When I heard an American killed Cecil the lion, I felt sick to my stomach. I also felt embarrassed for our country. I know I am not alone in feeling concern, because people around the world reacted with horror to the needless killing of such an iconic African lion. A movement is building to protect rare wild animals, and I’m asking for your support to prevent future tragedies like what happened to Cecil. Please sign my petition telling Congress to pass the CECIL Act into law, which would place restrictions on trophy hunting of animals considered for endangered or threatened wildlife protections.
The Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act may be our best chance to protect rare wild animals from getting killed for trophies and shipped here to the United States. Without this law, we leave animals around the world vulnerable to trophy hunting.
Right now, the Endangered Species Act prevents the import and export of wildlife already listed as endangered. The CECIL ACT would extend those protections to animals proposed for addition to the list. The CECIL ACT would prohibit the import of such hunting trophies into our country.
I’m at Harvard Law School right now to learn the most effective ways to protect animals from abuse and neglect. I know it’s important to show Congress that the public demands better laws. We must work together to make this change right now. Otherwise, big money from wealthy trophy hunters will drown out the compassionate voices of regular Americans like us.
By signing my petition, we can send a loud message to Congress that Americans want to protect rare wildlife. Tell Congress to pass the CECIL Act into law to protect animals like Cecil from trophy hunting.
Facebook has deleted trophy photos showing rhinos, elephants, lions and leopards killed or tranquilized by a Texas Tech cheerleader.
Kendall Jones, 19, has sparked outrage across the social media site for sharing images of herself with the big game she has hunted through Africa.
On Thursday, Facebook removed some of the images that violated their standards.
In a statement, it said it removes ‘reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse’.
Following the removal of the images, she shared a Fox News Channel montage of the deleted photos but by Friday, there was no sign of the montage.
It came after more than a quarter of a million animal lovers signed a petition urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take down the photos in which Jones smiles proudly over the corpses of her prey she claims to be saving from extinction.
‘For the sake of all animals,’ the petition against Jones reads as it implores animal lovers to sign, ‘especially the animals in the African region… where hunters are going for fun just to kill an animal!’
Trophy hunting has been the subject of much media attention amid the backdrop of declining populations of big game animals in Africa. But is a blanket ban really the answer?
At the end of June 2015, a Zimbabwe lion known as Cecil was wounded by a crossbow bolt shot by American dentist Walter Palmer.
Sometime later [40 HOURS!!] Cecil was shot and finally killed.
The media attention that followed made it clear that many people were unaware of the realities of modern-day African hunting.
In fact, if you have enough money and are so inclined, you can legally hunt pretty much any African animal, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and hippo.
You’ll need the right permits and it’s subject to quotas and regulations but if you do it by the book, then it’s perfectly legal. And once you’ve killed it you can export the “trophy” home.
Following Cecil’s death, many have called for a blanket ban on trophy hunting. Calls for a ban come from a number of different directions.
For some, there is a moral objection to the killing of animals for pleasure, for others an understandable emotional response to images of hunters posing with their kills or concerns over conservation.
But calls for a blanket ban on trophy hunting fail to take into account the complex relationship between hunting and conservation.
Some trophy kills are hard to justify no matter which side of the fence you sit on. Leopard for example are a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix I species.
Such species are threatened with extinction and the commercial trade in wild-caught specimens is illegal. Despite this, it is still possible to hunt one “on trophy” (subject to quotas) for personal, non -commercial purposes.
Another hunting practice that has come under the spotlight is “canned hunting” of lions. There is considerable confusion between, and conflation of, trophy hunting and canned hunting. Canned hunting, where captive bred lions are released into small enclosures to be hunted in a “no kill no fee” arrangement, “hits the bottom of the barrel” according to Will Travers, President of wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation.
Largely based in South Africa, the welfare issues involved in canned hunting, which include severe over-crowding and inadequate access to food and water, have recently been exposed by environmental film maker Ian Michler in his film Blood Lions.
However, as lion conservation expert and author of Lions in the Balance: Man-eaters, Manes and Men with Guns, Professor Craig Packer, says: “These animals are not part of the wild population and so, there’s no real immediate impact on conservation… I view canned hunting mostly as an animal welfare issue.”
Many sought-after trophy animals, such as kudu and impala, are maintained in large numbers across Southern Africa, especially South Africa, within large, fenced, privately-owned reserves.
Animal numbers need to be controlled to prevent over-stocking and over-grazing. Surplus animals are harvested for meat but larger males can generate far more revenue if they’re taken by a trophy hunter.
The taking of trophy animals in such reserves is of limited conservation concern and the money generated helps to pay for the management that is required to keep reserves in good condition.
In fact, the impact of trophy hunting depends on the species and the region being considered. So the past few decades in South Africa have seen a landscape-level replacement of cattle farming with wildlife farming.
