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International pressure increases


Australia and France ban imports of lion trophies

In March 2015, the Australian government banned the import of lion body parts to prevent hunters from bringing home lion hunting trophiesOne major reason for this step was the unethical practice of canned hunting. Australia now treats the African lion as if they are listed on Appendix I of CITES. Appendix I provides the highest level of protection for species that are threatened with extinction. The new law in Australia will mean a maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences of 10 years imprisonment and fines of up to $170,000 for individuals. Corporations that breach the ban could face fines amounting to $850,000.  


In November 2015, France followed suit and became the first European country to ban the import of lion trophies. In addition, the French Minster of Ecology “vowed to advocate for stricter regulations on the import of other hunting trophies to the European Union.”  

U.S. ban on captive-bred lion trophies

While once considered the largest importer of captive-bred lion trophies from South Africa, over the past few years imports of lion trophies into the U.S. have decreased due to changes in government policy. Effective January 22, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) banned the import of captive-bred lion trophies from South Africa. This policy change came soon after the listing of African lions as threatened under the ESA. Despite this change however, data from CITES has revealed that FWS still allowed at least 280 captive-bred lion trophies to be imported into the U.S. in 2016, presumably through an exemption loophole for captive lions killed before the policy ban went into effect. FWS also recently removed import bans against wild lion trophies from certain African countries, further expanding the pro-trophy hunting position under the current Trump administration.


Fortunately, another blow to the captive-bred lion industry occurred in early 2018 by the U.S.-based Safari Club International (SCI). Effective February 4, SCI declared they will no longer “accept advertising from any operator for any such hunts, or allow operators to sell hunts for lions bred in captivity at the SCI Annual Hunters’ Convention, or include any entries of captive bred lions into its Record Book.” The Texas-based Dallas Safari Club (DSC) also announced in January 2018 that “the DSC does not support the practice of captive-bred lion hunting.” As the main proponents for big game hunting, the SCI and DSC decisions against captive-bred lion trophies should further add to the decline in Americans visiting South Africa for captive lion hunting.