MILESTONE: US bans captive lion trophy imports from South Africa

The Blood Lions documentary was a touchstone in the battle to stop canned lion hunting.


The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) today took a bold step in disallowing any lion trophy imports taken from captive lion populations in South Africa.

This action further realizes what was in the recent Endangered Species Act protections: that without a scientifically sound species management program that shows clear benefits to conservation, canned hunt lion imports would not be allowed into the United States.

In the case of captive lion populations in South Africa, they have failed to present such proof.

Given that the majority of trophy hunters are wealthy Americans, denying them import permits in cases that fail to provide ample proof of conservation benefits is likely to have a far-reaching effect on lion trophy hunting in general.

While today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, more definitely can and should be done – an end to all lion trophy hunting. Knowing what we know now about declining lion populations and the current threats to their survival, it is hard to comprehend how anyone could still see any “benefits to conservation” coming from their slaughter. There are as little as 20,000 lions remaining in the wild, and with lions already facing threats from retaliatory killings from lion-human conflict and habitat loss, the continuation of trophy hunting is only further exacerbating the pressures on the remaining population.

READ: Killing for Trophies: Report analyzes trophy hunting around the world

It is our hope that as USFWS continues to investigate the sport hunting of wild lions in South Africa and other range countries, they will use the most stringent criteria, to place the burden of proof on these countries verses the lions’ burden to withstand all the pressures it currently faces for survival.


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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