Canned! No more lion trophies to be imported into Australia

The ban on importing lion trophies reflects the Australian public’s abhorrence to the inhumane practice of canned hunting.Would you have guessed that Australians imported the bodies of 29 African lions in the three years to 2013? Add in four lion skulls and 36 lion claws. In total almost 90 lions or parts of lions, mostly trophies from hunted animals.

Some of these animals will have been killed in the wild, contributing to a rapid and concerning decline in their numbers which is underway across the continent. Others will have been shot at fairly close range in an enclosure, having been brought up in captivity to have little fear of humans.

It was these kinds of ‘canned’ hunt that so appalled Liberal backbencher Jason Wood that he took the plight of the lions to Environment Minister, Greg Hunt. When the Minister reviewed the information about what’s happening to lions across Africa, provided by IFAW and other organisations, he decided that a ban on all African lion trophy imports was needed. We warmly welcome that decision, announced today in Melbourne.

Here’s what we told the Minister: African lions are in trouble throughout their range. There are now fewer than 40,000 African lions left in the wild and they face a real risk of extinction as their numbers have almost halved in the last 25 years alone. The causes are familiar ones to wildlife lovers - habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with humans and loss of prey species.

Sadly for African lions, over-exploitation by trophy hunters is also a factor. There is now clear evidence showing that poorly regulated hunting is contributing to population declines not only through too many direct kills but by skewing the population’s genetic balance as large males are selected by hunters and thus taken out of the gene pool.

This ban is probably one of the best and boldest things Greg Hunt has done so far as Environment Minister.

It reflects the Australian public’s abhorrence to the inhumane practice of canned hunting and I hope it can play a part in halting the shocking decline of African lions in the wild. From now on we hope Australians going to Africa will be bringing home amazing lion photos, not trophies.

-- IMC

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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