SCI Makes Sense Of The Lion Situation

Written by Outdoor Beasts Staff on April 18, 2016


From SCI

Safari Club International has learned that the African lion likely will be considered for listing on CITES Appendix I at the next major CITES meeting this October in Johannesburg. More than 180 countries will debate whether to move lions from their current listing on Appendix II to Appendix I. To help all hunters understand the significance of this issue, SCI provides the following list of frequently asked questions and answers.

Q1: What does CITES stand for? 
A1: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.  CITES is a global treaty that regulates international trade of threatened and endangered species of wildlife and plants.

Q2: What is CITES Appendix I?
A2:  Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in Appendix I species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Generally speaking, commercial trade is prohibited, but trade for personal use may be allowed. Trade in hunting trophies may be allowed because it is for personal use.

Q3: What is CITES Appendix II?
A3: Appendix II is less strictly controlled than Appendix I. Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to prevent overutilization. Trade in Appendix II species is regulated to prevent them from becoming threatened with extinction. Trade for personal and commercial purposes are allowed as long as the harvest is sustainable. Lions are currently listed in Appendix II.

Outdoor Beasts SCI Makes Sense Of The Lion Situation

Q4: How are species included in Appendix I or Appendix II? 
A4: The Conference of the Parties (CoP), which is the supreme decision-making body of CITES and comprises all its member States, has agreed on a set of biological and trade criteria to help determine whether a species should be included in Appendices I or II. At each regular meeting of the CoP, Parties submit proposals to list plant and animal species based on those criteria to amend these two Appendices. Those amendment proposals are discussed and then submitted to a vote.

Q5: How does SCI know lions will be proposed for listing in Appendix I?
A5: SCI is aware of a proposal to list lions in Appendix I that was drafted by four African countries. This proposal is being reviewed by other African lion range states that will provide comments and suggestions in a formal response to the proposal before it is officially submitted to CITES.

Q6: What will change if lions are listed in Appendix I?   
A6: Hunters would still be allowed to hunt lions, but to export any part of the hunted lion, they would need a CITES import permit from their state of residence in addition to a CITES export permit from the state where the animal was hunted. Importantly, some countries may implement national regulations or policies that are stricter than CITES and not allow the importation of lions that are listed on Appendix I. For captive-bred lions, specimens would have to be captive-bred in a CITES registered captive breeding facility. The requirements for such registrations are quite stringent and require support from all Parties. Commercial trade in lion parts would be prohibited.

Q7: What are the next steps for African lion in CITES?
A7: All proposals to amend the CITES Appendices, including the proposal to move lions from Appendix II to Appendix I, will be submitted by the deadline of 27 April 2016. Once CITES publishes the final proposals, everyone following CITES will review the proposals and form positions on whether they should be adopted, amended, or rejected at the CoP meeting this fall. Hunting and non-hunting organizations will advocate their positions to government representatives. The proposals will be debated at the CoP, and the member States will vote on the outcome. Any change in the listing of the lion in the CITES Appendices would go into effect 90 days after the CoP.

Q8: Is it possible for lions to be listed in Appendix II for some countries, and in Appendix I in others?
A8:  Yes, this is called a split-listing and is used for other species, such as African elephants.  This is a possible outcome of the lion issue, even though split-listings can create enforcement problems.

Q9: When will we know if the lion is going to be included in Appendix I, or if CITES keeps the lion where it is in Appendix II?
A9: A listing decision will be made no later than the 5th of October.  If the lion is retained in Appendix II, it will likely stay in Appendix II at least until the next CoP, which will be in 2-3 years.

Q10: Why should hunters care?
A10: Hunters should care for three main reasons. First, if lions are listed in Appendix I, importation of lion hunting trophies would be significantly harder for hunters across the world. For many, it would effectively end lion importation. Second, and more importantly, sustainable-use programs that benefit from lion hunting will suffer. It is no secret that the ability to export and import hunting trophies is an important part of effective hunting conservation programs. Without the ability to import, many hunters will not participate and the value of wildlife will decline. If lions are listed in Appendix I, critical conservation funding will be reduced in much of southern and eastern Africa. Third, lands currently used for hunting areas that protect the natural state of Africa’s ecosystems will be at risk of conversion to other land uses, such as agriculture. With the loss of lion hunters travelling from other countries, hunting may no longer be a viable form of land use in some areas.

Q11: How is SCI involved?
A11: SCI, along with SCI Foundation, has participated in CITES meetings and worked on related issues for several decades. While this proposal is unique to the upcoming CoP, SCI has worked to defeat similar proposals for lion and other species at previous CITES CoP meetings. Similar to our previous efforts, SCI will work with many governments and sustainable-use organizations, before and during the CoP, to defeat this unwarranted proposal. A group of members and staff will represent SCI and SCI Foundation at the CoP in Johannesburg and will work to ensure that trade in lion hunting trophies will continue.

Q12: What can you do to help?
A12: If you would like to help SCI, simply spread the word. The truth about hunting and sustainable use is often on the wrong side of public opinion. It is difficult for people to grasp the connection between hunting and conservation of species. The reality is that lion populations are increasing or stable in countries where lion hunting occurs. Habitat loss and loss of prey – primarily in western and central Africa where hunting typically does not occur – are the main sources of population declines for African lions, not hunting. The more the public knows about the benefits of hunting programs, the less likely it is that governments will be influenced by the misinformed (or ill-intentioned) public. For the truth about lion hunting and the benefits of sustainable-use conservation visit

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