CITES loophole allows importation of animal trophies

There is a loophole in the international agreement which is called CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). CITES is intended to be a global agreement among governments to regulate and stop international, commercial trade of animals and animal parts.

Lion head trophy
Lion head trophy. Photo in public domain.
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In my honest opinion, it is very weakly enforced anyway and therefore has limited value because international trade in animals and animal parts is worth billions of dollars annually. Perhaps by its nature it is impossible to enforce it. It relies on goodwill. You can’t rely on it.

But this article is not about that. It’s about the fact that animal trophies taken by trophy hunters do not fall within the ambit of this international agreement because their transportation into the country of the hunter is deemed to be “non-commercial” trade.

This is a loophole in the rules. An example is the trophies of 28 scimitar-horned oryx, which were allowed into Britain over the past 10 years by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), in the UK despite the fact that they were declared extinct in the wild in 2000 due to habitat loss and hunting but are reared on hunting ranches. In other words this oryx is extremely endangered, almost extinct but trophy hunters are still allowed to shoot and import the trophies into their country of origin. Trade in parts of the antelope is banned by CITES but it doesn’t cover trophies.

Fifty members of the European Parliament including members of the UK Parliament have written to the head of CITES, urging her to close this loophole at its conference in Geneva.

The exemption concerning trophies may be used as a cover to sell the body parts of endangered animals. Between 2004 and 2014 around 2,500 sport hunting trophies of endangered species were imported into Britain inluding lions from Afria.

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