Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
* By hard copy: U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R9-ES-2012-0025, Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
We will not accept comments by email or fax. We will post all comments on
When we make a finding that a petition presents substantial information indicating that listing a species may be warranted, we are required to promptly review the status of the species (conduct a status review). For the status review (also called a “12-month finding”) to be complete, and based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we request information on the African lion from governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested parties. We seek information on:
(1) The species' biology, range, and population trends, including:
(a) Habitat requirements for feeding, breeding, and sheltering;
(b) Genetics and taxonomy;
(c) Historical and current range, including distribution patterns;
(d) Historical and current population levels, and current and projected trends; and
(e) Past and ongoing conservation measures for the species and its habitat.
(2) The factors that are the basis for making a listing determination for a species under section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531
(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(c) Disease or predation;
(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; and
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
(3) Data that support or refute:
(a) Panmixia (having one, well-mixed breeding population), including evidence of genetic differentiation that may result in traits such as selective growth, sex ratios, increased vulnerability to threats, or habitat preferences;
(b) Existence of population structure to the degree that a threat could have differentiating effects on portions of the population and not on the whole species; and
(c) Statistically significant long-term African lion population declines.
(4) Information on the correlation between climate change and African lion population dynamics, including, but not limited to:
(a) Climate change predictions as they relate to drought, desertification, and African lion food availability, either directly or indirectly through changes in regional climate; and
(b) Quantitative research on the relationship of food availability to the survival of the species.
Please include sufficient information with your submission (such as scientific journal articles or other publications) to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. Submissions merely stating support for or opposition to the action under consideration without providing supporting information, although noted, will not be considered in making a determination. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the Act directs that determinations as to whether any species is an endangered or threatened species must be made “solely on the basis of the best scientific and commercial data available.”
You may submit your information concerning this status review by one of the methods listed in
Information and supporting documentation that we received and used in preparing this finding is available for you to review at
Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424 set forth the procedures for adding a species to, or removing a species from, the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species due to one or more of the five factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the Act:
(A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
(B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
(C) Disease or predation;
(D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
In making this 90-day finding, we evaluated whether information regarding threats to the African lion, as presented in the petition and other
Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires that we make a finding on whether a petition to list, delist, or reclassify a species presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted. We are to base this finding on information provided in the petition, supporting information submitted with the petition, and information otherwise available in our files. To the maximum extent practicable, we are to make this finding within 90 days of our receipt of the petition and publish our notice of the finding promptly in the
Our standard for substantial scientific or commercial information within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) with regard to a 90-day petition finding is “that amount of information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the measure proposed in the petition may be warranted” (50 CFR 424.14(b)). If we find that substantial scientific or commercial information was presented, we are required to promptly initiate a species status review, which we subsequently summarize in our 12-month finding.
On March 1, 2011, we received a petition dated March 1, 2011, from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, the Born Free Foundation/Born Free USA, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Fund for Animals, requesting that the African lion subspecies be listed as endangered under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as such, and included the requisite identification information, as required by 50 CFR 424.14(a). We acknowledged receipt of the petition in a letter to Mr. Jeff Flocken dated July 17, 2011. This finding addresses the petition.
