POLL: Should there be a ban on importing lion trophies?

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Conservationists and politicians have called on the EU to ban the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies from African countries that cannot prove their lion populations are sustainable.

The slaughter of a radio-tagged lion called Cecil in Hwange national park by the American dentist, Walter Palmer, was described as a tragedy by wildlife groups and has led Zimbabwean authorities to attempt to have the hunter extradited.

But the lion, whose head and skin were removed, is only one of about 200 such lion ‘trophies’ that hunters legally import to the EU each year. Germany, France and Spain are the biggest importers.

A lion in the Hwange national park, Zimbabwe. Hunters have been able to kill lions with impunity with scant regards to sustainability of the population. Photograph: Christopher Scott/Alamy

In February, scientific advisers to the EU banned imports from Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroon for the first time, on the grounds that their wild lion populations were not sustainable.

Lions were classed as vulnerable on the latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species, and critically endangered in western Africa due to over-hunting and a scarcity of prey.

MEPs said the Cecil incident showed that if hunters were desperate enough to lure lions out of national parks with bait rather than killing them in areas with a hunting quota, lion populations in Zimbabwe were clearly not sustainable.

They said the EU’s import ban should be extended to any African countries without independent, scientific data to show that lion hunting is sustainable.

Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat MEP who on Monday submitted a written question to the European Commission on the issue, said: “The shooting of Cecil the lion was tragic and cruel, but it has at least shone a spotlight on the absurdity of the current situation. Despite the number of lions across Africa plummeting in recent years, hunters are still allowed to import lion hunting trophies into the EU from several African countries.”

Keith Taylor, Green party MEP for south-east England, said he supported Bearder’s call for action.

“It’s outrageous that lions are being killed just so someone in Europe can decorate their home with the body parts. The European commission must immediately impose an EU ban on all imports of lion body parts,” he said.

A group of experts known as the Scientific Review Group (SRG) makes decisions on whether countries should be blacklisted or not. Zimbabwe – along with Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa – is listed as ‘positive’, ie with a sustainable enough population of lions to accommodate hunting.

A trophy display at a taxidermy workshop in Namibia where Hunters from Europe and North America take their ‘kills’ to stuff them. Photograph: Ton Koene/Alamy

Dr Peter Kat, a trustee at the UK-based charity Lion aid, said without the SRG having access to more data, there should be a temporary ban.


“What we need is independent lion counts in various countries where we are now allowing imports. Until and unless those counts are produced, then there is a moratorium. At the moment, it’s ‘show us that it is unsustainable’ [a country’s lion population for hunting]. Now we need the reverse: show us that it is sustainable.”

Both Bearder and Kat said that when the SRG meets in September, it should ban imports from Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association confirmed on its Facebook page that it had suspended the membership of one of the professional guides who had assisted the hunter.

Cecil was a 13-year-old lion with a distinctive black mane, and was reportedly lured out of the national park with bait earlier this month, before being killed with a bow and arrow and rifle, before being skinned and beheaded. Kat said that such baiting was legal in Zimbabwe, even on the edge of a national park, but it appeared the hunter had broken the law by killing the lion in an area without a hunting quota.

CNN reported that the lion’s head and skin have subsequently been found and would be used as evidence.

This article was  first published by The Guardian on 27 Jul 2015.

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Vibeke Hansen

all kill shall stop on poor animal, basta–i baaaaaaaaaan ittttttttttttttttt

Josef Michael Darthé

ANY hunting should be forbidden. Animals are living creatures that ought to have the SAME rights of LIVING as human beings.

Sherry Armstrong-Wilkinson

The wildlife on earth must be protected from extinction. The countries that are privileged to host some of the world's most stunning wildlife within their boundaries are frequently poor and thus any foreign currency that comes into their coffers is a real inducement to allow these "trophy hunters" access to murder these innocent animals. The world must act with one clear ethical voice – TROPHY HUNTING IS BANNED (and if I had my way, anyone guilty of violating the law would be hanged).

Dianna Vandenberg

voted and shared

Dianna Vandenberg

This affects everyone,and generations to follow.

Liora G. Davis

Absolutely, canned hunting should be banned, all trophy hunting should be banned. Lions, elephants, rhinos, tigers, etc.

Nancy O

voted

Jariya Rasa

Lions should be strictly protected in their natural habitats.For every hunter who is willing to pay 50,0004 just to pull the trigger and kill these animal just to boast his or her ego and tell oh thats the Lion I shot in Zimbabwe there many more people who will spend their money to see this lion in the wild. Killing Cecil will also mean the death to his cubs in his pride as a new lion taking over the pride will certainly kill the cubs .

Paula Rock

There should be a ban on ALL wildlife trophies in the US and for that matter, the world. These creatures were not put on this earth for the whims of man.

Diane Drewisch-Johnson

As a nurse, I am on this Earth to saves lives…..I just can't understand you would want to KILL a Beautiful living thing and watch it go through the dying process….Knowing you are the ONE that took its Life…..You like to Murder things and I just don't get it….And I never will….:0(

Michele Hodge

Well the votes say it all, stop this atrocious act NOW, stop this hunting wild animals and evolve, we don't live in the dark cave man ages anymore, go and take your anger and fun somewhere else !!

Robert Powell

these 'trophy hunters' are just cowards who take pot shots at wild animals, sometimes (like cecil) leaving them in agony for hours even days. How I wish these morons could have a taste of their own medeicine…

Patty Botana Escalera

Just as it is against the law to kill Humans, It should be against the law to kill all Animals.

Linda French

Ban trophy hunting, get rid of the hunters, disgusting human beings.

Catherine Land Emond

The only way any animal should be shot, is with a camera!!

Marilyn Whitney

there is nothing wonderful in the death of another being. no animal trophies

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

thereis no glory nor any trophy to be had, from slaughtering an innocent animal.

human cruel and stupid knows now bounds!!!

Beth Carr

signed