The US Fish and Wildlife Service made a decision to ban hunting trophies of captive South-African lions. The decision was due immediately, the 20th October. Earlier, the US had tightened the import of wild lion trophies. Australia, France and Netherlands have also taken a stricter policy on importing trophies.
The decision is important because most of the international trophy hunters are from the US. Europe holds the second place. About hundred trophy hunting vacations abroad are made from Finland alone. Finns travel to South Africa too, where hunting is practically always a form of canned hunting, based on captive bred animals like big cats and antelopes.
“The destiny of cat predators among many other species is globally at stake. Legal hunting and poaching cause populations to decline at the same time the wildlife is losing habitat. All the time, even endangered species are hunted legally. We must act now. No one can say we did not know when it will be too late,” Leo Stranius, Director of the Finnish Nature League says.
Organized Wildlife Crime
Restrictions of trophy import strengthen the US practice regarding trophy hunting as an aspect of the catastrophic general situation. In the shadows of hunting tourism and legal wildlife trade poaching and wildlife crime flourish. Different conservation authorities have estimated that for instance elephants and lions will be extinct within a good ten years.
John Scanlon, the Secretary-General of Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) has said the situation is already beyond environmental and wildlife organizations’ measures because the wildlife crime is transnational and organized.
According to the US strategy, the government takes an active role in evaluating conservation administration and practices also in several other countries where American tourists hunt. South Africa is not the only one. From now on, the US does not allow import of the trophies unless the exporting country can provide evidence to demonstrate that hunting benefits conservation.
”If we want to stop the trade of endangered species and their body parts Europe, too, has to commit to restricting trophy import and supporting local conservation. A more active role in supporting conservation would be natural for EU. The banning of trophy import, however, must be put through immediately,” Heini Kaasalainen, Chairman of the Trophy Free EU Group summarizes.