Surge in lion trophies imported to UK
THE number of lion body parts – including heads, skulls, skins and feet – shipped to Britain by trophy hunters has soared in the past three years, despite a Government pledge to ban the controversial imports.
Ministers said they would halt all lion trophies in 2015 following a global outcry over the killing of Cecil the lion by a US dentist in Zimbabwe.
But the ban is still not in force and official figures show more than half of the lion trophies imported to the UK in the past decade have come in the last three years. Hunters have shipped 59 such grisly mementoes to Britain since Cecil’s death. This compares to 52 between 2007 and 2014.
Wildlife campaigner Sir Ranulph Fiennes said: ‘Our Government has sought to present itself as a leader on issues around animal welfare and conservation. If it really does take these issues seriously, it can’t dilly-dally any more.’
Eduardo Goncalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said: ‘Dozens of Cecils could have been saved if the Government had acted when it said it would.’
There are fewer than 20,000 lions left in the wild compared to 450,000 in the 1950s.
Speaking in the Commons last week, Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘I find the idea of trophy hunting a difficult one to contemplate as anyone’s idea of a wise use of time or resources.
‘However, it is the case that the current regime allows trophies to be imported provided that there is no impact on the sustainability of species. We keep these rules under constant review.’
GLOBAL OUTCRY: Cecil the lion