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Letter to the US Ambassador to the EU: Ban the import of lion hunting trophies

Following the news that the killer of Cecil the lion was a US citizen - I am calling on both the EU and the USA to ban the import and export of lion hunting trophies.

The EU and USA should take our lead from Australia, which earlier this year banned the import and export of lion hunting trophies in an attempt to reduce organised hunting of Africa’s wildlife.

Dear Ambassador Gardner,

I have been working in the European Parliament on biodiversity loss and wildlife crime, and like many I was disturbed by the hunting down and tragic killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by a US citizen.  But this incident has highlighted what we have known for some time now: that trophy hunting in many parts of Africa, even when legally undertaken, is draining protected areas of their most valuable and iconic species. Appropriate action must now be taken to prevent this from happening.

Hunting lodges surround protected parks and are known to bait or chase animals across from protected areas in order to satisfy the demands of hunters, who pay very large amounts of money to shoot these animals.

It has been estimated that there are now fewer than 30.000 lions in Africa, down from an estimated 200,000 in the 1930s. Meaning there are now fewer lions in the wilds of Africa than there are black taxi cabs in London. They are facing increasing pressure from human population growth, but hunting is also taking a terrible toll on lion numbers.  We need concerted and coordinated action now to protect this magnificent species and we should start by banning the import and export of lion hunting trophies in both Europe and the USA.

The EU and USA should take our lead from Australia, which earlier this year banned the import and export of lion hunting trophies in an attempt to reduce organised hunting of Africa’s wildlife.

Hunting trophies count as personal possessions and thus have a derogation under CITES regulations and EU law. As a result, while the EU has already banned lion hunting trophies from a number of African countries, imports continue to be allowed from a handful of countries including Zimbabwe, despite there being a lack of evidence that current hunting levels are sustainable.

I am now calling on the EU Commission to implement a complete ban on hunting trophy imports from endangered species and have had huge support in this endeavour. I implore the USA to also follow suit and call for a complete ban on lion hunting trophies.  Only by acting together will we be able to assist those working in their countries to protect lions by removing the demand for trophies. This way substantial sums of money will carry on being made from photographic tourism which can go directly towards the conservation and not the obliteration of animals.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Bearder MEP

If you agree that the new European Commission should put the fight against wildlife crime at the top of the political agenda, please sign my petition.


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