As a consequence: “Southern Africa’s seen large scale recoveries of wildlife in the 20th century, built around hunting,” says Rosie Cooney, who heads the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group.
Trophy hunting of many species was, and continues to be, vital in funding this reversal and a blanket ban there is neither needed nor desirable.
It pays, it stays?
This “consumptive utilisation of wildlife” model (“it pays it stays”) also works well in some other regions. The Bubye Valley Conservancy in Zimbabwe for example has more than 400 lions and one of the most important populations of rhino still in existence.
The Conservancy is funded entirely by hunting and, according to the reserve manager Blondie Leathem, a ban would be “devastating”.
However, trophy hunting is not always beneficial for wildlife. Over-harvesting can clearly have a detrimental effect on numbers.
Also, trophy hunters select large males and this can have more profound effects on the breeding dynamics of animals in that region. These problems are greatest when land is not stably owned and a “tragedy of the commons” (when everyone harvests as much as they can for short-term gain) can result.
It is tempting to suggest that hunting could be replaced by tourism and in some places this is indeed the case. However, as Rosie Cooney points out, tourism is only possible in regions that “are accessible…a few hours generally from a major hub…with good roads”.
They also need to be safe, “lacking in dangerous diseases….and politically stable”. There needs to be the infrastructure to look after tourists and you need capital to invest in it. Many hunting concessions operate successfully in areas where none of these conditions are in place, at least for now.
The pro-hunting argument is simple. Hunting provides revenue that directly funds conservation. Anti-hunters often claim that this hunting-conservation link doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The problem in deciding whether hunting is beneficial or not is that both sides are right.
How can both sides be right? The answer to that lies in the fact that Africa is not a single entity.
Different countries and even regions within those countries have different histories, geography, politics, governance, infrastructure, economics, population demographics and tribal politics. In some regions hunting is vital for conservation. In such regions “it pays it stays” works and a ban would be detrimental to wildlife.
In other regions, hunting could be replaced or at least supplemented by tourism. In still other regions, and certainly for some species, a ban on hunting could be a sensible move for conservation. A “one size fits all” solution is not what is required.
In fact, Prof Craig Packer says that across Africa overall “neither trophy hunting nor phototourism is sufficient to cover the costs [of conservation]”.
Whilst these activities can and do work in some places, he thinks that “we need to move away from the standard model of wildlife conservation in Africa, which has always been ‘wildlife must pay its own way'”. Overall, the approach doesn’t generate enough money and consequently, “we’re seeing dramatic losses of wildlife numbers throughout a lot of Africa.”
It is interesting that the killing of a single lion by a wealthy, white, American attracted so much attention.
As Will Travers explains: “I don’t think we should fool ourselves that it’s all about trophy hunting. Lions are threatened by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation…human activities that disperse and displace lions [and] the loss of prey species.”
There are few true wildernesses left, and as the human population in Africa expands, conflict between humans and wildlife gets ever greater. Far more lions are killed by cattle herders defending their livestock and their families than by trophy hunters. Don’t forget, in the UK, we long ago killed our apex predators so that we could sleep soundly.
To conserve wildlife we need to find ways to protect animals from people and people from animals. We also need to find ways to ensure animal populations are more valuable alive in the long-term (even if that means sustainable harvesting) than dead in the short-term.
Conservation is an extraordinarily complex problem but it is also one of the most significant problems we now face. The solution will not be found in knee-jerk responses driven by emotion and fuelled by social media.
Prof Adam Hart is professor of science communication at the University of Gloucestershire. He presents Big Game Theory on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 on Tuesday 1 September.
Air Canada and WestJet have banned the transport of big game out of Africa, but continue to allow the transport of Canadian animal ‘trophies’, such as black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears and wolves.
Sign and share this petition to tell Air Canada and WestJet they should be taking a stand against trophy hunting in their own backyard.
On August 4, Air Canada and WestJet banned the shipment of big game trophies after the brutal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in early July drew international attention and sparked a media outcry.
What about in our own backyard?
British Columbia is one of the last refuges of the grizzly bear, which once roamed widely across North America. Though listed as a species of special concern by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, the province still allows a Limited Entry Hunt for grizzly bear trophy hunters twice a year.
Despite a recognized need for protection, independent biologists indicate B.C.’s grizzly population has fallen from 35,000 bears in 1915 to as low as 6,000 today. Still, trophy hunters shoot between 300 and 400 grizzlies each year, and Air Canada and West Jet kindly ship the trophies home.
In 2004, the European Union banned imports of all B.C. grizzly parts into member countries after its analysis found the BC grizzly bear hunt to be unsustainable.
A recent study by the Centre for Responsible Travel finds bear viewing in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest generates far more economic value than bear hunting. According to this study, visitors spent 12 times more on bear viewing than on bear hunting in British Columbia.
