The brand-new rules will specifically resolve trophy hunts, prefer the one that killed the renowned Cecil the lion previously this year

Here’s roaring an excellent news: In a relocate several year in the making, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service today lastly announced the the african lion (Panthera leo) would formally be protected under the U.S. Endangered types Act.

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Specifically, the almost extinct lions of west and central Africa—a subspecies now called P. L. Leo—will be noted as endangered. Only about 1,400 of these lions stay scattered across more than a dozen countries, including the critically endangered Asiatic lions of India (the cat on the 2 continents were not previously taken into consideration the very same subspecies). One more lion subspecies—P. P. Melanochaita the east and southern Africa—will be provided as threatened. There are around 17,000 to 19,000 lions left in this subspecies, many of i beg your pardon live in defended but restricted habitats.

In a press conference, FWS manager Dan Ashe referred to as lions “iconic,” “a part of ours culture,” and one of the most beloved wildlife species on the planet.

Ashe referred to as the ESA listing critical step to setting a new course because that African lions, which are projected come lose an additional 50 percent the their populations over the next 20 years. The complete lion populace was approximated about half a million at the begining of the twentieth Century.

Lions in Africa challenge many threats, consisting of habitat loss, food depletion and also retaliatory killings for livestock depletions. The endangered species listing will aid to tackle another threat, the so-called “sports” hunting of lions favor we saw with the famous case of Cecil earlier this year. Ashe stated the listing will certainly not bar the import of trophies from these hunts into the U.S., yet it will “raise the bar significantly” and also require permits the prove any type of hunts were conducted in a sustainable manner. Nations which permit hunting will must prove come FWS the their programs actually enhance and protect wild populations—for example, by capital local communities and ensuring the lions do not pose a regarded threat come livestock—before any trophies native those hunts could be imported into the U.S.

Ashe additionally used the authority of his office come order that anyone who has actually previously violated wildlife legislations in the U.S. Or abroad be barred native receiving all future income permits for any wildlife species. This would include people like the dentist that shot Cecil the lion.

Although the majority of Ashe’s discussion focused on hunting, the ESA listing likewise frees up sources to help address other threats to lions, consisting of poaching and also illegal trafficking or lion parts. A proposed boosted fee for trophy imports will help to boost enforcement actions throughout the board. The ESA listing would likewise limit and also require permits because that the currently unrestricted interstate trade in captive african lions in ~ the U.S. And also place new restrictions ~ above the commerce of lion bones and other derivative products, according to FWS spokesperson Vanessa Kauffman.

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Conservation teams praised the ESA listing, while also pointing out that a many of added work is required to save wild lions. “Trophy searching is just one small factor contributing come the lion’s existing status,” stated Luke Hunter, president and chief preservation officer of Panthera, an organization dedicated to protecting the world’s huge cat species. “While today’s bolder actions are welcome, they will not stem the rapid decline of the types brought on through far an ext pressing and pervasive threats, especially the illegal bushmeat market that empties afri savannahs of wildlife, and also the extensive killing the lions by human being in defense of their livestock. Lions have already disappeared indigenous 22 nations in Africa. Reversing this tragic sample will call for the many local, national and international stakeholders in the lion’s future come commit to its protection on a cool scale.”

The brand-new rules walk into result on Jan. 22, 2016.

Previously in extinct Countdown:

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John R. Platt is the editor that The Revelator. One award-winning eco-friendly journalist, his job-related has showed up in scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and also numerous various other magazines and also publications. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously due to the fact that 2004 and has extended news and also science related to more than 1,000 threatened species. John stays on the suburbs of Portland, Ore., whereby he find himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.Follow john R. Platt top top Twitter