We would like to see Cecil's Law prevent the import of any trophy into the UK. It would stop hunters importing trophies back to The UK. We want to introduce legislation that would make animal heads, skins, claws and teeth effectively contraband. In the outrage that followed the illegal slaughter of Cecil, we found out that Britain has allowed the importation of lion trophies with the correct paperwork.
Official figures show that between 2010 and 2013 three skins, seven skulls and 16 “trophies” arrived in the UK. Other “big game” trophies are also brought home from safari holidays costing thousands of pounds.
Some leading airlines have taken a pre-emptive step by banning trophies on their international flights, but we want trophy prohibition enshrined in law. We are incensed over the “despicable” and illegal killing of Cecil earlier this summer, and we now believe the tragic incident has become a force for good by highlighting the appalling levels of animal abuse around the world. We want a Cecil’s Law which forbids the import of any trophies from any country and we should stop trophy hunting in this country, too. We would like Downing Street to take the lead in the same way that airlines did in the wake of Cecil’s killing. We are pleased to see some airlines actually took it upon themselves to lead by banning the transport of these trophies. We would like to see the Prime Minister take a lead as well. The whole country would get behind David Cameron if he decided to do this.
There are so many animals around us being abused at the moment and what’s wrong is the mentality that tells people that animals do not matter: we can abuse them, we can experiment on them, we can kill them for fun and for sport…that is all despicable.
What has happened in this particular story, was not a conscious decision from any of us but it came, it happened. Cecil was an animal everyone cared about and he epitomised everything that is wrong with our attitude to animals.”
Cecil’s death has exposed another form of hunting, the so-called sport of “canned hunting" - where gunmen can kill iconic animals bred for slaughter.
Often people do not know these animals were bred to be shot as trophies. It’s disgusting. These animals are bred in captivity, they are shot at in the cage, sometimes they are drugged so they cannot get away…it’s the same as people that breed foxes for their sport in this country. It’s all despicable; it needs to change.
Over the past decade, scores of lion, leopard, cheetah, antelope, zebra and hippo trophies have been brought home by hunters from African safaris. Polar bear and American black bear skins have also been imported.
Details of trophies brought into the UK are contained in statistics kept by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The charity LionAid has studied these figures and says symbolic British links to the so-called King of the Beasts should see the country taking the lead stopping its slide towards extinction. There are fewer than 30,000 lions left in the wild, with some estimates as low as 15,000.
Unlike tigers, elephants and rhinos, lions have weaker protection under rules laid down by CITES, the global watchdog set up to monitor the trade in vanishing wildlife. Lions are classed as a Schedule II rather than a Schedule I species, a status which would put them on par with other endangered animals.
Today, there are still seven African nations where it is legal to kill lions and export their trophies.
Lion expert Dr Pieter Kat, a trustee of LionAid, who has studied the CITES documentation at length, said: “The UK is not, by far, the largest importer of lion trophies from Africa. The official CITES trade database indicates that between 2010 to 2013, UK citizens imported the following wild lion products: three skins, seven skulls and 10 other trophies. In addition, UK hunters imported six lion trophies from South Africa and it is highly likely that those trophies derived from captive bred lions, so-called ‘canned hunting’.
Join us and together we will work to stop this.