Although the Asiatic lion (
The African lion belongs to the class Mammalia in the family Felidae. There are two recognized subspecies of lion: Asiatic lion (
The African lion subspecies is a habitat generalist, which historically excluded it only from areas such as rainforest and the arid interior of the Sahara (Ray
Lions are sexually dimorphic (differences in size, coloration, or body structure between the sexes); males weigh between 20 and 27 percent more than females (Petition, p. 17). Adult males have been recorded to weigh an average of 181 kilograms (kg) (399 pounds), and adult females were observed to weigh an average of 126 kg (278 pounds) (Smuts 1976 in Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 17). Researchers observed females eating an average of 8.7 kg (19.2 pounds) per day during the dry season, and 14 kg (31 pounds) per day in the wet season (Haas
Lions have no fixed breeding season, and they give birth to between 1 and 4 cubs (Petition, p. 17). Females may give birth beginning at 4 years of age (Petition, p. 17), and female reproduction begins to decline between 11 and 15 years of age (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 19). Often the females in the pride give birth at the same time, which may add to the reproductive success of the pride as a whole (Nowell and Jackson 1996, p. 18). Each pride requires a home range of between 20 and 500 square kilometers (km
The most quantitative estimate of the historic size of the African lion population resulted from a modeling exercise by Bauer
Various researchers and entities, such as the African Lion Working Group (ALWG), describe groups of lions as being organized into subpopulations, and the degree to which these groups interbreed is unclear (Bauer and Van Der Merwe 2004, pp. 27-30). In research conducted by Chardonnet
Researchers believe that the African lion now occupies a range of less than 4,500,000 km
The petitioners indicate that since 2002, several African lion populations that have been studied have either declined or disappeared altogether (Henschel
The petition indicates that in the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the IUCN classified the African lion as “Vulnerable” with a declining population trend, which means it is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild (Bauer
The African lion is listed in Appendix II of CITES. CITES is a multinational agreement through which countries work together to ensure that international trade in CITES-listed species is legal and not detrimental to the survival of the species. There are currently 175 CITES Parties (CITES signatory countries), including the United States. To ensure sustainable use, Parties regulate and monitor international trade in CITES-listed species—that is, their import, export, and re-export—through a system of permits and certificates. CITES lists species in one of three appendices—Appendix I, II, or III. Species such as the African lion that are listed in Appendix II of CITES may be commercially traded. CITES Appendix II includes species that “although not necessarily now threatened with extinction may become so, unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.” The status of the African lion with respect to CITES and how it is affected by trade is discussed below under the Evaluation of Factors section.
Although we are not considering this information in this 90-day finding in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, the African lion is currently under a periodic review of the CITES Appendices being conducted by the CITES Animals Committee, led by two range countries for the African lion, Kenya and Namibia. This periodic review is based on a recommendation by a Working Group at the 25th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee (AC25) held in July 2011, which recommended that the African lion be considered for inclusion in the Periodic Review of
The petition (p. 7) asserts that the African lion now occupies less than an estimated 4,500,000 km
The petitioner states that the loss of habitat and corresponding loss of prey are serious threats to the survival of the African lion (Ray
The 2005 WCS study found that most lion populations in protected areas of East and southern Africa have been essentially stable over the last three
The petition asserts that the African lion is overutilized to a great extent for trophy hunting (Petition, pp. 22-23; Packer
In addition to the trade described above, the petition (pp. 24-25) indicates that, between 1999 and 2008, 3,102 lion specimens, equivalent to likely at least 1,328 lions (which includes trophies, skins, live animals, and bodies), were traded internationally via CITES permits for commercial purposes (Petition, Appendix A).
The petition reports that, for commercial purposes, the most common lion specimens traded were claws (number = 764), trophies (508), skins (442), live animals (3,208), skulls (144), and bodies (58). The petition also indicates that, of this trade, 1,846 lion specimens were imported into the United States, and suggests this may be equivalent to at least 401 lions. The petition notes that other significant importers other than the United States were South Africa, Spain, France, and Germany (Petition, p. 23). The petition also notes that the primary exporting countries of lion parts for commercial purposes were Zimbabwe (914 specimens), South Africa (867), and Botswana (816) (Petition, Appendix A). The petition concludes that these three countries accounted for 83.7 percent of all specimens in commercial trade (Petition, pp. 24-25, Table A9).
Hunting of lions for trophies does occur regularly and provides revenue for many countries in the African lion's range. This practice allows for conservation measures to be implemented for this subspecies. Some countries have implemented measures to mitigate the decrease in lion population numbers based on the effects of trophy hunting on African lion populations (Packer
In addition to the removal of lions from the population due to trophy hunting, there is concern that the use of lion body parts is contributing to the decline in African lion populations. Lion bones are being exported to Asia for use in traditional Chinese medicine, in part as a replacement for tiger parts, which have been more strictly regulated within the recent past (Nowell and Ling 2007, pp. 30-32). Body parts from the African lion are also used for traditional purposes in Africa as well as in Asia. For example, body parts of lions, including fat, skin, organs, and hair, are highly valued for treatment of a variety of different ailments in Nigeria, with lion fat being the most highly valued (Morris undated [n.d.], pp. 1-2). A household questionnaire distributed in rural communities within the range of the African lion found that 62 percent of respondents reported using lion fat in medicine, with just over half of those respondents reporting to have used it in the last 3 years (Morris, n.d., p. 6). The putative medicinal benefits are the healing of fractured and broken bones, and the alleviation of back pain and rheumatism (Morris, n.d., pp. 5-7). The petition claims that, in some African countries such as Guinea-Bissau and parts of Guinea, hunting African lions for their skins for use in traditional ceremonies is considered to be the primary threat to lions, and cited Brugiere
In summary, we find that the information presented in the petition and in our files indicates that overutilization may be occurring with respect to the African lion.
