Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder has strongly criticised an EU decision to continue to allow the import of lion hunting trophies from Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique which was made public this week.
The decision took place at a meeting of the EU's Scientific Review group, where representatives from each EU country decide on whether hunting trophy imports from different countries are sustainable, which took place on 15th September.
It comes just a month after a report by the UN Environment Programme showing that lion numbers have plummeted in Tanzania and Zambia and that trophy hunting has contributed significantly to population declines.
The Tanzanian and Zambian government claim trophy hunting can contribute to wildlife conservation if properly managed, yet have failed to provide evidence that the practice is sustainable or provide accurate and independent population counts.
Catherine Bearder commented:
"After the tragic killing of Cecil the lion there was a real global momentum behind ending the unsustainable hunting of this majestic animal. Yet this week's decision shows that the status quo prevails.
"The arguments in favour of trophy hunting do not stack up: you cannot help preserve lions by shooting them. In the long-term, far more money will be made through safari tourism and ensuring this species survives for future generations.
"I am urging the EU's Scientific Review Group to reconsider this move at its next meeting in December and ensure decisions are made on the basis of scientific evidence, not political pressure."
Co-Founder of LionAid Dr Pieter Kat commented:
"LionAid visited Brussels before the SRG meeting (of the 15th September) to discuss the sustainability of lion trophy imports from Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. We again provided much scientific evidence to demonstrate that lion populations are in catastrophic and continuous decline in all lion range states.
"It is disappointing that it appears from the outcome that political agendas superseded scientific evidence. We are seeking an urgent meeting with the EU Commission to determine on what justifiable grounds these decisions were made, and to strongly urge that the December SRG meeting reconsiders their conclusions. "