Opinion: African Lions Should Not Be Listed as Endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a petition from several animal rights groups to place the African lion on the list of endangered species. By law, species are to be placed on that list only when the Fish and Wildlife Service determines that they are currently “in danger of extinction.” In an attempt to garner support for the petition, a proponent claimed recently that the lion is “in danger of disappearing in our lifetimes.”
(Related: “Opinion: Why Are We Still Hunting Lions?“)
Is the condition of the lion really that dire? Fortunately, the most recent scientific data say no. A comprehensive study published last December concluded that there are between 32,000 and 35,000 lions living in the wild in Africa. The lion population is spread across 27 countries, with nine countries having populations of at least 1,000 lions. (See “The Serengeti Lion.”)
Of greatest significance is the fact that 24,000 of the lions, which is at least 68 percent of the total population, live in what the study terms “strongholds.” Strongholds are areas that meet “the necessary requirements for [the] long-term viability” of their lion populations.
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