Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Lions in the spotlight

11 November 2014

Categories: Homepage News, Big Cats Campaign News

Dr James Gichiah Njogu, Rosalyn Morrison of Born Free USA & Mark Jones of Born Free Foundation CMS in Quito – © BFF

Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA representatives have been working with delegates at the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in Quito, Ecuador, to ensure lions are extended protection that they so desperately need. Member countries, also known as ‘Parties’ to the Convention, have agreed to a Resolution which will provide a framework for collaborative efforts to protect the species. This is great news, especially considering most lion range states are Parties to CMS. The species has come to the attention of the CMS because many populations span or cross international borders between African countries, meaning that they classify as ‘migratory’ under the Convention’s rules.

Lions are in real trouble. The total African population is thought to have fallen by almost 50% since 1980, and they now occupy less than a fifth of their historic range in Africa. There may be as few as 32,000 remaining across the continent. A new assessment by the scientific body, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), due to be published next year, is widely expected to reveal further devastating declines, especially in west and central parts of Africa.

The reasons for the lion’s decline are complex, but retaliatory killing, depletion of prey, habitat loss and conversion to farmland, disease, illegal international trade in lion parts and poorly managed trophy hunting operations, all carry a part of the blame. Highlighting the trouble lions are in, the end of last month saw the seizure of lion skins and teeth as part of a massive haul of wildlife parts supplying an international trading hub in Senegal in West Africa from Niger, Mali, Congo, Kenya and other African countries.

Indeed, Kenya tabled a proposal for consideration in Quito to have lions listed in Appendix II of the Convention, which would have required the range states and other CMS Parties to work together to develop continental or regional agreements to improve protection for lions across their range. Since the Appendix II listing didn’t meet universal approval from the Range States, it was withdrawn during the meeting. Fortunately, the Parties agreed to an alternative Resolution calling for an urgent meeting of range states and other stakeholders in order to work together to find solutions to the continuous decline of lion populations across Africa.

Dr James Gichiah Njogu, Head of Conventions and Research Authorisation at the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya’s Delegate to CMS CoP11, said:

“Kenya is pleased with the Resolution on Lion which replaced the Lion Proposal following elaborate African Region deliberations on what is best for the Lions for the time being. Even though a listing in appendix II was not achieved, the Resolution will go a long way in guiding immediate actions for the lions. This is a win - win situation for the Lion Range States, for the Lions, and for all Parties here who were keen on the Lion proposal. Kenya expresses our sincere gratitude.”

The Born Free Foundation’s acting CEO, Adam M. Roberts said:

“While we were disappointed that the Appendix II listing proposal for lions was withdrawn, the agreed Resolution should guide lion range states and other countries in Africa and beyond to develop effective collaborative conservation measures for lions. Lions are in serious decline across most of their remaining range, with many populations already too small and isolated to survive. We need real and meaningful action now if we are to prevent a situation where future generations will only be able to see these magnificent animals behind fences or bars and not in the wild, where they belong.”

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