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A year after Cecil’s tragic death, his legacy continues in protecting lions

FOUR PAWS monitors the trophy hunting situation and milestones over the last year


JUNE 30 2016, BOSTON, MA – One year ago, on July 1st, 2015, Cecil the Lion was killed by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. The circumstances surrounding his death exposed the horror of trophy hunting and led to public outcry around the world. On the first anniversary of his death, FOUR PAWS expresses our grief over the loss of Cecil and all other victims of unscrupulous trophy hunting. Thomas Pietsch, wild animal expert at FOUR PAWS, explains, “The case of Cecil the Lion was one specific case that came to public attention and caused outrage. However, this tragedy should make us aware that Cecil was just one of many – he represents the innumerable lions killed every year by trophy hunters.”


For years, FOUR PAWS has been fighting against the particularly cruel practice of “canned hunting” in South Africa. This brutal form of trophy hunting targets animals that are accustomed to humans. Given no chance to escape, these animals are forced straight into the gun sights of high-paying hobby hunters. The South African Government figures show that 6,000 – 10,000 lions are currently being bred for trophy hunters in over 200 breeding stations.


Until now, South Africa has not done anything to hinder this shameful practice. Hunting permits are not required, meaning that hunters – who are often inexperienced – frequently have to shoot an animal several times to actually kill him which led to a slow and agonising death. However, new restrictions on the import of lion trophies in several countries are making business increasingly difficult for the lion breeders and owners.


Pietsch continues, “In certain areas, steps were already taken in the right direction, for example new import regulations and a ban on transporting animal trophies on some airlines. Several hunting associations have also come out against canned hunting. But we certainly have a long way to go.”


Anyone wanting to help convince the South African Government to place a blanket ban on canned hunting can sign the FOUR PAWS petition here:


An overview of successful measures to protect lions in Africa include:


  • Bans in Australia and France on importing lion trophies.
  • A ban in the Netherlands on importing trophies from lions and 200 other endangered species.
  • Stricter import requirements in the USA (the country with the most hunter-tourists) since January 2016, hunters wishing to import lion trophies must prove that the killing was necessary to protect lions living in the wild – which is generally very difficult to do. South African sources show that lion hunts involving hunters from the United States have decreased by 70 percent.
  • Great Britain is threatening to ban imports in 2017 if the African countries of origin do not maintain their lion numbers more effectively.
  • Over 40 international airlines have banned or restricted the carrying of animal trophies.
  • The South African hunting association PHASA has taken a firm stand against lion breeders in the country and has distanced itself from this cruel form of hunting.
  • Europe’s largest hunting fair, Germany’s “Jagd & Hund”, and the Austrian “Hohe Jagd & Fischerei” fair have committed to oppose canned hunting products and packages.
  • Several African states have committed to calling for Africa’s lions to be promoted to the highest level of protection (CITES Appendix 1) at the upcoming International World Wildlife Conference, to be held in Johannesburg in September 2016.
  • Cecil’s 13 remaining offspring and 15 known grandcubs are still flurishing under the watchful eyes of park rangers and scientists.