Breaking news: U.S. says `no way’ to trophy imports from South African canned lion hunts

By on October 21, 2016 with 7 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

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.

Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Nancy Zimerowski says:

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ban on the importation of trophies from canned lion hunting is obviously the right decision. I have read that since the recent listing of the African lion as threatened or endangered across its range, not one lion trophy has entered the U.S. since January. We need to keep it that way. We should all urge the USFWS to continue to deny the import of wild lion trophies from the entire African continent.

  2. margie anne says:

    This is tremendous news! Canned hunting as a ‘sport’ brings back visions of the Roman Colosseum, with its bloodlust debauchery.

    It is pure obscenity that animals are bred to be brutalized and kilked- for fun. For kicks.

    The Safari Club is very powerful. We must continue to challenge the notion that animals and wildlife are things, and killing and brutalizing them is ‘sport’

  3. BeeJaye says:

    Stop the killing of our animals …. our animals are being fed poisons, our animals babies are being gassed , our animals are being run to death and shot at by helicopters, our animals are being captured, caged so that hunters can corner our animals in these cages to kill them terrorizing these animals … These hunters shouldn’t be allowed weapons to hunt !!! These hunters should hunt with only their bare hands with only the speed of their feet just like the animals … Enter the habitat of these animals with no weapons in hand, under clothes now that’s a fair hunt may the best animal win … We all know the hunters don’t stand a chance ….!!!!!

  4. Eli says:

    It’s past time this important legislation was enacted in the USA! Now, let’s watch to see what happens re “enforcement”. We all know that a law is only as good as its diligent enforcement.

    Canned Hunts are disgusting, no matter where they happen and notwithstanding whether the pitiful animals are officially listed as threatened or endangered. ALL such animals used in canned hunts, everywhere, find their lives endangered by savage, depraved, weapon totin’ bullies. They haven’t a snowballs’ chance. What a pathetic race of sick, twisted humans we have become! We enslave, abuse, neglect, torture, taunt and factory farm, any animal with no advocate or watchdog group with enough clout to save even a few of them. We have a complete lack of respect for ALL animals. How have we become so disturbed and so brutal?

    Of course, so little appears to remain within the realm of a sense of humanity anymore, for our fellow man, so it’s not huge surprise that animal abuse is out of control, the world over. Every day there are more horror stories of new and more depraved ways in which humans abuse animals. It’s disgusting to realize what our society has become, concerning animals, and our total lack of respect for them. Mostly it’s for greed, but other instances are for reasons I could only describe as sick.

    How nauseous we become of hearing, “I adore my animals”, from those engaged in using and abusing their animals. From equine shows, to the big time dog shows, we hear it over and over again, yet those of us engaged in animal welfare issues know the truth behind those pathetic statements, of how much these greedy idiots abuse their animals. Everywhere, shelters are full to the brim. Rescue groups become overwhelmed and resort to poor practices too often. Resources are few and limited for caring for the animals we CAN manage to rescue and guess what? None of the groups receive Federal Funding. That speaks volumes.

    The USDA inspects seldom and when it does, it’s a joke. They almost never do anything about known, proven, evidence based cases of abuse, neglecct, torture or illegal methods. Do we even need a USDA, when it is incapable of doing anything productive or proactive?

    Uphill battle all the way folks and that’s the way it is. However, thank you HSUS for pushing and making enough noise and garnering enough support to effectively promulgate legislation, which can help reduce the number of precious animals, killed in canned hunts by Americans. Any progress is GOOD progress. Keep up the good work!

    In the meantime, may we all endeavor to speak up, speak out and concern ourselves with the humane treatment of ALL animals. It’s our human duty, obligation and responsitility. Without us, they have no voice at all.


  5. Ann Gott says:

    And when will the US ban the canned kill businesses here in our very own SOUTHWESTERN states? Was this a good thing or just more specials interests trying to get more business for the US canned kill ranches right here in the US?

  6. Janet says:

    It’s a good start but more needs to be done to ban all hunting of animals worldwide for sport. Let the sick little puppies hunt each other. That includes Donald Trumps psycho sons.

    Congrats to Kenya and Botswana for banning this outright and choosing non-consumptive tourism instead.

  7. Denise Baudin says:

    This is good news about the captive-bred lion trophies from South Africa.

    What about the lions that are lucky enough to still run FREE in their own habitat???? Will the U.S. says `no way’ to trophy imports from South African FREE lion hunts??????????

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