Captive-Bred Lion Importations Denied to US Hunters

Posted On : Nov 18, 2016

Posted By : JM

Non-importable African Lion Trophy

Captive-Bred Lion Imports Denied to US Hunters

On October 20, 2016 Dan Ashe, Director of US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced “that sport hunting of wild and wild-managed lions does contribute to the long-term conservation of the species in South Africa.  Lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting.”  This goes against various anti-hunting organizations like The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and International Fund for Animal Welfare.  He went on to state that under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) wild and wild-managed lion trophies will be allowed to be imported from South Africa.  However, the United States will not allow importation of captive lion trophies.  Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe will only be permitted to import hunted lions after the USFWS reviews adequate evidence supporting progress in the long term benefits to the lion population in these countries.

Ensuring that the wild lion populations continue to roam Africa is becoming more difficult, due to encroaching population and rampant poaching.  However, the HSUS has stated that the United States is the biggest importer of lions and lion parts.  Their director of their wildlife department said that “American’s thirst for exotic goods and trophies to hang on their walls is driving lions to extinction.  The African lion simply cannot endure this level of exploitation if their long-term survival is to be insured.”

The HSUS’s statement seems to be in direct opposition to the USFWS who go on to say that they recognize the need to work with African nations and conservation groups to help them teach communities near lion populations that they need to view lions as an asset, not a liability.  Sub-Saharan human population is estimated to double by 2050.  This will cause encroachment into existing wild habitat through agriculture and residential growth.  Also, people are depleting the animals that lions hunt through selling bushmeat, or consuming them.  Eventually, when the lion’s natural source of food is removed, they will turn to raiding livestock and endangering people.  Then, they will be considered vermin, and have no value whatsoever. 

Unless measures are taken to protect lions and the animals they depend upon, there’s a very good chance they will disappear from the wild.  Under controlled conditions, lion conservation programs, including sport hunting, can aid in the lion’s long-term survival.  Closer to home, American hunters who make up large share of African hunters can help lion conservation by participating in these programs.  Sport hunting of wild lions can and does aid the long-term conservation of not only the lion, but also of other animals and their habitat.  Lions are not in danger of extinction because of responsible hunting activities.

The main factors in lion population losses are habitat loss, prey loss, human-lion conflicts that result in retaliatory killing, poor regulations, and little, or no, management of Protected Areas.  Well-regulated sport hunting can, and does, provides a benefit to lion conservation.  If lion hunting, lion importation, or ownership of lion trophies becomes illegal, lion hunting will cease.  The law of unintended consequences will then take over.  With the cessation of lion hunting, Professional Hunters, and their safari companies will suffer a huge drop in revenue.  Lions aren’t hunted in areas frequented by tourists.  Roads must be built, wells, drilled, camps maintained, local people employed.  With lion hunting no longer possible, there would be no reason for any of these things to continue.  With people no longer able to earn a living, poaching would increase by a very large percentage. Sport hunting employs a lot of people who depend entirely on it for their survival.  When Botswana closed hunting in 2014, many thousands of people who were supported either directly, or indirectly, by the sport hunting industry were affected. 

No upkeep on the wells would affect the entire habitat’s animal population.  This would lead to an overall decrease in all species numbers.  Responsible sport hunting not only contributes to the survival of numerous species, but also aids the communities that have hunting concessions on their land.  The local population gain through concession payments that go to community services like aid clinics, schools, hunting-related employment, and perhaps most important, a steady supply of meat.  A lot of communities in the bush have no access to a reliable source of protein.  They also have no access to firearms, nor the money to pay for them if they were available.  So they either have to rely on handouts, or attempt to hunt wild animals by the use of snares or other inhumane methods