Odd as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. The millions of dollars that hunters spend to go on safari here each year help finance the game reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation efforts in our rapidly growing country.
This is why we are alarmed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is considering listing the African lion as endangered. Doing so would make it illegal for American hunters to bring their trophies home. Those hunters constitute 60 percent of our trophy-hunting market, and losing them would be disastrous to our conservation efforts.
In 2011, five animal-rights and environmentalist groups petitioned USFWS to list the African lion as endangered, arguing that the population had fallen dangerously low because of habitat loss, poaching, commercial hunting, and new diseases associated with human encroachment. “The U.S.,” the petition said, “is by far the largest importer of hunting trophies from Tanzania.”