This time last year, Cecil the lion died after 40 hours of suffering. He was killed with a bow and arrow by American “trophy hunter”, Walter Palmer. Palmer is one of thousands of people who pay a fortune to go to Africa and kill wildlife, just so they can ship the dead body home and display it in their homes and offices.
There are only around 30,000 lions left in the world, according to experts. So what, if anything is being done to stop this disgusting practice? The majority of people worldwide find the concept of trophy hunting abhorrent, yet it is still happening. Organisations like Fedex and UPS profit from it. Both of these organisations ignored the thousands of you who signed our petitions to them last year. Sending the message loud and clear that they consider profits to be more important than stopping species from becoming extinct.
Blood is also on the hands of the tour companies which arrange these trips for bloodthirsty individuals. These companies try and sell the whole idea of hunting animals such as lions, elephants, rhinos and giraffes as being good for conservation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is impossible to believe that anyone who refers to dead animals as “trophies” has a real interest in conservation. Moreover, nobody who travels thousands of miles and pays through the nose to kill an animal, then pays again to have its head stuffed and flown back to their country so they can show it off to visitors, can claim to care about sustainability or local communities either.
Studies have shown that only around 3% of income generated by the trophy hunting business actually reaches local communities, with the hunting industry and the government pocketing the lion’s share for themselves. Trophy hunting benefits only the sociopathic urges of the wealthy hobbiest, and the rich people who get richer by operating the businesses that serve their killing fanaticism.
Has any progress been made?
In 2014, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced that African lions were under threat of extinction by 2050. They officially proposed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for lions, and in December 2015, the announcement was made that this was going to happen.
ESA protection status has an impact on trophy hunting because hunters in the United States – where most trophy hunters come from – have to adhere to certain rules:
- All “trophies” have to come from countries with sound management plans and sustainable lion populations.
- There are penalties for those who don’t follow the rules
- The hunters themselves must demonstrate that standards have been met
Obviously this does not go far enough, as far as Network for Animals is concerned.
There are lessons to be learned from countries like Rwanda, who, instead of selling expensive hunting packages, now sell ecotourism permits. These permits, like hunting ones, don’t come cheap. Tourists pay to be guided on a hike by government trained employees and get to see endangered species at close range. Former poachers now work as porters, and the communities as a whole have a vested interest in truly conserving their wildlife.
Over the last thirty years, African lion populations have been reduced by 60% and now stand around 30,000. African elephant populations have been reduced from millions at the turn of the century, to around 450,000 today. And last summer, Nabire, the fifth surviving white rhino in the world, died in the captivity she was born into.
Cecil’s death brought trophy hunting to the fore, and shocked animal lovers across the globe. But there are thousands more nameless animals out there who need to be protected from harm. Protected from bloodthirsty sociopaths who take pleasure is showing off dead animals in their homes. If this practice is allowed to continue, then future generations will only ever be able look at pictures of lions, elephants and rhinos. We will have to explain that we all stood back and allowed sociopaths to kill them off for fun.