The EU’s Stance on Trophy Hunting and Trophy Imports

Stephen Wiggins Article, IWB Led Petition 4 Comments

Safari Club International European Advocacy Initiative, November 2015

Safari Club International (SCI) is worried, that the “animal rights groups’ efforts” to “ban all forms of animal use activities” (do they really mean animal ‘use,’ or animal ‘abuse’ activities I wonder?) might be gaining too much influence over EU policy makers.

SCI Government Affairs Director, Chip Burkhalter and Director of Litigation, Anna Seidmen announced 20 November 2015, that SCI are aligning within a new organisation (under the umbrella of “SCI European Advocacy“) to work with groups representing European-based animal “users’” interests. The SCI extends these “interests” to European hunting and pet trade organisations, zoos, farming, cosmetic and medical laboratories, fur trade and other such ‘companies.’

This appears a somewhat desperate measure by SCI to harness a disparate collective to support SCI’s façade. SCI’s desire to keep killing animals for fun/trophies is somehow in every “animal users’” best interests?  Each “animal user” can be confronted on their own reasoning and justification for animal use/abuse. But all “animal users” standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the SCI and their ilk (that kill for pleasure and try to dress it all up as ‘conservation’) is perhaps a reputational risk too far even for other such “animal users” to countenance?

What does the “animal rights groups’ efforts” look like? What “propaganda” are the “animal rights groups” employing to “delude the public into rejecting animal-use based activities?”

Could it be that the public have seen through the hunting fraternity’s “propaganda” and self-delusion? Could Cecil the lion’s luring (with bait) from his pride in a protected park, to be tortured to an agonising, pre-meditated death by some ‘well-meaning amateur’ Trophy Hunter have lifted the veil of deceit the hunting fraternity’s “propaganda”  hides behind to shield it from public scrutiny?

The first (positive) point to note, is the SCI’s recognition that the public ‘is’ being swayed to “reject animal-use based activities.” This provides further confidence that the momentum to protect animals from their “users” is clearly moving in the right direction, as acknowledged by SCI.

European Union and Trophy Hunting

Within the EU sphere, there has also been some encouraging movement in this same direction, but with plenty more action required:

– The EU trophy import rules announced in March 2015 clearly irked SCI. These rules were revised in September 2015 by the EU’s Scientific Review Group, but this ‘revision’ has since been protested, including by MEP Catherine Bearder of MEPs4Wildlife to ensure the protection is extended, not eroded. Under the EU import rules, each EU member state’s wildlife authority can still choose to issue an import certificate, or otherwise. This was evident after a call for the German wildlife authority to stop the import of the tusks from Nokombo, a massive elephant ‘taken’ in Zimbabwe by a German national, allegedly Rainer Schorr from Berlin.

France bans imports of lion hunt trophies” (Adam Vaughan , The Guardian, 20 November 2015) – “France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on trophies from other species.”

– UK Government debate, 24 November 2015 –   LionAid (“Urgent Call to Action,” 19 November 2015) successfully campaigned for a UK Government debate and it happened on 24 November 2015. There are clear signs that the  United Kingdom might follow suit (Justice for Cecil? Government looks to ban lion trophy hunting imports from entering UK,” Express, Felipe Araujo, 24 November 2015) and adopt the same stance as France (or it might sit on the fence and await more ‘reports’ before acting, by which time it might be too late).

Added –

IWB Letter to Mr Rory Stewart MP, Defra, 3 December 2015

LionAid’s Adjournment Debate on declining lion numbers last week in the UK Parliament, 30 November 2015 – Alas, no decisive action (yet) and still some arbitrary “six years old” talk (who and how can this ‘stipulation’ at be reliably policed by the Hunt Operators and ‘regulators’ in country?):

I use this opportunity to state that the Government will ban the importation of trophies into Britain unless we see very significant improvements in what is happening in Africa. We will look closely at key indicators, including the age of the lions involved—the latest scientific research pushes for that to be over six. As an interim measure, we will look closely at quotas and at international verification.” Mr Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are hopeful that progress can be made in banning lion trophy imports into the UK, at least for Zambia and Mozambique in the short term and to effect a total ban (like Australia and France) once further discussions have been completed.” – LionAid, 30 November 2015

Zambia and Mozambique Lion Trophy Import Bans Imminent,” LionAid, 3 December 2015


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Image Courtesy of Animal Advocate

– In March 2015, Australia banned lion hunting trophy imports and effectively imposing CITES Appendix I listing restrictions for African lions. Could the EU follow Australia’s example?

– I believe the timing of ‘Blood Lions’ release has  re-ignited the spot light (initiated by CACH and Gareth Patterson’s, “Dying to be Free in the 1990’s) on the abhorrent embarrassment to humanity of the ‘canned’ farming industry ‘tolerated’ within South Africa.  But, ‘Blood Lions’ has also cast the spot light much wider (within EU parliament too), across the whole deceit of the hunting industry’s “propaganda.”

– There is also another hunting exposé film, “Ngala, Fighting for Lions” in progress. I have high hopes ‘Ngala’ upon release can maintain the momentum and campaign in Blood Lions’ magnificent wake.

– There is also the recent Professional Hunters Association of South Africa vote (The end of ‘canned’ hunting looks imminent ) to withdraw support for ‘canned’ hunting by a close vote – Will other hunting societies, such as SCI also follow suit?

How Do We Keep the Current Campaign’s Momentum?

What additional pressures can the animal rights groups (ie. you) hope to campaign for in the near future?

Well, clearly from the EU perspective, there is an opportunity after the  EU accession as a new party to CITES this year to make a powerful stand on-behalf of all 28 EU Member States at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) Sept – October 2016.

My hope is that the EU can agree by consensus to a raft of ‘uplist’ proposals under The Netherlands forthcoming EU presidency, with a clear stance already established by The Netherlands (Dijksma to pursue international ban on trophy hunting,” 27 October 2015) wishing to see the banning of all trophy hunting.  This is good, because if the ‘toleration’ of ‘canned’ hunting is waning, then the trophy hunting of wild populations must not become the hunters’ fall-back position, subjecting wild populations to further illegal-baiting and abuse for the hunters’ killing pleasure.

Under the auspices of CITES, could the African lion be ‘uplisted’ to Appendix I, thereby making the commercial trade in lions a CITES offence? I hope so and trust you will also keep campaigning along those lines.

The EU can also seek to get its own house in order and ensure all EU Member States adhere to EU laws and directives:

However, the ‘sway’ of public opinion will have massive influence on policy makers. ‘We’ must do all we can to ensure the momentum is maintained and campaign to harness the publics’ backing and ensure it is cherished by “the animal rights groups” to the benefit of all “used” animals/wildlife.

The SCI’s Las Vegas gathering  February 1 -6 2016 will hopefully be dominated by the growing realisation, that the SCI can no longer hide from the scrutiny of public opinion.

Killing any animal for fun (as a trophy) is not conservation.

Comments 4

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