Ironically, the very businesses that benefit from tourist travel are undermining it!
Beyond the evidence, 90% of British Columbians simply do not support the trophy hunt including all Coastal First Nations.
In the absence of provincial leadership, we are all doing what we can to stop the trophy hunt. It’s time for Air Canada and West Jet to do their part at home.
Join us in:
a) acknowledging Air Canada CEO, Calin Rovinescu and WestJet CEO, Gregg Saretsky for taking these important first steps to oppose the trophy hunt; and
b) calling on them to take a stand against this brutal and inhumane ‘sport’ in their own backyard by refusing to transport grizzly, black bears, and wolves from their natural habitat.
Until the provincial government of British Columbia bans trophy hunting, it’s up to us to make it as difficult as possible.
Please sign and share this message to help #banthetrophy hunt, one step at a time.
The outcry over the killing of Cecil the lion last month in Zimbabwe has some hunters worried that the incident hurt the sport’s image in the U.S. at a critical time when participation is dwindling and more Americans express support for animal rights.
“In my opinion, he’s doing more harm to public opinion on hunting than any anti-hunter could ever do,” said Mark Duda, executive director of the public opinion research firm Responsive Management, referring to the Minnesota dentist who shot Cecil with a crossbow after guides allegedly lured lion out of a national park. “And it’s too bad because it hurts … ethical, legal hunters who contribute to conservation and care deeply about wildlife.”
Duda, a hunter whose firm has tracked Americans’ attitudes about hunting for two decades, said the actions of Dr. Walter J. Palmer of Eden Prairie, Minn., suggested he had “read my newsletter on how to talk to the public about hunting, and did everything the exact opposite.”
Zimbabwe Alleges Another American Involved in Illegal Lion Hunt1:58
Not all hunters who spoke to NBC News about Cecil’s death agreed that the ensuing controversy had damaged support for the domestic sport. But none defended the way the lion, a popular attraction with visitors to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, was reportedly killed.
Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited and director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President George W. Bush, was one of many hunters saying that Palmer should be prosecuted if an investigation reveals illegal activities.
“First of all, let me say that if unethical activities took place – if that’s what the evidence ends up showing – then I would be 100 percent for full prosecution,” Hall said. “Because we ethical hunters believe ethics is defined by what we do when no one is watching.”
Other hunting proponents say animal rights groups are using Cecil’s story as propaganda to press their anti-hunting agenda.
David Allen, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, said animal rights groups “lay in wait for any opportunity to take issue with hunting in America.” But he doubts the Cecil controversy will stick to U.S. hunters.
“I think it’s going to be a huge stretch to try and turn Cecil, whatever happened, into that’s what’s wrong with North American hunting and fishing. It’s a huge leap,” Allen said.
But Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said hunters and pro-hunting groups should be concerned because the outcry reflects changing attitudes toward killing wildlife.
“I don’t think they had realized that once was this was exposed … that people would be as upset as they are,” Newkirk said. “And they fear that the same rage and disgust is going to erupt if people stop buying the myth that hunting in America is to put food on the table.” PETA calls hunting unnecessary and cruel, and advocates for more humane methods of wildlife control.
There are around 300 colorful, flightless takahe birds left in the world, but thanks to a hunting snafu in New Zealand, there are now four fewer of the critically endangered species.
New Zealand’s Department of Conservation had allowed hunters to target a similarly colored—but significantly smaller and more aggressive—bird called the pukeko on Motutapu Island, a predator-free site established to protect the takahe. The common pukekos can overtake takahe habitat and threaten the rare birds’ survival, and culls are one way to manage pukeko numbers.
But authorities discovered the wrong birds had been killed when they found four dead takahe peppered with shotgun pellets on Monday.
“We weren’t formally notified; we actually found the birds when my team were out on the island checking the transmitters,” Andrew Baucke, the DOC’s conservation services director, told Radio New Zealand. “Each of the transmitters have a mortality function on them, so that’s how they picked up the dead birds.”
The department had hired experienced hunting members from the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who were “carefully briefed” on how to differentiate between the two bird species, Baucke said in a statement.
Before the shooting, the island was home to 21 takahe. Most of the birds alive today survive in sanctuaries, with only about 70 or 80 remaining in the wild.
It’s not the first time the rare flightless birds have been mistaken for pukekos by hunters, as a similar bird cull seven years ago on Fiji’s Mana Island ended in a takahe shot.
Baucke said the deaths are “deeply disappointing” for the department, and Bill O’Leary, president of the Deerstalkers Association, said he is appalled by the incident.
“I share with the department a concern that the deaths will affect efforts to save an endangered species,” O’Leary said in a statement. “I apologize to the department and to the country at large.”
For now, all pukeko hunts are off, the department announced.
