The U.S. Department of Interior has declared open season on Africa’s most majestic and threatened species, taking actions to make it easier than ever to sport hunt elephants, lions, black and white rhinos and leopards. That’s why it’s more important than ever to raise awareness and support Friends of Animals in its push for legislation to ban imports of trophy-hunted animals from Africa.
Specifically, Friends of Animals is calling on New Yorkers to shut down the state’s port of entry, the busiest in the country, for these animal trophies by supporting the Big 5 African Trophies Act that would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation in New York of the African elephant, lion, leopard, and black and white rhinos or their body parts. Similar legislation has also been introduced in Connecticut.
Americans make up the greatest number of trophy hunters travelling to Africa for the kills and while trophy hunters promulgate the notion that without them there would be no money for conservation, in truth, there is no evidence to support that. However, there is growing scientific evidence that legal sport-hunting actually reduces the overall chance that these species can continue to survive in the wild. Legalized hunting falsely suggests that funds are being used to ensure the protection of wild populations and that the variety of species are recovering.
“Domestic legislation like the Big 5 African Trophies Act is vital to any hope of the long-term survival of these animals,” said Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “Studies show that increased opportunities to legally kill these animals directly correlates to increased demand for those species and, thus, illegal poaching. It reinforces the belief that exotic animal trophies should be highly desired.”
Federal law has done little to protect these species. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed two lion subspecies as endangered and threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But overall the listing continued to promote trophy hunting because it allows for the importation of the body parts of the sport-hunted threatened lion species. And while the 2016 near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory that went into effect in the U.S. looks good on paper, it still allows for two sport-hunted elephant trophies per hunter per year. More recently, the FWS signaled it is going to make it easier to import the trophies from Africa.
Yet, the African elephant population has plummeted by 30 percent in seven years, with just 350,000 left in the world where once there were millions. The lion population has dwindled by 42 percent, with just about 20,000 still roaming this earth.
In New York, more than 150,000 trophy hunted animals have been imported from Africa from 2005 to 2014, including 1,130 elephant trophies and an additional 84 tusks; 1,541 lions, 1,169 leopards, 110 white rhinos in recent years.
In addition to promoting its Big 5 African Trophies Act, FoA released an anti-trophy hunting campaign that features a chilling, emotionally driven short film that confronts the atrocities of sport-hunting these treasured species. The goal of the campaign is two-fold: to raise money to bolster our efforts to end the importation of threatened and endangered trophy hunted animals into the United States by 2020, and to gain support for its legislation.
“Justice arrives for threatened and endangered animals one animal and species at a time,” said Priscilla Feral, president of FoA. “We are targeting the motivations of vainglorious trophy hunters with educational and legislative remedies so well-heeled cowards who feel entitled to murder Africa’s wildlife are unable to ship the heads and carcasses back to adorn their walls of shame.”
We hope you’ll join us in our fight against trophy-hunting. Click here to make a donation towards our campaign today.