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‘Last Lions’ Filmmaker Applauds Petition to U.S. to List African Lion as Endangered


Photograph by Beverly Joubert

The petition filed with the U.S. Department of Interior by a coalition of wildlife groups to list African lions as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act has been welcomed by Dereck Joubert, director of the new National Geographic film The Last Lions.

“This petition comes at a vitally important time when we are looking down the barrel of extinctions of wild lions. Its a shocking tipping point when there are more tigers in captivity than there are in the wild, and what happens to tigers today happens to lions tomorrow,” Joubert said in an email.

“We are releasing our film, The Last Lions, across the United States, at the same time as this petition goes in to the Department of Interior. We endorse the petition, because it’s time for a real conversation about this issue at all levels.”

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, Born Free USA, Born Free Foundation and Defenders of Wildlife, filed the petition last week.

“The population and range of the African lion are in alarming decline,” the coalition of wildlife groups noted in a news release. “During the past two decades, the number of African lions has declined by at least 48.5 percent as a result of retaliatory killings, loss of habitat and prey species, over-exploitation by recreational trophy hunters and commercial trade, disease, and other human-caused and natural factors. Today, there are fewer than 40,000 African lions remaining — most of them in just a handful of countries. Of the remaining populations, two-thirds are neither protected nor viable over the long run.”

“The African lion is facing an uncertain future at best,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “There is a real possibility that more African countries will lose their wild lions altogether if the current situation is not reversed,” “Currently, lions are not adequately protected by existing regulatory measures at national, regional or international levels. We need to take urgent measures to conserve the African lion before it’s too late.”

The petition documents that international trade in African lions and their parts, including trophy hunting, is playing a role in the reduction of the population. “From 1998 through 2008, at least 7,445 wild lions were traded internationally with the United States importing a minimum of 4,021. Additionally, 64 percent of the 5,663 wild lions
traded internationally for recreational trophy hunting purposes were imported to the United States,” the colation news release explained.

“The king of the jungle is heading toward extinction, and yet Americans continue to kill lions for sport,” said Jeff Flocken, Washington D.C. office director of IFAW. “Our nation is responsible for importing over half of all lions brought home by trophy hunters each year. The African lion is in real trouble and it is time for this senseless killing and unsustainable practice to stop.”

According to the wildlife organizations, despite the significant and continued declines in population and range, the number of lion trophies imported to the United States is increasing.

“In 2008, trophy imports to the United States were greater than any other year in the preceding decade and more than twice the number in 1999.

“Listing the African lion as Endangered would generally prohibit the import of lion trophies into the United States, an essential step to reversing the current decline of the population. Moreover, the listing would stop imports of commercially traded lions and lion parts that do not benefit lions in the wild.”

“The United States is the leading importer of lions and lion parts for commercial and recreational trade – this includes skulls, claws, hides, and live lions,” said Teresa Telecky, director of the wildlife department at The HSUS. “Americans’ thirst for exotic goods and trophies to hang on their walls is driving lions to extinction. The African lion
simply cannot endure this level of exploitation if their long-term survival is to be ensured.”

Protection under the ESA would also help increase global awareness to the plight of the African lion and may generate additional resources to tackle in-country threats such as poisoning, persecution and habitat
loss that currently confront wild lions, the wildlife organuzations added.

“The U.S. government must recognize that African lions are in danger of extinction throughout a significant portion of their range, acknowledge our nation’s significant role in the lion’s fate and bring greater scrutiny to all factors contributing to the decline of lion populations,” said Bob Irvin, senior vice president for conservation programs at Defenders of Wildlife. “The African lion is a vital cultural asset, a symbol of the world’s last great vestiges of wildness, and a critical part of healthy ecosystems that must be protected.”

