The CT Big Five African Trophies Act—H.B. No. 5104 — would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of African giraffes, leopards, lions, elephants, black and white rhinos and their body parts throughout Connecticut—all vulnerable, threatened and endangered species.
Connecticut does not have clean hands when it comes to endangering Africa’s Big 5. From 2005-2015, 59 trophy hunting permits were issued to Connecticut residents by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so people could hunt and kill leopards for their trophies. Six additional permits were provided to CT residents to kill African elephants in Botswana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. And from 2005-2016, Connecticut residents killed 39 lions and one giraffe and imported their trophies.
The Big 5 African Trophies Act recognizes that legal trophy hunting as one of the main reasons Africa’s Big Five face extinction. It sends a strong message to CT, Washington and the rest of the country that trophy hunting needs to end to protect threatened species who are already fighting for the lives as they face poaching and habitat loss.
Note: Although CT is not a designated port (There are 18 designated ports for wildlife trophies to come through in the U.S. and New York is the busiest), residents can pay extra money for a non-designated port permit.
EXISTING FEDERAL LAWS ARE NOT PROTECTIVE AT ALL
· At least 1.2 million animals were legally killed by American hunters and sent to the U.S. as trophies between 2005-2014. American tourists account for the majority of lions killed for sport in Africa. Between 2005 and 2014, trophies of 5,605 African lions were imported in the U.S., an average of 560 per year.
· In 2015, the USFWS listed two lion subspecies as endangered and threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But overall the listing continues to promote trophy hunting. It allows for the importation of threatened lion species as trophies. In 2015, 741 lion trophies and 137 elephant trophies entered the U.S.
· The U.S. 2016 near-total ban on commercial trade in African elephant ivory still allows American hunters to import two elephant trophies a year. In 2016, 452 lion trophies and 185 elephant trophies entered the U.S.
· The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s irrational decision to reverse its three-year policy on prohibiting U.S. hunters from importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe is further endangering the species. FWS issued the 2017 Decision despite the political instability in Zimbabwe, unchanged hunting quotas in the country, mounting evidence on the negative impacts of trophy hunting and evidence that Zimbabwe is one of the worst wildlife managers on earth.
· Giraffes currently have no protection under U.S. law. Although animal advocacy groups filed a petition urging FWS to list giraffes as endangered in 2017, the agency failed to respond. In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) elevated the threat level of giraffes two categories to “vulnerable to extinction,” estimating that giraffes have undergone a 36 to 40 percent population decline over the past 30 years. Only about 97,500 giraffes remain in Africa compared to more than 150,000 in 1985. The U.S. is a major importer of giraffe parts and derivatives. Between 2006 and 2016, the U.S. imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 hunting trophies, according to a 2018 report.
· The fragility of leopards According to the report “The conservation biology and ecology of the African leopard,” published at Plymouth University in 2012, consumptive practices like trophy hunting significantly deplete local leopard populations. Male leopards are the most desired predator trophy in Africa, however, sex determination during hunts is not straightforward and can cause in high female mortality. In Tanzania, 77 leopard trophies were genetically analyzed to find that 29 percent were female. Additionally, a deficiency of male leopards—from trophy hunting—could cause a loss of genetic variation due to a declining population size resulting from a skewed sex ratio. Leopards show a high dependency for stable, long-term relationships. Increased male mortality disrupts leopard social structure and spatial dynamics, which can lead to increased intraspecific strife and infanticide.
KILLING IS NOT CONSERVATION
Trophy hunters claim that without their money, African governments would have no money for conservation. But the newest data reveals that trophy hunting is economically useless.
· While the Safari Club boasts that revenues from hunting generate $200 million annually in remote areas of Africa, most of the money goes to trophy hunting operators/outfitters and government agencies, many of which are corrupt. A 2013 study reveals that a measly 3 percent of expenditures actually goes back to African communities for conservation or development
· With the high degree of corruption in countries like Zimbabwe, dedicated and well-managed conservation is not a priority. A failure of the strict monitoring of the age, and sex of animals and a lack of penalties is a serious threat to these species. Cecil, the lion killed by a U.S. dentist on a trophy hunt in 2015, is a perfect example. While the American dentist did file the proper paperwork to sport hunt a lion in Zimbabwe and import the trophy, Cecil was technically poached, or hunted illegally. A minimum age limit for hunting lions is set at six years old by the wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe. Of the 5 lions legally hunted in 2014, four were under six, so as a penalty was there were no lions on license for 2015, when Cecil was killed. And if you hunt in Zimbabwe with a bow you need a parks ranger with you. Palmer didn’t have. This is just one example of how it’s impossible for US Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor so-called conservation programs overseas.
· There is growing scientific evidence that the legal trade of trophy hunted species enables illegal poaching by providing poachers a legal market to launder their contraband. One example is South Africa—the country has seen a marked rise in illegal rhino poaching since it began selling permits for trophy hunted rhinos in 2004. Poaching has increased 5,000 percent since 2007.
· Countries that have stopped allowing trophy hunting have shown progress in increasing populations of lions. A recent paper shows that a three-year moratorium on trophy hunting in South Luangwa National Park in Zambia resulted in a 17.1 and 14 percentage point increase in survival in subadult and adult male lion populations. · Eco tourism supports more jobs than safaris in South Africa, according to a recent paper by DPRU, University of Cape Town. If, for example, hunting land were converted to non-consumptive tourism, as many as 193,000 jobs could presumably be created (11-fold more than hunting.)
It’s more important than ever that states step up to protect these species.
Please contact your state representatives and state senators and tell them to support H.B. 5104. You can find your representative here.