The 12-month finding on the antis’ petition to list all African lion as endangered is still months away in our estimate. This is evident from the planned events related to this issue. Conservation Force has been invited to participate in a one-day African Lion Workshop in Arlington at Service Headquarters on June 26, 2013, to discuss the conservation status of the African lion.
“The purpose of this workshop is to provide a forum for African lion species experts and key stakeholders to provide information that may be useful in the status review of the species. A status review is a comprehensive assessment of a species’ biological status and threats under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
“The US Fish & Wildlife Service was petitioned to list the African lion (Panthera leo leo) under the Endangered Species Act on March 1, 2011. On November 27, 2012 we published a 90-day finding, which initiated the status review. As part of the status review, the Service is assembling the best scientific and commercial information available. We have taken many steps to achieve that outcome, including contacting the species’ range countries to request that they provide any new information on the status of the African lion. Your participation in the upcoming workshop will be another important step in ensuring that we have the best available information upon which to base our petition finding.”
I am scheduled to make a PowerPoint presentation on Secure Habitat and Prey in the Eastern and Southern African Range
. During the workshop, the presentations will be open for discussion by the entire group. “The presentations and other information shared at the workshop will be part of the administrative record for the status review….”
It is Conservation Force’s position that the lion should not be listed at all in Eastern and Southern Africa, which is its principle range today, and should only be listed as threatened in the West and Central Africa range. Given the high fecundity of lion (rabbit-like birth rate), the lion is not at risk of endangerment if there is adequate habitat and prey and necessary management infrastructure. Some of the largest protected areas in the world exist in Eastern and Southern Africa and the secure habitat and prey they provide ensures long-term survival of the lion. Compare Yellowstone National Park in the United States (2.22 million acres) with Kruger National Park (4.81 million acres), Selous Game Reserve (11.07 million acres), Niassa Reserve (10 million acres), Hwange National Park (3.62 million acres), Kafue National Park (3.54 million acres), Etosha National Park (5.51 million acres), Chobe National Park (2.89 million acres), Serengeti National Park (3.65 million acres), et al. These areas are secure and growing. Billions of dollars are being expended every year to create 10 tri-national conservation areas in Eastern and Southern Africa, incorporating these protected areas. Peace Parks Greater Limpopo conservation area is 100 million acres, the Kavango-Zambia area is 110 million acres (each greater than all national wildlife refuges in the United States), etc.
The most up-to-date estimates show approximately 32,000 lion in 78 lion areas. Most are in Category I Lion Conservation Unit (LCU) areas expected to last more than one-hundred years. Ten areas qualify as “strongholds” (four in East Africa, six in Southern Africa) comprising 24,000 lion. Those strongholds are of secure lion in populations of 500 or more that are stable or increasing in number. Another 4,000 are in potential “strongholds.”
Countries like Tanzania have devoted 40 percent of their total habitat to protected areas. Hunting areas are a third of that, but more significantly, 80 percent of the surface used by lions is located inside hunting areas that form part of the protected area system.
Conservation Force is presenting a PowerPoint presentation with this information and much more that makes it clear that the lion should never be in danger of extinction or even threatened (at risk of becoming in danger of extinction). We have consulted the foremost lion experts in key areas to prepare the graphical sections of the presentation to authoritatively demonstrate the points. We are to make one presentation but with parts composed by the foremost experts in the world.