BIG FIVE AFRICAN TROPHIES ACT
Big Five African Trophies Act would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of African leopards, lions, elephants, black and white rhinos and their body parts throughout New York—all vulnerable, threatened and endangered species. The act – Assembly Bill 7556/ Senate Bill 4325 — recognizes that legal trophy hunting as one of the main reasons Africa’s Big Five face extinction.
NEW YORK’S ROLE
New York is the busiest port of entry for imported animal trophies of all the 18 designated U.S. ports. From 2005 to 2014, 159,144 animals were imported as trophies—including 1,541 lions; 1,130 elephants and 83 pairs of tusks; 1,169 leopards as well as 110 white rhinos and 3 pairs of rhino horns.
The Big 5 African Trophies Act will send a strong message to New York, 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. (FoA will be adding giraffes to this legislation.)
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.
· 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. 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.
· 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.
· 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.
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, 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 and is an example of how it’s impossible for FWS to monitor 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 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).
With the federal government loosening restrictions on trophy imports from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania and Botswana opening its doors to elephant hunting, it’s more important than ever that New York State steps up to protect these species.
Call your representatives and tell them to support A 7556/ S 4325 and ban trophy imports. You can find your state senator here and your state assembly member here.