Thursday, 14 January 2016

African lions likely to gain enhanced protection status

African lions are set to gain greater international protection this year in the wake of the killing of Cecil by an American dentist in Zimbabwe in 2015.

Tough new US regulations on the importation of lion trophies will come into force on 22 January.

Separately, the global body that governs trade in species also expects moves to enhance the status of lions in 2016.

The number of lions in Africa has declined by half since the 1990s.

Global attention was focused on the plight of the African lion after Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil, who had been lured from Zimbabwe's Hwange national park, last July.

In December, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that lions from central and western Africa would be classified as endangered while those from southern and eastern Africa would be seen as threatened.

The move will make it significantly more difficult to import lion heads, paws or skins from all parts of the continent.

Campaigners welcomed the move and believe it could see the end of "canned" hunting, the practice of rearing lions in captivity who are then shot by hunters who pay huge sums for the privilege.

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