Over the years I have been involved in many debates around lions, captive breeding, petting, trophy hunting, canned hunting etc etc.
So lets put our differences aside on those issues, and discuss what is best for the lions.
I see there is a move afoot to uplift lions to appendix I at CITES by an animal rights NGO and some others.
The IUCN reported that lion numbers have reduced by 43% in the last 21 years.
The Lion population is inferred to have undergone a reduction of approximately 43% over the past 21 years (approximately three Lion generations, 1993-2014).
21 years may be as long as three lion generations, but its well known that lion populations can easily double in two years if the conditions are right. So are we providing the right conditions?
This dichotomy is reflected in listings of the species in different Red Lists: in South Africa, the Lion will be categorized as Least Concern on the national Red List in preparation (Child et al. In prep.), whereas in India it is Endangered (as subspecies P. l. persica on the global IUCN Red List: Breitenmoser et al. 2008) and in the region of West Africa meets the criteria for Critically Endangered (Henschel et al. 2014, 2015). The range state list in Table 1 (attached Supporting Material) further illustrates the high threat levels across the species’ broad geographic range, as Lions have been recently extirpated in 12 African countries and we suspect possible recent extirpation in another four.
It seems that they have grouped African lion and Indian lion in one bunch to ad some drama to their figures.
Among the causes of decline, the most important are indiscriminate killing in defence of human life and livestock, habitat loss, and prey base depletion. Prey base depletion is partly linked to habitat loss, but more importantly to poaching and bushmeat trade (Becker et al. 2013). An emerging threat is trade in bones and other body parts for traditional medicine, both within Africa and in Asia (IUCN 2006a, b; Riggio et al. 2013).
I have to add here that killing wild lions for body parts is extremely rare. Most lion bones have been provided from the captive bred populations.
The striking contrast between these three countries in southern Africa and the rest of the continent is probably related to the equally striking differences in human population densities (Packer et al. 2013) in Namibia (2.5/km²), Botswana (3.4) and Zimbabwe (26) vs. Benin (78), Burkina Faso (57), Cameroon (40), Cote d’Ivoire (64), Ghana (102), Kenya (67), Nigeria (189), Rwanda (420), Senegal (68), Tanzania (48), Uganda (137) and Zambia (45).
How will up-listing lion help? What will the result of a total ban on trophy hunting do for the lion? considering that the main causes of "decline" are cited as habitat loss and conflict (which are the same thing)
As with all these single specie issues - shouldn't we be looking for solutions where the problem is most serious and look towards the areas that have had the least decline for answers?