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Research reveals shocking scale of trophy hunting industry worldwide

Research reveals shocking scale of trophy hunting industry worldwide

The leopard is among the most imported endangered species in the UK

Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade, was released by IFAW today [Tuesday].

The cruelty of trophy hunting was thrust under the global media spotlight almost a year ago when there was international condemnation of the 40-hour long suffering and eventual slaughter of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by a US trophy hunter, dentist Walter Palmer.

The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, IFAW’s new report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may have been traded between nations between 2004 and 2014, with at least 200,000 of these being made up of categories of species and sub-species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.

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‘The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide,’ said IFAW UK Director Philip Mansbridge. ‘Even in the face of extinction, imperilled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centrepiece of someone’s décor.

He added: ’It is unconscionable in this modern day where species are under so many threats to survive.’

IFAW’s research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting between 2004 and 2014, with the top 20 countries responsible for 97% of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71% of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nations on the list: Germany and Spain (both 5%).

Hunting trophy imports and exports involving the UK are relatively low* in comparison with other Western European countries, but IFAW believes the UK Government should still ban the import of hunting trophies to close the window for those that wish to take part in this cruel ‘sport’ and to set an example to other countries.

Mansbridge added: ‘It could be argued that the concept of trophy hunting as we know it today was invented by the British Empire during Victorian times. We started this cruel practice – now we should lead the world in stopping it.’

The top five threatened species imported most into the UK as hunting trophies are the lechwe (antelope), leopard, African elephant, common wolf and brown bear.

Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35%), South Africa (23%) and Namibia (11%), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the US, followed by African nations to the US.

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The analysis further revealed that three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the ‘Africa Big Five’ (African elephant, African leopard and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperilled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade since 2004, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide from 2004 to 2013.

Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with more than 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide between 2004 and 2014. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased since 2004.

To view the full report, click here.

* The UK had an average hunting trophy importing rank of 23.6 from 2004-2013, which is remarkably low compared to other Western European countries.

The countries from which most trophies imported to the UK originate are Zambia (37%), South Africa (21%), Canada (11%), Democratic Republic of the Congo (7%), Namibia (6%), US (5%) and the Russian Federation (5%).

The two threatened species with the highest imports, the lechwe and leopard, come mostly from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, click here.