The Secretary of the Interior has 90 days to assess whether an Endangered listing under the ESA may be warranted, 12 months to decide whether to propose listing and then another 12 months to make a final

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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  1. zainab
    June 26, 2012, 1:58 pm

    Americans can do more to raise awareness, after all they control the media. But no. They are a selfish bunch that cares only for their own kind.
    I literally am lost for words. These poor creatures deserve to roam freely, they are a vital part of the eco system. I love lions dearly, and I am disgusted that my country has not made it illegal to hunt lions.
    We need to stand together as 1 and do away with trophy hunting

  2. divan
    south africa
    October 27, 2011, 3:11 am

    I been working with lions now for a year and its so sad to know this facts and its true there is so much trophy hunting going on its not good for the well kept being if lions in our future, only thing that i would want to do now after hearing this is give all my stuff up and go to nearest African neighbour and go rehabilitate them back into the wild its not about money its about keeping this species alive and wild for our future generations to take care of and a lion will always remain the king of the jungle no matter what, just imagine if there are no more lions tomorrow how would we see this world then? what can replace a majestic beast like that….NOTHING

  3. tim
    September 6, 2011, 11:04 am

    Having recently visited the selous in tanzania my views on hunting have changed slightly. While I am disgusted by the handful of people from the us and uk who are almost exclusively the people who come to hunt the lions, they take well under 1% of the lions of this great park, and that financially supports an area large enough for 5000.

    There are many places where hunting is unacceptable, for instance south africa, where the hunting areas are next to the national parks and are tiny. This essentially means the hunting areas simply lure animals onto their land and kill them, but do not have enough land to support a lion population of their own.

    I would love to see the end of hunting and in most places where it take place it is unacceptable. However, while the harvest of lions of the selous is 1% or less and this supports an area with over 1,000,000 other large animals it is the price that must be paid.

  4. Rosalba Adame-Leony
    Los Angeles, California
    August 18, 2011, 2:46 pm

    What are my grandchildren going to have of mother nature or wild life to love and admire when they grow up? so sooo sad.
    I want to help.

  5. Roberta Evans Newsome
    California, USA
    August 14, 2011, 12:40 pm

    We have a chance to share our knowledge of the precious resources that the earth is sharing with us humans. To be good stewards, to preserve the wonder for our children, and grand children, and great grandchildren we needs to save our “Lions, Tigers, Cheetahs, Leopards”, and many many more. Spread the word, support the cause, to save these beautiful creatures, by talking about it, buying support items, that broadcast the cause, donate funds and talents to support the cause. Al Gore helped spread awareness of clean air, or we shall perish. Bono with his band U2 and many others, has been championing the preservation of the Rain Forest, of South America. The life in the Rain Forest is giving the planet oxygen to breathe and many other living organims (like plants, animals, and insects) which are integral to our Ozone, and cycle of life, and weather. James Cameron made the mind blowing movie “Avatar” and then with life imitating art, the indigenous peoples of South America have asked him to be a spokesperson for them. Big business and industry in the Rain Forest is slowly destroying their homes, their lands, their animals, as well as their languages, cultures, and entire race with commercial genocide. To paraphrase Bob Geldof, “why do we as humans, have the ability to feed so many, to heal even more, yet we hoard the harvest, and over-price the cure and so many weaker, naive, persecuted, and innocent peoples die. How can we be still be called civilized humans, if we know this and continue to turn our face aside. Jacques Cousteau and his children have brought focus to the ocean, and the fact that all of its creatures have a right to be in it, not just for themselves, but their existence helps all the creatures on the surface survive. Even Steve Irwin was able to take a feared and hunted animal “the Crocodile” and shift our thinking toward, getting along with it and understanding it, until we found the good in the Croc and the good in us at the same time. Roberta

  6. Amjid ali khan
    August 8, 2011, 7:27 pm


  7. Sondra
    July 23, 2011, 9:34 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous, I am discussed that it has gotten to this point. Not only with lions but the other endangered and extinct spices as well. It’s a selfish crime. We need to fix this its geting way out of hand.

