THE BLOG
01/25/2013 09:24 pm ET Updated Mar 27, 2013

Banding Together to Ban Trophy Hunting and Protect African Lion Livelihood

Countries worldwide are noticing the detrimental effects trophy hunting has on already decimated wildlife populations.

Last month, Zambia's Minister of Tourism and Arts, Sylvia T. Masebo, announced that specific hunting licenses would be suspended as they had "been abused to the extent they threatened animal populations."

Now, the response of the Zambian government is escalating.

This week the government took the necessary action to ban lion and leopard hunting, citing that populations have abruptly declined in recent years.

Botswana has a similar stance. In this nation, a country-wide ban on sport hunting will begin on Jan. 1, 2014.

As President Ian Khama noted, "The shooting of wild game for sport and trophies is no longer compatible with our commitment to preserve local fauna."

And of course Kenya has had a long-standing policy against trophy hunting, as they banned trophy hunting and dealing in wildlife back in 1977. Trophy hunting was properly cited at the time by the new Kenyan government as "a barbaric relic of colonialism."

The United States government and Americans should keep this progressive movement in mind, and move away from killing for sport, particularly as the petition to list African lions as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act is being debated in the public arena and amongst government agencies.

Each year, the United States imports more than half of all lions captured and killed by sport trophy hunters. As the population of lions dwindles, with as few as 32,000 remaining in the wild, we have a responsibility to protect them.

A recent Synovate eNation poll found that if African lion populations are at risk of extinction, 96 percent of Americans believe that trophy hunting of imperiled African lions should not be allowed.

Listing the African lion as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act would prohibit the importation of lion trophies into the United States, thereby removing one of the biggest incentives for participating in this blood sport and taking a crucial step to curbing the continuing precipitous decline of the species.

With the U.S. government looking to make its decision on the petition to list the African lion as Endangered, hopefully the global trend away from trophy hunting will be looked at as a sign.

The American people don't want trophy hunting, and the nations that serve as home to these majestic creatures are starting to echo this same sentiment.

Needless killing of endangered species for trophies is inherently unsustainable, economically short-sighted, ecologically unsound, and morally wrong.

The sooner it ends for lions and other imperiled animals, the better.

Jeff Flocken is the North American Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). To learn more about protecting African lions, please visit www.helpafricanlions.org.