Importing trophy parts from lions and other endangered animals has been banned in the US in recent years, due to animal rights concerns and in an effort to prevent the extinction of vulnerable wildlife. On Thursday, however, the Huffington Post reported that the US government has issued over three dozen permits allowing trophy parts from African lions to be imported to the United States. The importation of lion trophies had been previously illegal due to the animal’s endangered species designation (African lions are still listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species).
A memorandum released by the United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, overturns an Obama-era ban on some trophies, including those taken from lions and elephants. Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, took issue with the memorandum, saying in a press release, “If African wildlife is to survive the next few decades in their homelands, these elephants, lions, and other animals…must be worth more alive than dead.”
With the issuing of these new trophy permits, it’s natural to wonder: who’s filing them? Well, the majority are Republican donors, or members of a hunting advocacy group called Safari Club International. One permit in particular was awarded to Philip Glass, a Texas rancher and big Trump donor, who took a $100,000 trophy safari in Zimbabwe in 2016 that was captured for a documentary called Trophy.
Big game hunters argue that their activities actually benefit conservation efforts and local economies, but animal rights supporters disagree.