LionAid (http://www.lionaid.org) recently announced it is increasing its efforts to ban the export of wild lion trophies from South Africa by pointing out the discrepancy between actual wild lions left and wild lions available for export. The Scientific Review Group of the EC Wildlife Trade Regulation has been studying the issue and as of November 10, 2011, issued a ban on the import on all lion trophies categorized as "wild" into the European Union from South Africa. Apparently someone is just now figuring out that lions being exported from South Africa were being mislabeled.
If you are a lion conservationist, I highly recommend that you read the Lion Petition (http://www.ifaw.org/sites/default/files/Lion_Petition.pdf) filed in March last year by IFAW, Born Free, Humane Society International, The Humane Society of the United States, and Defenders of Wildlife. Study Table 4 in Section 4, titled "International Trade in African Lions and their Parts by Source Country." It doesn't take a mathematician to notice the discrepancies in the numbers and figure out that something doesn't add up. The Petition itself states that the numbers are self-reported by these countries, so why would anyone expect those numbers to be accurate? We can't continue to be so naive when the extinction of the African lion is at stake. The Petition was filed March 1, 2011 -- almost a year ago -- and it's taken this long for someone to notice the discrepancy and get a preliminary ban in place. I realize that a lot of work took place to get this ban in place and the wheels of progress move slowly. But we're running out of time here, folks. The lion is running out of time.
Back to the subject at hand. Let me be clear in stating that I'm all for this ban. I'm also all for the U.S. banning the import of all lion trophies (or any endangered or threatened species, for that matter). Humans will continue to slaughter animals on the brink of extinction for the mere sport and bragging rights until there won't be any animals left. Oh, and let's not forget the trophy. That lovely lion head of a once-majestic lion to hang on the wall. It doesn't take much to figure out that we humans are our own worst enemy. If there are people out there who don't care about the survival of this species, then those of us who do care need to put measures in place to stop them. It's as simple as that. But these measures must be rigidly enforced with a zero tolerance policy, both for those who break the bans and those who enrich themselves by looking the other way.
As for the progress on the U.S. Lion Petition, it's a waiting game. I checked in with Born Free recently and they have not heard any news from the Secretary of the Interior. Maybe they're hoping we'll just give up and go away. Find another "hobby." Ha.
We can't lose focus. We can't ease up. We must push forward even harder. If the African lion becomes extinct within the next ten to fifteen years as predicted, we've failed them. And we've failed ourselves and future generations. In the end, we'll get what we deserve when future generations look back and say, "why didn't you do something? why didn't you stop it?" By then it will be too late.