(ANIMAL NEWS/WILDLIFE POACHING) Last week, in a move several years in the making, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled to list African lions as threatened or endangered. This new protection under the Endangered Species Act will specifically address trophy hunts, like the one that killed Cecil the lion last July.
As new data shows, American hunters account for up to 85 percent of canned hunts (trophy hunts in which an animal is kept in a confined area) for lions in South Africa. Approximately 1,400 African lions remain in the wild, but there are currently about 6,000 captive lions held in an estimated 200 facilities where canned lion hunts sell for upwards of $20,000.
Fortunately, this federal action is expected to debilitate Africa’s notorious canned lion hunting industry by barring the import of live lions and lion parts. While our nation has been a big part of the problem, we can now be part of the solution.
Humane Society International
According to international trade data, American hunters comprise the vast majority of the clientele for South Africa’s notorious canned hunting operations for African lions. Of the 429 trophies from captive lions traded internationally in 2014, Americans took the lives of 363 lions and imported their body parts into the United States – about 85 percent of the total.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States said:
“The federal action to place African lions on the list of threatened and endangered species could and should cripple the canned lion hunting industry in South Africa, given that Americans account for nearly nine of every 10 kills at these despicable, deplorable facilities.”
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule issued last week indicates that the threatened listing for lions in South Africa will bar imports from canned hunting facilities.
According to the government of South Africa, there are about 6,000 captive lions held in about 200 facilities where canned lion hunts sell for US $10,000 – $20,000 each. These facilities were recently highlighted in the documentary Blood Lions. Even the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa opposes canned hunts of lions.
“If you thought Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil was deplorable, what happens to nameless lions at these facilities is even more appalling and unsporting. Along with the new U.S. import restrictions, we applaud France and Australia for banning lion trophy imports, and we urge other importing countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain, to enact similar rules.”
According to analysis of information contained in the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Database, in 2014, 429 lion trophies from animals who were captive-bred/captive-born were exported from South Africa for hunting trophy purposes or personal purposes. Of these, 363 or 84.6 percent were exported to the U.S.