Contact: Tanya Sanerib, (503) 544-8512, firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa— Countries from around the world today banned all commercial trade in wild African lion bones and parts in response to growing evidence that lion parts are increasingly being substituted for rare tiger parts in Asian markets. The huge demand for these tiger products is fueling illegal trade in lion parts. In protecting African lions domestically last year, the United States recognized the “considerable potential for extensive poaching of wild lions to occur in order to meet demand.”
Today’s decision was agreed to by countries that are party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a treaty that protects imperiled wildlife and plants affected by trade. A ban already exists on commercial trade in Asiatic lions and their parts.
“The ban on trading wild African lion bones is an important first step to protecting these regal animals from the harmful effects of commercial and illegal trade,” said Tanya Sanerib, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “At a time when we are fighting tooth and nail to save tigers from extinction, we can’t turn a blind eye to the lion parts trade, which is fueling further demand for big-cat products in Asia.”
South Africa breeds lions in captivity primarily for “canned” trophy hunting, but the skeletons and bones not used as trophies are increasingly being sold commercially to Asia. To combat this development, nations also agreed South Africa must create a quota for this trade and report it to the Convention. And the nations passed a suite of decisions calling for further study of lions, which now exist in only 8 percent of their former range.
“Worldwide scrutiny on the growing lion bone trade will help ensure that these beautiful and important cats persist into the future,” said Sanerib.