Members of the South African Predator Association recently attended an informational seminar presented by Safari Club International during their Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The topic was the pressure put on the wild lion population of Africa by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's misguided decision to enact regulations which would make it difficult, if not legally impossible, to import lion trophies to America.
While SAPA is greatly perturbed by the USFWS's moves which are increasingly muddying the regulatory waters, we are greatly encouraged by SCI's bold stance on the subject. SAPA is in the last line of trenches fighting a rear-guard action to preserve the hunting of ranch lions and thereby safeguarding the future of wild lions in South Africa. SAPA is especially grateful for the staunch support from the premier hunting organization in the world.
SCI indicated that they find the USFWS's reasons for complicating the importation of captive-bred lion trophies confusing. While SCI's seminar and efforts are on behalf of lion hunting in general, it is SAPA's contention that that captive-bred lions deserve treatment in a special category. Surely the regulations for listing a sub-species under the Endangered Species Act should not be so rigid as not to differentiate between lions reared in game reserves like the Kruger National Park and those raised on lion farms. Captive-bred lions do not belong on a list of threatened subspecies. In fact their numbers are steady and increasing at a healthy rate. This is due to the care given to them by dedicated lion breeders who are enabled to do so by the income received from lion hunters. This revenue stream would be severely curtailed if the hunters are somehow prohibited from importing their lion trophies to the United States.
It would be the supreme and very sad irony if the lion in South Africa really became a threatened species merely because it was erroneously listed as such.
SAPA is heartened by the fact that SCI recognizes the assault on the lion-hunting industry as the opening salvo in a war on the entire time-honoured human endeavour of hunting in general. The misinformed opponents of hunting will check off demise of the lion-hunting industry as just another success before marshalling their forces against other segments of the hunting culture. One of the audience members said it perfectly, "In this situation, whither the lion goes, the kudu follows."
SCI has indicated that they will resist to the end any attempts to curtail their members' basic human right to hunt animals. They can rely on SAPA's unwavering support in this long and arduous struggle. The hunting industry's contribution to conservation is so indispensable that if SCI and SAPA were to be defeated, it could spell the end, not only of the hunting industry, but of the noble African lion itself.