Entebbe, Uganda, 1 June 2016– In a historic move, representatives of 28 African lion Range States have reached broad agreement to secure the survival of this iconic species in the wild across Africa.
According to the 2015 IUCN Red List, African lion populations have experienced an overall decline of 43 per cent between 1993 and 2014. While populations increased in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe by 12 per cent over the same period thanks to good wildlife management, other sub-populations in the rest of Africa have plummeted by 60 per cent.
“African lion Range States share a common objective to ensure the survival of lions in the wild. There is agreement on the threats and, with a few exceptions, the way forward. CITES and CMS are delighted to offer their support to Range States to achieve their objective, with robust scientific support coming from IUCN”, said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES.
A carefully crafted consensus on the topic of trophy hunting was also agreed in Entebbe, with all lion Range States present accepting that trophy hunting of lions, if well managed, is a good conservation tool that should not be jeopardized by CITES or CMS. The 28 Range States “Highlight the benefits that trophy hunting, where it is based on scientifically established quotas, taking into account the social position, age and sex of an animal, have, in some countries, contributed to the conservation of lion populations”.
Habitat loss and degradation is the predominant threat to lions in Africa, triggered by human settlements encroaching into lion habitat. Prey depletion as a result of poaching for bush-meat, and indiscriminate killing in defense of livestock are other major causes of decline. If carefully controlled and monitored Trophy Hunting can help to reduce habitat loss then it should be encouraged and it has a role to play in the future of lion and other species in Africa.
It is important to note that the combination of a growing demand for non-consumptive (photographic) experiences through tourism and a slowly decreasing demand for trophy hunting is something that needs to be watched closely to ensure that rather than losing areas from trophy hunting to subsistence farming or simply degradation the transition is managed from hunting to photographic without any loss of habitat and animal numbers.
“The sharp declines in lion populations over the last decade mean there is clearly an urgent need to address the pressures affecting this majestic species. Strengthening the coordination and collaboration amongst the lion countries in Africa through workshops such as the one convened by CMS and CITES in Entebbe is key to reaching this goal,” said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of CMS.
At the next CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to be held later this year in South Africa, a proposal will be discussed for higher protection by transferring the African lion from Appendix II to Appendix I. Furthermore, various aspects of the trade in and management of lions will be discussed at CoP17, including guidance for sustained trophy hunting and enforcement.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora ( CITES )
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals ( CMS )
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