MEPs call for ban on trophy hunting imports into European Union

British MEP Neena Gill has tabled a Written Declaration in the European Parliament calling for a ban on trophy hunting imports into the European Union.

Neena Gill, MEP for the West Midlands in the UK, will also host a high-profile meeting on 24th February 2016 at the European Parliament to discuss current and potential future EU policy on this contentious issue.

 The illegal killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in July 2015 by an American dentist generated global public outrage and raised serious questions about the ethics and sustainability of trophy hunting. The EU is a major importer of wildlife trophies. Between 2004 and 2013, more than 117,000 animal products identified as hunting trophies were legally imported into the EU. Trophies from African elephants are the most imported, closely followed by hippos and American black bears. Imports of trophies from lions, leopards and baboons also number in the thousands. Many of the species concerned are ‘threatened with extinction’.

 “Trophy hunting is a cruel and cynical business,” Gill said. “The European Commission and EU Member States should follow their own rules which demand that trophies from threatened species should not be imported unless a positive conservation benefit can be demonstrated and verified. Imports of trophies from canned hunts should be banned immediately.”

 Supporters of trophy hunting claim old or problem animals are targeted, and that trophy hunting generates money for conservation and local communities. However, very little of the money paid by trophy hunters ever reaches communities or conservation projects, and the animals targeted by hunters are all too often the largest and strongest. Their removal can have devastating impacts on the families, prides and herds.

 Arguably the most cynical form of trophy hunting is ‘canned hunting’, mainly practiced in South Africa, where predators - almost exclusively lions - are intensively bred and hand reared so they can be released into a small enclosed area and shot by a so-called ‘hunter’ a matter of days later.  These cruel and cynical practices are opposed by many professional hunting organisations, yet the South African government licenses at least 200 ‘predator breeding centres’ which currently house between 6,000-8,000 lions, most of which end up the victims of canned hunting.

 Gill is calling for her fellow MEPs to attend the meeting on the 24th February and to show their support for tackling wildlife crime by signing the Written Declaration. Members of the public are also being urged to contact their MEP to back the Declaration.

 In support and promotion of the Declaration, international wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation has produced a short video message from Neena Gill.