New U.S. Rules May Put the Lid on South Africa’s Canned Hunts for Lions

By on December 30, 2015 with 5 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

One major effect of last week’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service action to list African lions as threatened or endangered across their range is to cripple South Africa’s despicable and deplorable canned hunting industry – as reported this morning by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner. 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 up to $20,000 each. This backwater industry was exposed recently when MSNBC and other networks screened the documentary Blood Lions.

According to international trade data, American hunters comprise the vast majority of the clientele for South Africa’s notorious African lion canned hunting operations. Of the 429 trophies from captive lions traded internationally in 2014, Americans took the lives of 363, and imported their body parts into the United States – about 85 percent of the total. Our nation has been a big part of the problem, and now we can be part of the solution.

The FWS rule issued last week indicates that the threatened listing for lions in South Africa will bar imports from canned hunting facilities.

The global community was horrified by Walter Palmer’s reprehensible baiting of Cecil, a dominant male lion — with the aid of an elephant carcass — from Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe in July and then shooting the widely photographed animal with an arrow. If you thought that was bad, you can be sure that what happens at the captive hunting facilities is even more appalling and unsporting. The animals don’t have a chance, and they are bred first to be handled in petting zoos and then, once they are accustomed to people, to be shot in what amounts to an enlarged, beautified pig pen. Forty five airlines committed not to ship trophies of any lions or other members of the Africa Big Five after the photos of Palmer’s killing spree were splashed on the front pages of newspapers all across the world.

Along with the actions of the airlines and freight carriers, and the new U.S. import restrictions, I applaud France and Australia for banning lion trophy imports this year.  Now it’s up to us to get other countries taking in lion trophies – whether from wild hunts or captive hunts – to end their participation in these inhumane practices.  Among those countries are the Czech Republic, Poland, and Spain.

In all, American hunters imported 720 lions in 2014, including 620 from South Africa. The two next biggest exporters of lion trophies to the United States are Tanzania and Zimbabwe, both of which have corrupt wildlife management programs.  Last year, the United States suspended elephant trophies from these countries because of their reckless management practices, a lack of effective law enforcement, and weak governance.

It’s time to end the canned hunts and the whole bloody business of killing lions for their heads, skins, and other body parts.  I’m glad to report real progress on that front this year. We now need to finish the job.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Karen Norton says:

    I believe it’s time too stop all trophy hunting. No one needs any trophys skins, or heads. Stop all this hunting, this is appalling, makes me sick of people. Stop this now!!!

  2. Patricia Alonso says:

    It’s time to stay no more trophy hunting all animals need to be saved

  3. Anirban (aka Abner) Bhattacharya says:

    People from other nations who go to Africa to hunt elephants, giraffes, etc. do that mainly because they want to kill an animal they can’t find in their own nations. These hunters can’t let well enough alone in that they can’t settle for the wild goats, deer, pheasants, etc. they hunt but need to hunt that giraffe. If people want to hunt wild goats, deer, pheasant, ducks, hares or rabbits for food, then as long as they are swiftly killed, I have no problem.

    Yes, it’s legal for tourists to travel to Africa to hunt giraffes & pay alot of money for this hunt. But just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. Law in most Spanish provinces allow bullfighting (I used to live in Spain), but they should abolish bullfighting because there are more humane & fast ways to kill for food. Visiting Spain in 2014, most Spaniards under 30 years old are against bullfighting & Spaniards told me that there are more humane ways to kill for food such as rifles instead of a bullfight.

    While it’s legal, there is no need for people to travel to Africa to hunt gazelles, gnus, impalas, giraffes or other animals though the animals are killed for feeding the local natives in Africa. Let the African natives hunt the gazelles, gnus, impalas, etc. for their food as they have guns, know marksmanship on how to quickly kill the animals they hunt for food & it is not expensive to learn this.

    My idea is to end the greed. & when you have money spent on these hunts, you also get African species endangered because tourists spend money to hunt them & the tour guides (some who make money from selling animal parts). Animals such as rhinos, hippos & lions are endangered & there must be a law against these hunts. Tourists traveling to Africa to hunt them is about money & alot of the money goes to tour guides involved in illegal trades.

    Africans hunting giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, etc. for food where they quickly kill their prey with guns & not profit is 1 thing. Let the African natives hunt the gazelles, gnus, impalas, etc. for their food as they have guns, know marksmanship on how to quickly kill the animals they hunt for food & it is not expensive to learn this. There is no need for tourists to spend alot of money to hunt their food, but happens because again, it’s about money.

    We don’t need private hunters hunting wolves, foxes & coyotes. If cull is needed to prevent overpopulation, then that can be done by wildlife officials since these are not food hunts. Problem with these hunts is that people take more than what is allowed.They could require cameras & have wildlife officials monitor these cull hunts. With govt. doing aerial shootings by helicopter of wolves, foxes, coyotes & other animals to prevent overpopulation & diseases. Public input in most cases given before it’s authorized. @least here there is less possibility of over hunting & there are statistics (hopefully honest) kept on how many wolves, foxes, etc. were killed in cull hunts.

    Now yes, you can have excess bobcats, cougars, wolves, foxes & coyotes attacking pets & livestock. Yes, you can have diseases such as parvo. If they can avoid hunting them & put them in zoos, then that would be better. If they are to be hunted, then it must be done by wildlife officials to cull diseases & not private hunters. But before they are, then there should be biological statements which show that culling is only choice & there should be public input. They should do what they can to avoid hunting bobcats, cougars, wolves, foxes & coyotes because these animals aren’t food & we don’t need fur coats anymore to stay warm.

  4. S.Jay Simms says:

    If you want to shoot an animal, use a camera!

  5. Save our Africa says:

    I’m do apauld by this evil, unneeded and unethical activity, How can this even be allowed? It’s barbaric and inhume. People claim that it is much needed to control populaion of grazing animals but if you really look at the big picture here, they’re taking the much needed predictors out whom are the natural population controllers. I saw a picture of what appeared to be a ten year old girl draped over a dead grizzly bear, and I thought…Isn’t this child endangerment along with neglect and putting a dangerous weapon in the hand of a child? It doesn’t matter what the laws are in other countries it doesn’t support the fact that something can seriously go wrong. To hell with conservation and funds for much needed villagers
    killing these animals just pushes them faster into extinction. It’s so sad to know that this is happening right now and be helpless

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