Surge in lion tro­phies im­ported to UK

The Mail on Sunday - - Tina Weaver - By Michael Pow­ell

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

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