After the tragic death of Cecil the lion at the hands of an American dentist earlier this year, the Endangered Species Act gets and upgrade regarding covered targets, looking to include African lions under the US’ protection. Other species as well are considered to be included in the act, taking into account their dwindling numbers as well as the increased threats posed by climate change and extensive human development in previously wild regions.
Even if Cecil’s death was the event that sparked the increase in anger towards big-game African hunting, this is not the main factor which leads to a massive decrease in lion population numbers. Lion’s natural habitat has been growing smaller and smaller over the years due to deforestation. Their prey has also suffered from lower numbers, eventually leading to a lack of lion food, forcing them to attack human farmlands possessing livestock. This lion-human conflict has taken its toll on lion population to a great extent, farmers sometimes being forced to slaughter entire prides in order to circumvent the threat of losing their cattle farms.
The import of lion trophies in the US will also be discontinued, mainly due to the fact that the two lion species newly covered are one of the most cherished hunting trophies of their kind. The enhanced quality of the trophy stems from the hardships encountered when hunting said animal, with the lion being extremely agile and fast, as well as much more unpredictable when compared to other lions.
But the new improvements added to the act are not completely beneficial. A Californian environmental activist group is currently making plans to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service in the US due to their delay towards including the foothill yellow-bellied frog under the endangered species label.
The frog was to be included since its numbers faced a major drop back in 2012, but no movements towards making the species endangered were seen up to this day. Even if the FWS agreed that the frog was endangered earlier this year, it hasn’t been able to include the frog on the endangered list or even change its review status.
The yellow-bellied frog lives in shallow streams across Oregon and California. But extensive dam construction and logging have narrowed down its habitat. Marijuana cultivation and livestock grazing have also had an impact on the frog’s population numbers. The threats do not stop here, as diseases, newly introduced species, climate change and pollution have all made the frog almost go extinct by this point in time.
Although the Endangered Species Act gets an upgrade regarding covered targets, if it will not include the yellow-bellied frog, an extensive lawsuit will be aimed at the FWS. The activists hope that by including the frog in the endangered species list and eliminating some of the threats aimed at the yellow-bellied frog, their numbers will somewhat rise to higher levels. If steps aren’t made towards solving this problem, the frog will be officially extinct in the next couple of years, unfortunately.