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Two African Lion Subspecies Added To Endangered Species Act

Update Date: Dec 23, 2015 03:15 PM EST

Two subspecies of the African lion, Panthera leo, are now part of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, announced  the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service .

The first subspecies is P. l. Leo. It will be in the endangered list as it is believed to be almost extinct in the western and central parts of Africa. Currently, there are just 1,400 of the species that are "loosely scattered across other countries", according to HNGN.

The second subspecies is P. p. melanochaita. It lives in eastern and southern Africa. It is now categorised as "threatened", as just about 17,000 to 19,000 of this species are out in the world.

The dangers to African lions include "depletion of prey, habitat loss and murders in retaliation to livestock depletions" as well as being hunted for sport. Including lions in the endangered species list may help to solve the problem, although it will not lead to banning the hunt if they are allowed in the host countries. However, it will not permit the import of trophies into the U.S., says The Washington Post.

"I am pleased," said Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a green organisation that focuses on the conservation of lions. "I think they have used, clearly, a fair amount of science in the decision, and as I understand it, it is a significant improvement on their first proposal."

Adding the two subspecies to the list will help to improve the situation.

"Many have challenged the hunting industry to show some figures to support their claim that the revenues from lion hunting support lion conservation, but the industry has been notoriously opaque and has long resisted calls for reform," Hans Bauer, a lion expert at Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, said. "This must now change."

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