The petition (p. 9) states that diseases such as canine distemper virus (CDV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and bovine tuberculosis are viewed by experts as threats to the African lion (Roelke
Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a disease believed to have been caused by the importation of cattle from Europe (Michel
Given the high level of mortality due to diseases that occur in African lions, particularly newly introduced diseases and the potential pathways for exposure, we find that the information provided in the petition indicates that the African lion may be impacted by disease.
The petition does not present information to indicate that listing the African lion may be warranted due to predation, nor do we have information in our files suggesting that predation to African lions impacts the subspecies, although infanticide is discussed under Factor E, below.
The petition asserts that there are several existing regulatory mechanisms that are inadequate with respect to the African lion (Petition, pp. 45-53). Some of the regulatory mechanisms cited by the petitioners as being inadequate include: The Rotterdam Convention; the African Union Conventions (Petition, pp. 47-48); the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement; the Lusaka Agreement; the U.S. Endangered Species Act (Act); the U.S. Lacey Act (Petition, pp. 49-50); the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); and domestic laws within the African lion's range countries (Petition, pp. 51-52). Some of the impacts that may occur due to inadequate existing regulatory mechanisms are discussed in the other factors, such as the loss of habitat (Factor A), overutilization for the international wildlife trade (Factor B), and effects of inappropriate use of pesticides (Factor E) (Petition, p. 7). Due to the numerous regulatory mechanisms involved, in part because the African lion's range spans approximately 30 countries, we will not evaluate this factor in depth at this 90-day finding stage. We acknowledge that information regarding this factor was submitted with the petition. Based on the interrelationship between regulatory mechanisms and the other factors, we find that the information provided in the petition and in our files indicates that existing regulatory mechanisms may be inadequate in reducing or removing effects associated with certain factors identified in the Petition.
The petition asserts that a secondary, related effect of removing lions through trophy hunting on the African lion occurs due to the behavior of infanticide by adult male lions (Petition, pp. 23-24; Davidson
Retaliatory killing, even with respect to other predatory species, affects lions (Petition, p. 53). Killing of lions because the lions kill livestock has been indicated to be the most serious threat to these large carnivores (Chardonnet
The petition indicates that the African lion is increasingly restricted to small and disconnected populations, which may increase the threat of inbreeding (Petition, p. 54). The petition claims that large lion populations with 50 to 100 prides are necessary to avoid the negative consequences of inbreeding and cites Bjorklund 2003, pp. 515-523. The petition avers that population connectivity is essential in order to allow males to travel to other areas in order to preserve genetic variation. The petition suggests that the lions in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, may be inbred, and subsequently their vulnerability to disease may be increased. Compared with many other mammal species, the population resilience of the lion is high (Chardonnet
The information contained in the petition and in our files indicates that there are several other natural or manmade factors such as human-lion conflict and infanticide by African lions that may result in negative impacts on the African lion.
On the basis of our review under section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act, we determine that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the African lion as endangered throughout its range may be warranted. This finding is based on information provided under the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range (Factor A); overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes (Factor B); disease (Factor C); the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D); and other natural or manmade factors affecting the subspecies' continued existence (Factor E). The petition does not present substantial information to indicate that listing the African lion may be warranted due to predation, nor do we have information in our files suggesting that predation to African lions impacts the subspecies. The African lion's range spans approximately 30 countries and the factors affecting this species are complex and interrelated. The petition asserts that the subspecies no longer exists in 78 percent of its historic distribution (Bauer
The “substantial information” standard for a 90-day finding differs from the Act's “best scientific and commercial data” standard that applies to a status review to determine whether a petitioned action is warranted. A 90-day finding does not constitute a status review under the Act. In a 12-month finding, we will determine whether a petitioned action is warranted after we have completed a thorough status review of the species, which is conducted following a substantial 90-day finding. Because the Act's standards for 90-day and 12-month findings are different, as described above, a substantial 90-day finding does not mean that the 12-month finding will result in a warranted finding.
A complete list of all references cited in this 90-day finding is available on the Internet at
The primary author of this finding is Amy Brisendine, Branch of Foreign Species, Endangered Species Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531