The Background There is an effort underway to list the African Lion as an endangered species in the U.S. As the nation that produces the most lion hunters (60 percent according to African officials), such a designation would have a tremendous effect on the safari industry in Africa. But is it the right move for the lion?
The Players On one hand, you have a collection of "animal rights" organizations, while on the other side you have the actual custodians of the lions themselves. Tanzania's Director of Wildlife for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism recently penned this op-ed in The New York Times opposing the up-listing of the lion. Director Songorwa's position can be summarized as follows: Designating the lion as an endangered species in the U.S. would be devastating to wild lion populations and conservation efforts that support them.
The Truth from the Ground The Bubye Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe is one of Africa's most successful public-private conservation efforts. This 850,000-acre conservancy has done such a good job protecting its natural resources that Zimbabwean authorities have moved many of their truly endangered black rhinos out of the national parks and into the protective bubble of the Conservancy. This video tells the whole story in an honest and straightforward way and I highly recommend that you give it a look. If you have any interest in conservation and protecting the future of African wildlife, I urge you to take the time to watch this and forward it to your non-hunting friends.
The Ruling Appropriately designed and managed hunting programs that fund conservation efforts are key to the survival of the African Lion. A ban by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would have drastic negative effects on existing and future conservation efforts and have the opposite effect that the proponents of this idea claim to intend.
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