5 MONTHS AFTER CECIL THE LION, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made it a lot harder for trophy hunters to go kill lions in Africa and bring trophies — heads or paws of the lions — home. The agency doesn’t have the power to prohibit hunting that happens in other countries, but what they can do is classify lions as threatened, thus making the return of trophies to the United States much more difficult, and in many cases illegal.
This is important because nearly half of the lions hunted in Africa, according to The Guardian, are killed by American trophy hunters. Trophy hunts are very expensive, and presumably one of the prime reasons for going on them is to be able to bring the trophy home. That is no longer the case.
The Guardian writes: “Under the new FWS rules, bringing lion parts to the US will be banned in most circumstances if the animal is from a country where lions are endangered. Hunters will have to show the trophies were ‘legally obtained’ from countries that have a ‘a scientifically sound management program that benefits the subspecies in the wild’.”
Trophy hunting, which is often touted by conservationist groups as being an effective (if unpalatable) way to raise money for wildlife conservation, has come under fire recently with several high-profile trophy-killings, such as the possibly illegal shooting of the crowd-favorite Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe earlier this year.
Most of Africa’s problems with wildlife hunting have little to do with rich western hunters and more to do with illegal poaching cartels. But the number of lions killed by trophy hunters is sizable enough where this type of regulation would make a difference. France and the United Kingdom have instituted similar restrictions to those in the United States, and so hopefully, this will slow the decrease in the wild lion population.