African lions are in need of protection, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said Monday, as loss of habitat and prey, and overhunting are putting the species in danger of extinction.
"Following a review of the best available scientific information, the US Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed listing the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act," the FWS said in a statement.
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"The agency's analysis found that lions are in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future."
Such protection would allow US authorities to toughen enforcement and monitoring of imports and
international trade of these animals, which are hunted for sport, and would help raise awareness of
While these majestic creatures still roam around their native Africa, the majority of the population has dwindled to 10 major strongholds. They are traditionally seen as "kings of the jungle," but African lions are quickly losing their reign. Prides once roamed most of Africa and parts of Asia and Europe, but National Geographic says that today they are found only in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
The FWS decision comes after a 2011 petition from a coalition of organizations requesting the African lion be listed as endangered.
A 90-day comment period, ending in January 2015, will allow the public to weigh in on the proposed rule.
"It is up to all of us, not just the people of Africa, to ensure that healthy, wild populations continue
to roam the savannah for generations to come," FWS Director Dan Ashe said in the statement.