The public uproar over the senseless slaughter of Cecil the lion last August has only been amplified by the recent MSNBC world premiere of Blood Lions.As disturbing as it was to learn that 6,000 lions are being bred on South African farms to facilitate daily “canned hunts,” this is just an extreme example of a more endemic problem.
Africa is fighting a losing battle to protect the “Big Three” of its endangered species — lions, elephants and rhinoceros. While wildlife conservationists have called for a moratorium on big-game trophy hunting, most African nations still allow it. More importantly, illegal wildlife poaching has reached a crisis point: It has been estimated that one elephant is killed for its tusks every 15 minutes, which means that 96 are killed every day.
The African elephant population is now below 400,000. Of the 400,000 lions that roamed the continent’s grassy plains in the 1950s, only 15,000 are left with more than a third bred in captivity. Today, the number of rhinos is below 24,000 with 1,200 rhinos poached and killed each year.
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