    July 1, 2011, 8:08 pm


  9. abhinav
    June 29, 2011, 1:20 pm

    lions are the big cats and ultimate boss of Africas dark forest
    but hearing of endangered word s like killin the people who are makin them extinct.
    but y are they doin so haaaaaan
    it dosent make out any sense

  10. Marco Amorim
    June 20, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Yes save those animals now!!!

  11. Sophia
    England, London
    June 16, 2011, 4:33 pm

    Lions have been my favourite animal since I was a small child, I would hate that in a few years they could be endangered, not only the lions but there are also very few tigers left in the wild. what is wrong with us humans, we take everything for the world and give nothing back, were not just responsible for millions of animals deaths, but for things like pollution and global warming (which if we don’t make a change about will eventually kill us all), ‘holes’ on the ozone layer, deforestation and so many more. It’s a shame that we are the species responsible for this.
    What can we do to help?

  12. Sherry Spies
    Perth Amboy,NJ,USA
    May 27, 2011, 10:26 am

    I’ve seen “the Last Lions” film and it is a beautiful put together film that should be played in more theatres. I had to drive one hour to the only city in New Jersey where it was playing. And in Manhatten,New York it was playing in only two theatres. I know all proceeds are going to The Big Cat Inititive, but the people of America need to be more informed. Hopefully with this petition we all will be. The Big Cats need our help its unfortunate that it took for them to be put on an endangered list to get it. God Bless All the Animals in the World.

  13. Sherry Spies
    Perth Amboy NJ, USA
    May 27, 2011, 10:06 am

    I’ve seen “The Last Lions” and it was a beautiful put together film. Being an American citizen i will tell u that we have to do more when it comes to saving these beautiful, majestic,powerful lions from exitiction. I know all proceeds from the film are supposed to go to ‘Big Cat Inititive’ but because it is a National Geographic film it only played in one city in all of New Jersey and two theatres in Manhatten, New York. These animals need our help and our government nneds to put the word out more so people knoe how endangered they’ve become.

  14. tish moruimang
    maun, botswana
    May 27, 2011, 2:26 am

    Big countries with major influence like the UK and the US must support major wildlife countries like Botswana to save the African Lion. Botswana has, by far, the highest concetration of lions and elephants in Africa, and wildlife concentration is increasing yearly, thanks to her efforts and commitment to wildlife welfare.

  15. badr
    May 16, 2011, 7:06 pm

    here in our country ,no wildlife care as will as the wholy numbers of speacies

  16. Matt
    , Colorado
    May 10, 2011, 6:10 am

    Anshu is correct. The Africans need to be as convinced to save the African Cats as we are. How about all that money from tourism being used to payback local farmers who lost livestock from Big Cat predation? This might keep local ranchers from shooting the cats. Trophy hunting is

  17. Steve
    Melbourne Florida
    May 9, 2011, 7:30 am

    It just shows how destructive and arrogant the human race is. As a civilization, we consume the natural resources and the result is the decline of the planet and speciecs that have just as much a right to life as Homo sapiens

  18. Anshu
    May 8, 2011, 12:17 pm

    Film Makers of this movie made any efforts to stop Lion hunting in South Africa? They just want to look good here in USA to make money. Are they ready to donate all their profits to stop Lion hunting in South Africa? I am ready to stop selling Lion meats in USA at http://www.Exoticmeatmarket.com.

  19. Anshu
    May 8, 2011, 10:49 am

    How it is going to help by making Lions endangered in USA? Africans need to find the solution. They need to make the laws to stop hunting Lions for Trophy. Here in USA we raise Lions to stop poaching them in Africa. US Farmers are raising Lions for money. To feed their family. It is just like raising Beef, Poultry and Pork.

  20. Amy
    brown st west
    May 3, 2011, 2:56 pm

    HELP THESE CREATURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. lauren
    April 18, 2011, 9:07 pm

    the human race is being stupid killing these animals. i watch a tv show on lions cheetahs and lepords and they are beutiful and magnificent and wild not some trophy to be won by some stupid hunter who thinks hes cool by killing a lion. Whats next??? i want to help.

