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For Immediate Release: 06/02/11

Initial Deadline to Protect African Lions Missed

Wednesday, June 1, 2011, marked the passing of the 90-day deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make its initial response to a petition seeking protection for African lions under the Endangered Species Act. The petition was filed on March 1 by a coalition of wildlife groups including Born Free USA/Born Free Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).

“Over the past two decades, the number of African lions has declined by nearly 50 percent. Today, fewer than 40,000 lions remain in just a few countries with only a third of those lions living in viable, protected populations,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president for Born Free USA. “We urge the U.S. to take action before it’s too late to save this iconic species.”

“While we recognize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lacks the resources it needs to process listing petitions in a timely fashion, African lions cannot afford to wait indefinitely,” said Bob Irvin, senior vice president for Defenders of Wildlife. “The ongoing threats to their survival are very serious and deserve immediate attention.”

“The Endangered Species Act is the most comprehensive legislation we have for protecting these magnificent creatures from unsustainable trophy hunting by Americans who import over half of all sport-hunted lion trophies,” said Jeff Flocken, Washington, D.C,., office director for IFAW.

The government had 90 days from the time the petition was filed to make an initial assessment as to whether an endangered listing under the ESA may be warranted.

For more information, visit www.saveafricanlions.org.

About Born Free USA
Born Free USA is a recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and education, Born Free USA leads campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the mission of the United-Kingdom based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free”: to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation. (bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; facebook.com/bornfreeusa.)

About Defenders of Wildlife
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

About the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) 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. Photos and video available at www.ifawimages.com.

For more information, call Rodi Rosensweig at (203) 270-8929 or e-mail her at publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org.

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