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US trophy hunters killing African lions

American hunters are emerging as a strong and growing threat to the survival of African lions, with demand for trophy rugs and necklaces driving the animals towards extinction, a coalition of wildlife organisations has said. Suzanne Goldenberg writes.

world Updated: Mar 02, 2011 23:47 IST

American hunters are emerging as a strong and growing threat to the survival of African lions, with demand for trophy rugs and necklaces driving the animals towards extinction, a coalition of wildlife organisations has said.

Demand for hunting trophies, such as lion skin rugs, and a thriving trade in animal parts in the US and across the globe have raised the threat levels for African lions, which are already under assault because of conflicts with local villagers and shrinking habitat.

“The African lion is a species in crisis,” said Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “The king of the jungle is heading toward extinction, and yet Americans continue to kill lions for sport.”

Two-thirds of the lions hunted for sport were brought to America over the last 10 years, a report released by the coalition said.

The number of wild African lions has fallen sharply in the last 100 years, the organisations said. A century ago, as many as 200,000 roamed across Africa. Now, by some estimates, fewer than 40,000 remain in the wild; others put the figure for survivors at 23,000.

Lions have become extinct in 26 countries. Only seven countries — Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe — are believed to contain more than 1,000 lions each, according to the Panthera conservation group. GNS