  22. Mandla Mokoena
    April 17, 2011, 4:30 am

    Hie guys l would like to learn more about the animals can you please with the infornation

  23. katia
    April 17, 2011, 3:52 am

    Why are humans such a stupid race?We’ll never know but it’s time to stop the destruction of our beautiful planet.Everytime I watch a documentary or read an article about animals I hear the words “endangered,extinction,…”.We can no longer bear such a tragedy.

  24. Cortney
    Utah USA
    April 14, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Where’s the petition??? I’m getting on it right now!! I will literally cry for hours the minute the lion is listed as endangered. I was shocked to hear about the Last Lions the film b/c I love lions and I don’t want them to disappear!!
    I don’t want the lion to die!!!!

  25. Julie Newsome
    Los Angeles
    April 12, 2011, 2:34 pm

    How can we help?

  26. seven
    April 5, 2011, 3:03 pm

    What’s wrong with us Humans?? We destroy everything!!!! Greed, selfishness, short vue about everything, what else? To much is to much…. People have to understand when they destroy a species the Human race is also going down the drain.
    Are we such a stupid race???? Look everything around, the tsunamis,the volcanoes, the glaciers of the Poles, the bears,the petrol drilling links and the list goes on and on….
    So depressing!

  27. Frank Reigosa
    April 4, 2011, 3:27 pm

    First,sorry if my spelling is not good….
    I can’t believed that humans are allready reaching Mars and we can’t solve problems we have on this planet,i don’t understand why every day we have more humans and less animals…..Africa is the only country that have Lyons in the wild and they know very well that if they can have good income with turism but they need to learn how to do it well …they need to stop the killing of lyons……why do we(humans) have brains? it is supposed to be to used it for good not to destroit ….who gave us permission to abuse nature,to explote it…..God bless this planet…cause i don’t really know where we are going…….

  28. Nathalie
    South Africa
    April 3, 2011, 1:13 am

    Hi guys,

    I m French but i live in South Africa and i am a photographer, i do mostly wildlife and i have to say that i am becoming more and more upset at humans when i see how they behave when they enter a reserve… no respect whatsoever for the nature nor for the animals.. it really makes me sad when i see that those people don t even realize that they are lucky being able to visit and see such wonderful places and things…
    For the lions.. well it s my favourite cat and i m chocked when i learnt that in South Africa it is legal to breed lions so people can come and hunt them (hunter being behind a fence and the lion on the other side completely druged and helpless) and bring bck the trophy to wherever they live !!!
    Human race has no more shame !

  29. adrian small
    April 2, 2011, 4:31 am

    It is not only the Lions and Big cats that are becoming endangered, it is ALL The Animal Species. Somehow in this world of ours people,are very Greedy for money and Trophies. Now Honestly, What do the Governments Do to stop this,Slaughter. NOTHING. Some of these Animals have made these Countries World Famous , All because of these Beautiful creatures. It must be stopped NOW,or we will never be able to live in Peace on this Planet of ours.

  30. Joe Morris
    Tulsa, OK.
    April 2, 2011, 1:28 am

    We in the US call ourselves a Christian nation, then how can we set back and just let such magnificent animals disappear.

  31. tatiana
    March 31, 2011, 5:33 pm

    i love to joion with you guys

  32. Allaa
    Riyadh, Saudi arabia
    March 31, 2011, 9:00 am

    I am really saddened by the fact that a lot of Africa’s wild animals are decreasing and they must protect the last remaining animals …I get upset every time I imagine that in a couple of years all these animals might be gone….

  33. Sarah
    March 29, 2011, 1:49 pm

    The fact that a lot of big cat numbers are decreasing worldwide really upsets me. We need to act now; I’ll certainly be one of them.

  34. Kassidy
    March 29, 2011, 11:54 am

    Why kill them they only reason lions kill humans is because there scared we saw them and just decided that “Hey there big lets kill them” What ever happened to the phrase there more afraid of you then you are of them. I must say humanity has gotten so stupid. I’m ashamed to be human. I can’t believe how stupid humans are!!!!

  35. kathleen Mcguire
    March 28, 2011, 11:49 pm

    Why wait so long. The Lion is just as important as the Eagle. What is the matter with the human species?