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For sure, Cecil's death has impacted significantly on an examination and an evaluation of how lion trophy hunting is conducted in Africa, and how such trophy hunting struggles to possibly or even remotely be called “conservation”. These are the results of such examinations:

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service agency has placed strict requirements on all future lion trophy import regulations by listing lions as “threatened” on the US Endangered Species Act and also invoking Article 4d. meaning that any further lion trophy hunt import must be shown to benefit the conservation of that species;
  • The European Union now requires import permits to be issued for any lion trophy hunting product. Each EU nation will therefore have the requirement to demonstrate that such trophy hunting imports are “sustainable”. Regrettably, while presented with the same information available to the USA, the EU Commission did not seek to enforce the stricter rules mentioned above– the “sustainability” requirement is dependent on too many vested interest inputs (including exporting nation numbers) to be effectively acted on.
  • Australia, France and the Netherlands have banned any future lion trophy hunting imports. The US State of New Jersey will no longer allow such imports. We expect other EU nations to join this movement and other US States to join New Jersey.
  • The UK's Under Secretary of State for Environment has promised LionAid he will review the policy on allowing lion trophy imports into the UK in October, with a view to aligning the UK with the US position.
  • In the USA legislators have proposed the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act to extend current U.S. import and export restrictions on animal trophies to include species that have been proposed for listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

It could be asked what is happening in a similar vein in Zimbabwe, the former country of residence for Cecil and a primary destination for foreign trophy hunters? Ask we might, but no answers are forthcoming and Zimbabwe would seemingly like to keep Cecil well shuffled under the carpet.

Despite the various illegalities involved in Cecil’s hunt, Zimbabwe has prosecuted no-one. US dentist hunter Walter Palmer seems to have been exonerated. His professional hunter accomplice also seems to have done nothing wrong according to the Zimbabwe courts. The owner of the land on which Cecil was shot, while not in possession of a lion quota, seems protected by strong connections. Cecil is not mourned in Zimbabwe – in fact, why should he be? He was just a lion shot with usual corrupt practices?

Since Cecil's demise, we have continued to hear the perennial defensive arguments that if lion trophy hunting is stopped, the land will be converted to farmland.

This flies in the face of the reality in Botswana, who banned all trophy hunting and has since engaged in a highly effective programme to convert former hunting concessions into much more profitable photographic tourism enterprises.

Furthermore, clinging desperately to the trophy hunting model, it has even been suggested that trophy hunting not only brings in revenue (to whom, we may ask?) but that lions will kill not only cattle but also children (!) and this then makes it difficult to justify the conservation of lions to the African populace.

So, apparently the conservation of Africa's lions is best served through killing future Cecils? And may we ask, how many African children have been killed by lions over the past ten years? On Internet searches, we failed to find any...

But let’s come back to Cecil’s legacy one year on. For sure, Cecil impacted considerably on public outrage about trophy hunting. For sure trophy hunting was revealed as the selfish and conservation-negative practice it is. Apologists might remain, but their time has already been exceeded and is now even more limited. Botswana has shown that African countries can profit significantly from a non-hunting decision. That is the way to move forward and away from the wildlife destruction promoted by countries like Zimbabwe. Oh and by the way, has anyone ever met an African trophy hunter?


Picture credit: Adam Sugalski


Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:19

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