Remembering Cecil the Lion

Thursday, 30 June, 2016

Trophy Hunting Remains Prevalent Problem Worldwide


Sydney (2 July, 2016)  One year ago, an arrow was fired into Cecil, a beloved lion, commencing a heartbreak that would be felt around the world. Cecil, was lured, wounded by an arrow, then ruthlessly tracked for approximately 40 hours before finally being killed on 1 July by an American trophy hunter in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.


Today the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) remembers Cecil’s life and the countless other wildlife that have been lost to trophy hunting – including the tens of thousands more since this tragedy – and the work that is left to save those remaining.


Cecil’s death was not an isolated incident. African lion populations have experienced devastating population declines, by 60 percent, over the past three decades, with as few as 20,000 remaining in the wild. Despite the significant and sustained declines in population and range, caused by a variety of threats, lions continue to be needlessly hunted for sport and their trophies imported to the U.S.


IFAW was encouraged by the Australian Government’s decision to provide increased protections for African lions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) 1999.  However, IFAW would like to see the Government extend its stricter domestic measure provisions to include all CITES[i] listed species and ban the importation of hunting trophies, including for personal and household effects, as it has done for lions and rhinoceros. 


“The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide,” said Rebecca Keeble, IFAW Campaigner. “Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species such as lions are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day where species are under so many threats to survive.  It is our hope that Australia implements the strictest possible protections, stopping the importation of any endangered animal killed in a country with questionable wildlife management programmes, will also limit the demand to kill them abroad.”  Said Rebecca Keeble, IFAW Campaigner.


IFAW recently released Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade, a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide. The report found that African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade since 2004, with at least 11,000 trophies being traded worldwide from 2004 to 2013.  The report further found that the top imported threatened species into Australia between 2004 and 2014 were the American black bear, the grizzly bear and the chacma baboon – all of which are classified by CITES II in other words species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.


“While trophy hunting remains extremely unpopular in the court of public opinion, it continues to be an accepted practice in many countries where wealthy hunters are allowed to kill threatened or imperiled animals.  IFAW will continue to fight and advocate on these animals’ behalf until these beautiful creatures are no longer looking down the barrel of a gun,” added Rebecca Keeble. “As we remember Cecil, let’s not allow his death to be in vain; we hope it will remain a catalyst for further action to end trophy hunting for good.”


[i] CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora of which Australia is a Party


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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