In wake of Skye hunt case, HSUS and allies demand ban on imports of lion trophies from South Africa

By on June 25, 2018 with 11 Comments

Today, we are joining with allies to demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibit the import of any lion trophies from South Africa. Our demand comes in the wake of news from South Africa indicating that Skye, a male lion who was considered a pride leader, has apparently been killed by an American trophy hunter.

In a letter sent to the agency today, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and the Center for Biological Diversity say the lion was killed “under dubious circumstances that should prohibit the issuance of any permit for the importation of the lion or its parts.”

Americans are still outraged by the killing of Cecil the lion by an American hunter three years ago. The killing of yet another lion considered a “high value pride male” because of his genealogy, his position as a pride leader and his appeal to tourists and others, puts a species that is already threatened with extinction at even greater risk. Such trophy hunting is simply not sustainable, and we need the agency tasked with protecting endangered and threatened species to send a clear message to trophy hunters that it will not be tolerated.

There are serious questions surrounding this hunt and its legality. Skye’s territory encompassed Kruger National Park, a popular destination for tourists where hunting is prohibited, and a park with large open private reserves along its eastern boundary. For this hunt, it appears that the lion was baited in the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, where hunting is sanctioned. It is not clear whether the Umbabat reserve has a science-based management plan for lions, and why the local agency in charge of issuing hunting permits authorized this hunt despite the fact that Kruger did not reportedly sanction hunts in this section.

The removal of pride leaders like Skye has cascading negative impacts on lion populations. Among other effects, it creates instability in the pride and can lead to other males killing his cubs. It has been reported that one of Skye’s cubs was found dead days after Skye went missing.

Scientists agree that hunting male lions in their prime is unsustainable and it is for this reason that U.S. Endangered Species Act regulations require strict scientific scrutiny of lion population management plans before any lion trophies can be imported into the United States.

But the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to enforce its own regulations. In fact, just months after listing lions as a threatened species, the agency announced it would allow the import of lion trophies from South Africa, and even failed to properly crack down on the import of lions shot in captive hunting facilities in South Africa. The agency has also authorized the import of lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, although there is no evidence that lion hunting in those countries is sustainable. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have sued the agency over its findings that Zimbabwe properly manages lion and elephant hunting, a decision made in the midst of a coup in that country.

Hundreds of lions are killed by trophy hunters each year, and the loss of even a single animal deals a blow to this species because there are only approximately 20,000 lions remaining in the wild. But the killing of male lions who are collared for research purposes, such as Cecil, and who are known to draw substantial tourist revenue, is particularly deserving of scorn. Like Cecil and Skye, another iconic male lion named Kakori, also from Hwange National Park where Cecil was killed, was shot earlier this month. While this hunt was reportedly allowed under Zimbabwean law, at the very least it highlights the serious unethical nature of the hunting guides who are operating in the region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency is mandated to ensure that trophies coming into this country are not acquired illegally or imported in violation of the Endangered Species Act. With our letter today, we are putting the agency on notice to make sure that this latest trophy of the lion believed to be Skye does not land in this country whose laws and citizens do not tolerate such unnecessary killing.

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

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11 Comments

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  1. Sally Palmer says:

    As ever, thank you for The HSUS’s relentless vigilance on behalf of animal beings.

  2. Kimberly Stoner Short says:

    This ending of a life so respected and appreciated by those of us who saw Skye as the symbol for our support of wildlife is nothing but shameful. Yet another reason Trump is not fit to be our President. This man has not shown any desire to satisfy our wishes as the citizens of the U.S.A., his allegiance has been apparent to only the wealthiest of us & this disgusting act is more proof.

    • Kimberly Stoner Short says:

      Shame on you, Mr American Hunter. I would take all actions possible to prevent my Identity to be made public if I were you! And bringing Skye into the United States in a taxedermied state would not ensure bragging rights, you’ve not earned any right from this legal yet disgusting act. The president made another disturbing and anger provoking decision in changing the policy on big game hunting. Make no mistake, you will not be respected for this kill, Mr American Hunter!

  3. Stef Falc says:

    Please do not allow the import until the identity of the lion killed has been confirmed and pictures of the body released. Skye was easily identifiable

  4. Mary Shabbott says:

    We demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibit the import of any lion trophies from South Africa. Our demand comes in the wake of news from South Africa indicating that Skye, a male lion who was considered a pride leader, has apparently been killed by an American trophy hunter.#HSUS#SKYE

  5. Mary Shabbott says:

    #HSUS #Skye Leave a comment on this link.
    We demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibit the import of any lion trophies from South Africa. Our demand comes in the wake of news from South Africa indicating that Skye, a male lion who was considered a pride leader, has apparently been killed by an American trophy hunter.#HSUS#SKYE

  6. Lucia says:

    Please ban trophy hunting globally. It is completely inhumane and an abhorrent disrespect for life. Animals killed quickly and painlessly for food is another matter
    . But for sport…. absolutely NO !!!

  7. Doris Muller says:

    The title, US Fish and Wildlife Service, is misleading. I think a more appropriate title is US Services Supporting Destructive Human Predators. Such a disgusting bogus use of tax money.

  8. Fran Devine says:

    You can only begin to breathe when you wake up to see the desperate state of the World. Hear the cries of my friends asking for the banning of trophy hunting, the denial of the import of trophies. Please shame all trophy hunters and become a part of a better future. Save our wildlife. Do the right thing we implore you. Thank you.

  9. caroline says:

    Thank you HSUS, you are heroes. This is a very positive step in the right direction, the end goal being the demise of trophy hunting. Hopefully other organizations will follow suit with similar steps.

  10. Beth says:

    I had a dream this morning of a Lion.
    First time ever.
    To hear about Skye was so devastating!
    I have written and emailed and encouraged friends on social media to speak up about no more trophy hunting!

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