Starting today, the United States will not allow the import of captive-bred lion trophies from South Africa – the world’s leading lion trophy hunting nation by a long shot (600 of the 700 lion trophies that come into the United States each year are from South Africa). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced this policy today and it comes in the wake of the listing of the African lion as threatened and endangered across its range, which I announced last year (The HSUS and Humane Society International led that legal effort). This is the right kind of blow to this grotesque industry that is driven largely by the participation of American trophy hunters.
Canned lion trophy hunting is a disgraceful, tawdry replica of the already unethical practice of hunting wild lions for their heads. In fenced areas, trophy hunters corner lions or are led around by the nose by “guides.” They participate in a guaranteed kill, for bragging rights and to secure a higher position in the pantheon of their fraternity. There are an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 captive bred lions being held in canned lion hunting facilities in South Africa. In 2014, the most recent year for which international trade data are available, trophy hunters killed 999 captive bred lions in South Africa, with 664, or 66 percent, slain by Americans.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of steps taken by the U.S. government over recent years to address the deteriorating conservation status of wild lion populations that have declined by 60 percent across much of Africa over the last 20 years. There are now only around 20,000 lions remaining in the wild.
In response to a legal petition filed in March 2011 by The HSUS, HSI, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Born Free, and other non-governmental organizations to list the African lion as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, the United States listed lion populations in West, Central, and Northern Africa as endangered and the rest of the lion populations in Africa as threatened, in December 2015. When the listing became effective, on January 22nd this year, it meant that, for the first time, the United States must regulate the import of lion trophies into the country.
The U.S. has punted on a final decision about imports of wild lion hunting trophies from South Africa as well as Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Zambia, among other countries. We urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to shut the door on these trophy kills, too. We can take the lead from some African countries turning away from this ugly sport and choosing non-consumptive tourism, such as photographic safaris, as the future for their economic growth. Kenya prohibited trophy hunting in 1977 and Botswana prohibited trophy hunting in 2014, and both countries have seen growth in tourism as a result. These two nations should serve as an example for the rest of the region and the United States should look to them as the model management programs for lions. It’s time to entirely end the era of international transport of lion trophies.
In wake of Zanesville tragedy, five states still have no rules on private ownership of dangerous animals
This week marks the five-year anniversary of perhaps the saddest incident in the nation’s history related to the private ownership of dangerous exotic wildlife. In Zanesville, Ohio, a mentally disturbed man released his private menagerie of 50 tigers, lions, cougars, bears, wolves, and primates before committing suicide, leading authorities to hunt down dozens of the . . .
With the apparent killing of Pedals last week, and the slaying of more than 500 other black bears in New Jersey, it’s clear that something’s rotten in the Garden State. In a frenzy of killing the state’s small population of bruins, trophy hunters killed 562 bears during this year’s archery and muzzleloader season. Readers of . . .
Special interest groups and some Colorado politicians have crafted a constitutional amendment, Amendment 71, that masquerades as an election reform proposal but really amounts to an attack on the voting rights of the citizenry. If approved, it will disable future efforts to advance animal welfare and conservation reforms in Colorado through the initiative process. It . . .
It’s quite amazing that Maine governor Paul LePage, in successive, three-way races, won two gubernatorial elections – in the conservative wave election in 2010, with 38 percent of the vote, and then in 2014, by getting 48 percent in the mid-term election. Even though he never got a majority, you’ve got to give the man . . .
Consumers who say they bought dogs advertised online, only to find out that the animals they grew to love were already suffering from various illnesses when they purchased them, today filed a lawsuit against the online puppy marketplace PuppyFind.com. The lawsuit, filed by the Arizona law firm Burch & Cracchiolo with assistance from the HSUS . . .
Our disaster response work in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew continues in South Carolina, after our transfer of nearly 100 dogs from shelters there ahead of the storm. We’ve been on the ground in that state since last week, assisting in rescue and relief, which included additional transports of close to 100 other animals. We’re . . .
We vote for or against cruelty with our dollars, and that includes travel spending. So it was with great excitement that we learned that TripAdvisor, an online travel company that guides millions of tourist decisions, has launched a “no touching of wild animals” policy, whereby it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travelers . . .
In what may be one of the most surprising investment announcements of any type — a man-bites-dog scenario in the business world — Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest meat companies, has now become a significant investor in Beyond Meat (The HSUS has made investments in the company, too). The plant-based-meat company recently launched . . .
Partly because of the enormous interest in the Presidential race, Hurricane Matthew – a massive storm that affected an enormous area of Florida and contributed to immense flooding in the Carolinas – has not gotten the focus it would have otherwise attracted in the national media. We took the forecasts of a cataclysmic storm very . . .