The listing proposal deadline passed in October for the 15th Conference of the Parties of CITES. The various draft lion uplisting proposals that had been passed around by the antis in search of a country that would sponsor them were not among the proposals. There is absolutely no doubt that an uplisting proposal would have been introduced but for the unprecedented conservation efforts of the safari hunting world. The danger of a future uplisting to Appendix I will remain until the lion is secure. It is up to the hunting community to make the lion’s survival in the wild a reality, lest we be removed from the conservation equation forever and the demise of the African lion shortly follow.
This success was not an accident. Less than a year ago there was not a single true lion action plan in place in any country. Imagine! None were even in preparation in most of the lion’s range. National Geographic began a crisis campaign, the Wildlife Conservation Society categorized the African lion as a “species in crisis,” and even the November issue of Vogue magazine ran a feature article that claimed, “[t]he news is in: Lions in the wild are under threat” and that the lion is “now endangered.” Some of the foremost lion scientists in the world were seriously entertaining support for lion uplisting. For months the African Lion Working Group, ALWG, debated the pros and cons of uplisting. Yours truly represented hunting interests in that group day and night in earnest debate as the scales swung back and forth.
In response to the listing threat, Tanzania, with the largest lion population in the world, adopted specific age restrictions on trophies and stringent penalties for underage lions. From the Cameroon Lion Workshop in February to the kick-off of the lion study in Tanzania in November, the hunting community pumped over half a million dollars into noteworthy African lion conservation in less than a year, despite the state of the world economy. I don’t recall such an unprecedented species-specific investment in Africa. As this goes to press, Conservation Force still needs approximately $70,000 to fulfill its pledges to complete the work in progress that was undertaken in trust upon our promises that the bills would be paid. Of course, we are in critical need of funding for all that we are doing now. Those who can afford it, please help us pay our African lion debt. All sums received for the lion have been a 100 percent pass-through and are tax deductible. The largest share of the bills has been paid by Conservation Force and its allied partners, though I must add that would not have been enough but for the substantial commitment made by SCI and SCIF. They are particularly due credit for contracting with Philippe Chardonnet for lion work in Mozambique and Tanzania.
Philippe Chardonnet is an important Board Member of Conservation Force, the Executive Director of the IGF in Paris, a member of the IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group, the African Lion Working Group and was the primary author of Conservation Force’s “Chardonnet Lion Study,” which is the most comprehensive status review of lion ever completed in all of Africa. As well as becoming the foremost lion conservation planner in the world, he co-chairs the IUCN’s Antelope Specialist Group. Chardonnet was groomed for years by Prince Abdorezza and Baron Bertrand des Clers to head the IGF and to replace Bertrand on Conservation Force’s Board of Directors. We are proud to have him aboard.
First and foremost, Conservation Force is a conservation organization. We have endeavored to become the Ducks Unlimited of the African lion. Indeed, we are the Ducks Unlimited of the African lion at this time. We can save the lion, and if we don’t, no one will be the greater loser than the hunting community.
We have succeeded, so please help us pay the bills. With your help the lion will forever roar. Send donations to Conservation Force, PO Box 278, Metairie, LA 70004-0278 USA; or online at http://www.conservation force.org.