France Becomes First E.U. Nation to Ban Lion Trophies
Some four months following the murder of Cecil the Lion, while protests and petitions remain, nations have been slow to take decisive action. Joining a small though hopefully growing list of countries, France has banned the import of lion heads, paws, skins, and other so-called hunting ‘trophies.’
Permits will no longer be issued for lion trophies, and there may be stricter enforcement on other animal trophies looming as well, wrote France’s environmental minister Ségolène Royal in a letter.
“Concerning other species trophies,” she wrote, “I am in favour of a much stronger control for hunting trophies and this issue will be discussed with all the countries concerned and with the EU.”
France is the first state in the European Union to act as such, though the entire EU was called upon by conservationists this past summer to ban lion trophies. International outrage was sparked after a dentist from Minnesota slaughtered Cecil, a beloved and protected figure in Zimbabwe’s National Park.
In four years from 2010 to 2013, more than 100 lion trophies were imported to France. The ban should have a symbolic effect as well, with France leading the E.U. In March, Australia banned lion trophy imports, while Botswana followed suit after Cecil’s death.
“Within the EU, France was a major importer of such trophies and we expect that wild lions will now find themselves safer without the presence of French trophy hunters,” said a spokeswoman for Lionaid, a U.K.-based charity. “We trust that France’s decision will create a domino effect within the EU and that we will soon hear about other member states joining together to say no [to trophies].”
Hunting isn’t the only threat to African lions however. Last month, scientists forecasted the lion population in central and western Africa may halve due to a loss of prey and habitat. What’s more, hunting bans pose a problem for African communities reliant on the money it brings.