Pukekos, which can fly, number well over 1,000 on Motutapu Island, located 10 miles east of Auckland. Their arrival and expansion continues to threaten native birds like the takahe—a species that’s been slowly recovering since the birds once thought extinct were rediscovered on New Zealand’s South Island in 1948.
If pukeko numbers aren’t managed, they could overrun Motutapu—one of the sancturies established by the department’s takahe recovery program, which hopes to have 125 breeding pairs at secure sites by 2020.
Now, the New Zealand Herald is reporting the Maori people of New Zealand’s South Island are angry with the department’s conservation tactics.
“There’s no way that they would send their treasured takahe to a sanctuary for it to be slaughtered,” Rino Tirikatene, a member of the New Zealand parliament, told the Herald. “There are even calls for the return home of those birds. There is a lot of goodwill that goes with these gifts to improve the biodiversity, and to see that they’ve needlessly been bowled over by some deer hunters is just really disappointing.”
Since the killing of Cecil (pictured above), 38 airlines have committed to halting the shipping of the Africa Big Five. Photo by 500px Prime
The reverberations from the early July slaying of Cecil the lion continue to be felt worldwide, with the news that authorities in Zimbabwe have charged the second of two men who guided Safari Club International member Walter Palmer’s illicit trophy kill just outside the borders of Hwange National Park. “Cecil was delivered to him like a pizza,” said the Hwange Lion Research Project’s Brent Stapelkamp, who took the last photo of Cecil alive, just a month before Palmer killed, skinned, and beheaded the lion with the assistance of hunting guide Theo Bronkhurst and game park owner Honest Ndlovu. We are still awaiting word on Zimbabwe’s request to extradite Walter Palmer, who was at the center of this scheme to kill Hwange National Park’s most famous lion, and if that happens, there will be some measure of justice for all three horsemen of the Hwange apocalypse.
Either way, the killers will have a hard time getting those trophies back home. Since the Cecil slaying, 38 airlines have committed to halting the shipping of the Africa Big Five. Delta, United, and American Airlines — the big U.S.-based carriers with service to Africa — are among the airlines to ban shipping lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and Cape buffalo trophies. UPS this week announced a good, sound policy of not shipping shark fins, but we are still awaiting a declaration from that company on its policy concerning the hunting trophies, since four species of the Africa Big Five are listed, or about to be listed, as threatened with extinction under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has introduced a bill to ban all imports of trophies and parts from African lions and other at-risk species into the United States. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX, and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX, have announced their intention to sponsor a bill to amend the Endangered Species Act to ban “all acts of senseless and perilous trophy killings.” Lawmakers in New York and New Jersey have introduced bills to restrict imports into their states.
Right now, there are 41 trophy hunters who, just like Walter Palmer, paid a fortune to kill an animal about to get listed under the Endangered Species Act, and want a waiver from Congress to display the heads and hides of the slain animals in their homes. In the case of the 41, they killed polar bears in northern Canada. We’re fighting their import-waiver effort not just as a symbolic act to deny these trophy hunters their ill-gotten gains, but to prevent the bum rush of trophy hunters into a foreign land whenever our federal government announces that it’s going to upgrade federal protections for a declining species and restrict imports.
Finally, there is the battle we’re waging in the marketplace of ideas. We’ve answered the self-serving reasoning of the trophy-hunting clan about the value of their activity to conservation, and more than ever, people see through their pay-to-slay reasoning. People realize that trophy killing undermines wildlife conservation, is no boon to national or regional economies anywhere, and should not be countenanced or encouraged by anyone. How can anyone possibly think it’s helpful to animals to kill a dominant lion in a pride with an arrow, or to slay a large-tusked elephant, or a mature rhino with a beautiful horn? For them, I guess, it diminishes the utter selfishness of the activity by concocting some far-fetched scenario where killing a creature somehow helps the grieving, surviving family members or pride or herd mates. It’s really a travesty to think anyone could buy this drivel.
When it comes to The HSUS and Humane Society International, we’re going to devote more resources, in the near and the long term, to fight this enterprise of globe-trotting trophy hunting of the rarest, most remarkable animals in the world. If you’re willing to stand with us, and to support our worldwide campaigns against trophy killing, I’m willing to make you this promise: Cecil won’t have died in vain.
Cecil the lion, pictured above. Photo by Brent Stapelkamp. <!– –>
Cecil’s story has shone a bright light on the pay-to-slay subculture of the trophy killing industry and as a result, the public has voiced their outrage. Now it’s time for the U.S. Congress to act on it.
Congress is considering the so-called “Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act”, which provides a sweetheart deal for millionaire trophy hunters by allowing the import of the heads of rare polar bears they shot in Canada. Polar bears are a threatened species, but these trophy hunters want a special congressional waiver.
TAKE ACTION Please ask your U.S. Senators to oppose S. 405 and withdraw their name if they have already cosponsored this cruel bill.