March 1, 2011
Born Free Launches Campaign to Protect Lions under ESA
Africa’s lions have been a major part of my life. As a child I practically lived with them for nearly a year while my parents, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, starred (with the lions) in the movie “Born Free.” Later, I watched Mum and Dad help Christian, a lion cub owned by two Australians (Ace and John) bought from a department store in London and returned to Africa to a wild and free life under the careful supervision of "lion man" George Adamson.
As chief executive officer of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, I constantly and passionately advocate for these wonderful and increasingly threatened creatures.
Today is one of those special days. In a potentially landmark development in which the African lion’s very existence may be at stake, Born Free USA is partnering with other animal protection groups to urge that the animal be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Why would an endangered listing under U.S. law help a species from another continent, you may ask? In a nutshell here’s why:
- Fewer than 40,000 African lions remain in the wild due, mostly, to human-caused threats such as loss of habitat, reduced numbers of prey animals, commercial trade of lion “parts” and the abominable practice of “trophy” hunting.
- The United States is the largest importer of African lion parts and trophies. In fact, more than twice as many parts were shipped here in 2008 than in 1999.
An endangered listing means the United States would ban the importation of all commercially traded African lions and their parts unless the importation is deemed to enhance the species’ survival or is for scientific purposes. Right off, there would be a decrease in the levels of exploitation endured by African lions. The United States — instantly — would become a leader in African lion conservation, a move that I hope would inspire other countries to follow our lead.
The process for being listed as an endangered species can take years, but every great journey begins with a single step. Today, we begin our determined march to help preserve the mightily endangered, magnificent African lion.
For the lions,
P.S. Born Free USA will let you know as soon as the Department of the Interior publishes the petition in the Federal Register for public comment so you can write in support. Meanwhile, please bookmark our lions page, where we will post updates, and consider making a donation to help our work to save lions and other imperiled species.