–Chad Love

A coalition of international conservation groups is petitioning to have African lions listed under the Endangered Species Act as a way to curb American lion hunters.

From this story on the Scientific American website:
_A coalition of conservation groups filed a petition Tuesday to list the African lion (Panthera leo) as a protected species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), citing the American appetite for sports hunting and lion products˜such as lion-skin rugs˜as major factors in the big cat’s decline.
_The petition was filed by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society International (HSI), Born Free USA, Born Free Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife. “The king of the jungle is heading toward extinction, and yet Americans continue to kill lions for sport,” Jeff Flocken, IFAW’s Washington, D.C., office director, said in a prepared statement. “Our nation is responsible for importing over half of all lions brought home by trophy hunters each year. The African lion is in real trouble, and it is time for this senseless killing and unsustainable practice to stop.”

Although lions are difficult to count, populations are estimated to have dropped nearly 50 percent in the past three decades, mainly due to unsustainable hunting. Other threats include habitat loss, disease, the bushmeat trade, use of lion parts in traditional African medicine, and retaliatory killings for livestock killed by lions. Current estimates range from 23,000 to 40,000 lions left in Africa, down from an estimated 75,800 in 1980. According to the groups’ petition, at least 5,663 wild lions were traded internationally for recreational trophy hunting purposes between 1998 and 2008, with 64 percent of those trophies being imported into the U.S._