Latest Lion Aid News

Lion trophy

Not very well, and that should not be a surprise. Despite appeals by a large number of wildlife NGOs including LionAid, IFAW, Born Free, Four Paws, etc.

LionAid can report very sad attention by the UK government paid to what seems to be a free-for all UK import system for hunting trophies of an iconic species, the African lion, already in free-fall decline.

The “responsible” government department identified to monitor imports is the UK Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). This organization is “an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs working to safeguard animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy”

Results from two Freedom of Information requests to APHA are now available. One request was made on September 2016 to cover import numbers from 2000 to 2015. Another request was made in April 2017 to cover imports to date. 


FOI requests and the resulting answers involve a legally binding response from any government agency as required under various “transparency” laws enacted by the UK parliament. All requests and their replies are therefore recorded on the UK government website.

After that preamble, let’s have a look at what the government via APHA replied about their records of lion trophy hunting imports:

2001 – 3 trophies imported.
2004 – 2 trophies imported.
2015 – 19 trophies imported.
2016 – 5 trophies imported.

APHA does mention in their letters that no import permits were required before 2015 (thanks to an EU ruling, not anything to do with the UK) and so therefore the numbers provided via the FOI “may not reflect the actual imports”.

No kidding.

CITES records, another source of import records, reveal these numbers of lion trophies:

2000 – 5 trophies at least.
2001 – 8 trophies at least.
2002 – 7 trophies at least
2003 – 11 trophies at least
2004 – 5 trophies at least
2005 – 6 trophies at least
2006 – 29 trophies at least
2007 – 4 trophies at least
2008 – 4 trophies at least
2009 – 4 trophies at least
2010 – 3 trophies at least
2011 – 9 trophies at least
2102 – 4 trophies at least
2013 – 3 trophies at least
2014 – 6 trophies at least
2015 – 15 trophies at least

Surely you are bored now by reading this long list, but I put all these numbers here for you to consider this:

APHA indicates that during 2000-2015, 29 lion trophies were imported into the UK.

CITES indicates that during 2000-2015, at least 123 lion trophies were imported.

In other words, a difference of 424%.

A bit of a divergence we can all agree?

So – the UK government really needs to get their import numbers sorted out. These numbers listed here just come from a small category of a specialized import – lion hunting trophies. With such bad record keeping, what does this say about any other species’ hunting trophy imports? Or import numbers of the huge variety of other wildlife products, many of which will also come from endangered species?

Government agencies are paid to keep track. Very disappointing to see this sort of inattention from a nation that likes to portray itself as a leader in the field of international wildlife conservation, especially now that government agencies are under increasing pressure to provide “real” information to DEFRA. That department is being asked by an increasing number of Members of Parliament to justify such numbers via a LionAid campaign lobbying to cease all further imports of lion trophies. Or at least to require that any further imports of lion trophies can be shown to directly benefit the conservation of the species.

When government agencies do not bother to keep accurate information, Members of Parliament and their constituents will be always fobbed off with platitudes.

This is a shame.

Posted by Chris Macsween at 13:18

No comments have been posted yet.

Add a new comment

Existing user

New user sign up