The EU must immediately ban imports of hunted lions as trophies following the tragic killing of Zimbabwe's most famous lion, according to Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder.
Cecil the lion was found headless and skinned on the outskirts of Hwange National Park, allegedly after being shot by a hunter from the USA who had paid around 50,000 euros (£35,000) to kill the animal and bring home its hide as a trophy.
Under EU rules, importing lion hunting trophies is only supposed to be permitted from countries where hunting can be shown to be legal and sustainable. However it continues to be legal to import lion trophies from a handful of African countries including Zimbabwe, despite a lack of scientific data on the number of surviving lions there.
Catherine Bearder has tabled an urgent parliamentary question to the European Commission calling for lion trophy imports into the EU to be banned.
"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.
"In countries where there is no recent and independent data on lion populations, including Zimbabwe, imports of hunting trophies into Europe must be immediately banned.
"In the long-term, I want to see the EU follow the lead of Australia and ban all imports of lion hunting trophies to end this abhorrent practice."
Update: Following the news that the killer of Cecil the lion was a US citizen - I have written to the US Ambassador to the EU, calling on the USA to ban the import and export of lion hunting trophies.
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