Time to clamp down on trophy hunting – Wildlife advocacy groups call on European Governments to take action hunting trophy imports
Much of the world’s wildlife is in serious decline, including iconic animals that are targets of wealthy trophy hunters. Many hunters originate from EU Member States and bring their trophies home with them, making the EU a major importer of hunting trophies.
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) trade database, in the decade to 2013 EU Member States declared imports of more than 117,000 trophy items derived from at least 87 different animal genera listed on the CITES appendices. These included more than 14,500 items derived from African elephants. Other commonly targeted species included hippopotamus (14,205), American black bear (12,077), leopard (4,016) and African lion (3,308).
While hunting trophy imports were declared by all EU Member States, the heaviest importing country was Spain (21,798), followed by Germany (19,079), France (12,333) and Italy (11,499).
Daniela Freyer, co-founder of German group Pro Wildlife and one of the lead authors of the letter, said: “We have serious doubts that EU authorities are sticking to existing regulations requiring that trophy imports must only be granted when the hunt is legal, does not harm the population and benefits the conservation of strictly protected species. For example scientists have for years been warning against lion trophy hunting in Tanzania where populations have collapsed, yet the EU has given a green light to lion trophy imports from Tanzania year after year.”
Eurogroup for Animals Director Reineke Hameleers stated: “It is often claimed that trophy hunting supports species conservation by generating income which can be used for wildlife protection and local community development. However, there is increasing evidence to show that in many cases, trophy hunting is ecologically unsustainable. In addition, in most countries in which trophy hunting is practiced revenues do not contribute significantly to the local communities’ economy”.
Adam M Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based Born Free Foundation and US-based Born Free USA, added: “Trophy hunting is, in our view, unethical, but it is also subject to significant corruption and poor oversight. And while trophy hunting of threatened or endangered species should never be allowed, at the very least, before allowing their citizens to kill imperilled wild animals and bring their body parts home to adorn their trophy cabinets, EU Member States need to be 100% certain, based on sound science, that this destructive action does not pose an additional threat to the already beleaguered wildlife species being hunted.”
The letter urges all EU Member States to suspend the issuance of import permits for hunting trophies derived from species listed on the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation annexes, at least until a full review of the regime for determining whether import permits should be issued has taken place, taking into account current guidelines and ethical considerations.
For example scientists have for years been warning against lion trophy hunting in Tanzania where populations have collapsed, yet the EU has given a green light to lion trophy imports from Tanzania year after year.Daniela Freyer, Co-founder of Pro Wildlife