WASHINGTON D.C. (AUGUST 8, 2013) – To generate awareness for the plight of the African lion and the distinct possibility that the species could disappear from the wild within our lifetime, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) joins wildlife groups around the globe in celebrating the inaugural World Lion Day 2013 on Saturday, August 10. World Lion Day is the first global campaign of its kind to impress the biological, cultural and economic importance of the lion and the urgent need to protect the species.
While the popular imagination holds the lion as a symbol of courage and power, African lion populations are plummeting due to a number of factors including loss of habitat, human-wildlife conflict, and trophy hunting. The number of African lions has declined by more than 50 percent in the past three decades. The most recent evidence shows that as few as 32,000 lions are left in the wild, and many experts believe there to be far fewer.
IFAW views trophy hunting as a particularly pernicious—and needless—threat to African lion populations. Trophy hunting targets the healthiest members of the lion population and creates unsustainable pressures on the species. Approximately 600 lions are killed every year in trophy hunts and approximately 60 percent of all lions killed for sport in Africa are imported to the United States as trophies.
To help alleviate the threat of hunting on the species, IFAW, along with a coalition of other wildlife groups, petitioned the U.S. government in 2011 to list African lions as an Endangered Species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
“World Lion Day 2013 is an important opportunity to stress African lions’ dire situation, and expose the unnecessary threat trophy hunting poses,” said Jeff Flocken, North America Regional Director, IFAW. “Classifying the African lion as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act would send a message that this magnificent but imperiled animal is dying for sport at the hands of wealthy Americans, and the U.S. government will no longer add this to the many threats lions already face.”
Currently, lions are the only great cat not protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Safeguarding the future of the African lion would not only conserve a beloved species, but it would also work to preserve a vital sector of Africa’s tourism economy. The lion’s symbolic significance translates to real-world economics. A study commissioned by IFAW found that African countries and rural communities derive very little benefit from trophy hunting revenue. By depleting the beloved species, trophy hunters jeopardize non-consumptive nature tourism, such as wildlife viewing and photo safaris. These non-consumptive nature tourism activities contribute much more to African economies than trophy hunting.
As a portion of any national economy, trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting – an insignificant amount, especially when you consider that local communities receive a mere 3 percent of overall trophy hunting revenues.
To learn more about World Lion Day, visit http://worldlionday.com/the-campaign/. For more information about IFAW’s campaign to list the African Lion as an endangered species, visit
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.