
In May, Nepal released numbers that showed the numbers of their endangered one-horned rhinos were up to 675 – a whopping 300 more animals than a decade ago. In August, Thailand destroyed its ivory to join in the fight against poaching elephants and the wildlife trade. And in September, the two largest markets for elephant ivory, U.S. and China, agreed to enact a complete ban on ivory trade.

Chief executive of the Wildlife Conservation Society Cristián Samper told TakePart:

“Two of the most powerful heads of state want an end to all ivory trade. That’s only good news for elephants, and we call upon all governments to follow suit. Once both nations definitively take this action, ivory trafficking will begin to fall, and the number of elephants could rise again.”


Image by Lucy Rickards / CC BY 2.0
Image by Lucy Rickards / CC BY 2.0

2. Oceans
A lot happened for for oceans in 2015: in July, the Philippines created its first sanctuary for the declining shark and ray populations. In September, New Zealand banned fishing, oil exploration, mining and other human disturbances in an area of ocean twice the size of the country itself. And in November, the U.S. and Cuba agreed to protect coral reefs and marine wildlife in the 90-miles of ocean between the two countries.


Image by Pius Mahimbi / CC BY-SA 2.0
Image by Pius Mahimbi / CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Lions
In 2015, we witnessed the tragic killing of Cecil the lion. But that catapulted the poaching issue, and the search for solutions, into the public eye. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to give the African lion endangered species protections. In addition, 45 commercial airlines banned the transportation of hunting trophies from lions, elephants and rhinos in 2015.

Featured image by Stuart Orford
/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Lions Have Returned to Rwanda After 15 Years

This year, seven lions were reintroduced to Rwanda, where the wild population died out a few years after the 1994 genocide.

Two males and five females were taken a 30-hour journey from South Africa to Akagera national park, a 276,800 acre area in Rwanda that borders Tanzania. The park is equipped with electric fencing and the lions with satellite collars.

Lions were wiped out in the region following the 1994 Rwanda genocide when refugees and displaced people killed the last of the lions to protect their livestock. But the endangered animal’s return symbolizes both a success for conservation and for the nation. Akagera is only about a two hour drive from Rwanda’s capital and an important tourist destination that could see a surge in popularity from the return of the lions.

As of last month, the lion is still listed as vulnerable in the world by the IUCN with the threat of wildlife trade increasing. But Akagera park provides these animals with a safe, natural habitat where they can hopefully flourish. Park officials are also working to reintroduce rhinos in Akagera, which, if successful, would be another great conservation achievement.

Photo by ollografik / CC BY-ND 2.0
Photo by ollografik / CC BY-ND 2.0

Featured image by Diana Robinson / CC BY-ND 2.0