US set to ban lion tro­phies from SA

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - SHEREE BEGA

THE US will no longer al­low lion tro­phies to be im­ported from cap­tive lion pop­u­la­tions in South Africa, de­scrib­ing this as a “ma­jor step” for the con­ser­va­tion of the species across Africa.

Writ­ing in the Huff­in­g­ton Post yes­ter­day, di­rec­tor of the US Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice (USFW) Dan Ashe said it “can­not and will not al­low tro­phies into the US from any na­tion whose lion con­ser­va­tion pro­gramme fails to meet key cri­te­ria for trans­parency, sci­en­tific man­age­ment and ef­fec­tive­ness”.

Last year, the US an­nounced it had changed the rules re­lat­ing to the im­port of lion tro­phies into the coun­try, now re­quir­ing US hunters to ob­tain an im­port per­mit be­fore the hunts take place.

But Chris Mercer, of the Cam­paign Against Canned Hunt­ing, sug­gested this was “at the very least, a clever pub­lic re­la­tions coup”.

“USFW can claim to be pro­tect­ing lions, which it is not, can claim to be sup­port­ing weak African con­ser­va­tion struc­tures, which it is not, and can claim to be con­trol­ling the hunt­ing in­dus­try, which it is not.”

Other than “adding a layer of bu­reau­cracy” to the pa­per­work of for­eign hunters and “in­fu­ri­at­ing hunt­ing thugs, noth­ing will change on the ground”. “Canned lion hunt­ing will con­tinue un­abated,” he sug­gested.

For­eign lion hunters had al­ready found a way around this re­stric­tion, by em­ploy­ing “pay to play” tac­tics which would see hunters do­nate to a lion re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion in re­turn for a per­mit to im­port his tame lion tro­phy.

“In that way, he proves that the ‘hunt’ will ‘en­hance the sur­vival of wild lions’ as re­quired by the new rule,” said Mercer.

Blood Lions, a cam­paign to out­law cap­tive lion hunt­ing and canned hunt­ing, ap­plauded the US move, how­ever.

“So many peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions from around the world have be­come part of the cam­paign to end these un­eth­i­cal prac­tices be­cause they also be­lieve they have no place in con­ser­va­tion,” it said.

sheree.bega@inl.co.za

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