More than a year and a half ago Born Free USA petitioned the Department of the Interior to list the African lion as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) — a vital effort to stop the population decline that has been hurtling the species toward extinction throughout much of its natural range. In November, the Department has published its notice that our petition may be warranted, opening a new 60-day comment period to receive further information on lion conservation and threats.
The lion cannot afford a delay in the national, and in fact international, protection that would come as a result of an ESA listing. As my colleague in the US, Adam Roberts, noted recently: “African lions are in danger of losing the land they require in order to thrive, are exposed to a variety of deadly diseases, are slaughtered for their meat and organs or in retaliatory killings — including by gruesome poisoning — as a result of livestock predation, and are killed for trophies and commercial sale of their parts. The U.S. government deserves high praise for taking the necessary first step toward ensuring a chance at survival for this beleaguered species.”
We must act before it’s too late. We must do all we can to reverse the decades-long decline in African lions living in the wild, stop the illegal trade in their parts, and eliminate any demand for atrocious menu items such as lion burgers.
This was an important day in our work to save the African lion. I hope there will be more days to come filled with good news for the species.