Africa Program: Wildlife Management
To support the Range States in completing the CITES Periodic Review of the African lion. This action will review the population status and determine whether existing policies are nondetrimental and sustainable across multiple Range States. At the Animals Committee (Geneva, Switzerland, July 2011), the recommendation from the United States to enter lions into Periodic Review was supported by the Range States present. The purpose is to determine the status of lion populations across its range using the best available science. The status of lions will be used to decide the appropriateness of maintaining the species on CITES Appendix II. One potential outcome, up-listing to Appendix I, would decrease revenue for management of the species and increase human lion conflict.
SCI Foundation's role is to assist the lion Range States with presenting the available data regarding the species for assessment. Representatives from Namibia and Kenya will co-chair the working group involved in the Periodic Review.
Past Research for the African Lion
Lions pose hardships for many African communities as a major predator of domestic livestock, as well as a threat to human lives in some areas. However, the lion is a major draw for tourists, researchers, and hunters. Surveys in the early and mid-2000s indicated a species decline of 30-50% of the population, which brought the lion onto the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. The potential for the species to disappear would "represent a great loss for the traditional culture of Africa" as the lion is a "powerful and omnipresent symbol." The ICUN began working in 2004 with the Wildlife Conservation Society to map current lion range and priority areas for lion conservation in two regions: West and Central Africa, and Eastern and Southern Africa.
In 2006, the first of two lion conservation workshops took place to discuss the data (technical session) and to develop a strategic plan for lion conservation in Eastern and Southern Africa. In the technical session, it was "found that the lion has been extirpated from at least 30% of its historical range. Sixty-six important lion populations were identified as priorities for conservation, comprising 61% of known and possible lion range in the region." Threats were also identified, including efficacy of management, availability of wild prey, and presence of domestic livestock. Several threats were identified as being driven by human population growth and poverty.
The goal of the Lion Conservation Strategy, for Eastern and Southern Africa: "To secure, and where possible, restore sustainable lion populations throughout their present and potential range, recognizing their potential to provide substantial social, cultural, ecological, and economic benefits." There are six objectives for accomplishing this goal, which can be found in the PDF report, Regional Conservation Strategy for the Lion in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The conservation workshops for West and Central Africa were held in 2006, too, following a similar format for discussion and strategy. Some of the leading threats to lions in these regions include habitat loss, reduction of wild prey, lion-human conflict, and increased extinction vulnerability due to small population size. The goal of the Lion Conservation Strategy, for West and Central Africa: "Ensure the conservation and sustainable management of the lion. To achieve this goal, this strategy has four objectives: conserve lion habitat, conserve the lions wild prey base, to make human-lion cohabitation sustainable, and reduce the factors decreasing the viability of lion populations." You can read more in the PDF report, Regional Conservation Strategy for the Lion in West and Central Africa.
Safari Club International Foundation is pleased to announce that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Division of Management Authority, has authorized the importation of sport hunted elephant trophies taken in the 2011 hunting season (Read "The Value of Trophy Hunting"). This historic announcement was made during a meeting between the FWS and the Zambian government at the 2011 SCI Annual Hunters' Convention in Reno, Nevada.
Zambia opened elephant hunting in 2005. Since that time, SCI Foundation facilitated several government to government meetings and information sharing on wildlife management. After numerous discussions and exhanges of information FWS determined that the requirements established under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) to import Zambia elephants have been met.
Why is this announcement significant? The Afterian elephant is listed as "Threatened" under the ESA, which means importation of elephants into the U.S. is prohibited. However, the ESA establishes specific criteria for the importation of "threatened" species, that when met, lift the restrictions on importation. Specifically, the ESA requires that the FWS determine that an otherwise prohibited activity, in this case, the importation of an African elephant trophy, must be shown to enhance the propagation or survival of a species.
Based on the information provided by the Zambia Wildlife Authority anad the material that was presented at the 15th meeting of the Conferences of the Parties to CITES in Qatar, 2010, FWS determined that Zambia has developed a very strong elephant management program and the management plan under which sport hunting occurs provides a demonstrable benefit to the species.
After 2011, Zambia will have to show how the revenue generated from elephant hunting is used by the government and local communities before trade continues with the U.S. This is where SCI Foundation hopes to directly link benefits of hunting to the elephant conservation and management efforts implemented by the Zambia government.
"After years of collaboration, the FWS has made the determination that sustainable hunting of elephants will contribute to the enhancement of the survival of elephants in Zambia," said SCI Foundation President Joseph Hosmer. "Hunting is a key component of wildlife conservation and management worldwide. The SCI Foundation is very proud to be part of the announcement."
Hunters should know that Zambia elephants, like Tanzania elephants, are still listed on CITES Appendix I. This means that trade in elephant hunting trophies from these countries requires both CITES import and export permits. In the countries of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, elephants are listed on CITES Appendix II, and trade in elephant hunting trophies requires a CITES export permit only. When a trophy is passing through countries for taxidermy or shipping purposes, re-export permits are also required when an export permit is required.
SCI Foundation will continue supporting wildlife conservation worldwide and demonstrating how hunting is vital to the success of some wildlife management programs, including programs for threatened and endangered species conservation.