The last time I wrote about the trophy hunting of African lions was when I discussed Cecil, the famous Zimbabwean lion, who was shot with a bow and arrow by the infamous dentist Walter Palmer1. The world knew about this and the world was sick of it except for the damned trophy hunters of which there are many in America.
It may surprise people to know that between 2005 and 2014, more than 1.2 million trophies of over 1,200 different species of animal were imported into America. American hunters have killed 5,552 African lions over the past 10 years and imported parts of their bodies into America as trophies. In 2014, 727 lion body parts were imported into America as trophies. These are depressing statistics to people who love animals.
And now for the good news. Well before Cecil was slaughtered for pleasure by that ridiculous dentist Walter Palmer, the federal government of America had been debating a law which makes it obligatory that anyone wanting to import lion parts first has to get a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service (“the service”). The law came into effect yesterday 22nd Jan 2016. The service will only grant a licence under exceptional circumstances and only when the killing enhances the survival of wild lions. It is hard to imagine when those circumstances might arise and therefore the law is, thankfully, very restrictive.
It is expected that this long-awaited law will result in a dramatic reduction in the killing of lions in Africa by American trophy hunters. In addition it should end, at a stroke, canned hunting of lions in South Africa. There are many canned lion hunts in South Africa which, as you may be aware, is the shooting of lions in enclosures so that the cowardly hunter can take a body part back to America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service have stated that under no circumstances can canned lion hunting be deemed to be beneficial to the survival of the lion and therefore killing a lion in an enclosure in South Africa for a trophy will never be permitted if the American who does it wants to bring the trophy back to America. Ninety percent of canned lion2 hunters are Americans.
Of course trophy hunting will still go on in America and elsewhere as it is promoted by organisations such as the Safari Club International. In February the Safari Club International annual convention in Las Vegas raises $14.7 million through auctioning off hundreds of hunts. Polar bear trophies can still be imported into the United States. And Americans can still trophy hunt hundreds of wolves in the great Lakes region and Wyoming. It will take many generations before trophy hunting will be no more which is a depressing thought for anybody who cares about the welfare of animals.
Source: Wayne Pacelle’s blog. Wayne is the President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.
Note 1: Cecil was not killed initially by Palmer’s arrow but killed later after being injured. It is not clear whether he was shot with a gun or if a bow and arrow was used again.
Note 2: In South Africa.