Never Again: Call For an End to Trophy Hunting in Zimbabwe Forever

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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site

Help us take a stand. Trophy hunting is not helping vulnerable species, it's killing them!

In July 2015, a wealthy American hunter and his local guides lured Cecil, a well-known and beloved lion, off his nature preserve so that the lion could be killed for sport1.

The brutality and heartlessness of this act has thrown into light the disgusting reality of trophy hunting and the devastating impact it has on animals and conservation efforts. People should not be permitted to kill Zimbabwe's spectacular wildlife for their amusement, but it is clear that some hunters will spend more money to circumvent that concern, and the U.S. government has ben complicit in permitting those hunts.

A federal judge in 2016 upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2014 decision to ban imports of sport-hunted African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. Yet, even while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe for three years, 16 individual permits were secretly authorized to hunters2.

Zimbabwe's overall elephant population has declined 11% since 2005, and in some parts of the country by 74%2.

Even after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed African lions under the Endangered Species Act after Cecil's death in 2015, the department is still issuing lion trophy import permits and ignoring its own regulations to only allow imports that "would enhance the survival of the species3."

In 2022, a letter from the Center for Biological Diversity and Humane Society of the United States was sent to the USFWS, pointing out how trophy hunting permits contradict the Endangered Species Act.

"...importing elephant trophies does not "enhance" elephant survival," the letter states4. "Unfortunately, with regard to elephant trophy imports, the Service has essentially flipped the system allowing income generation alone—i.e., payment of trophy and hunting fees—to justify enhancement permits. A "net benefit" standard allowing permittees to "pay to play" or pay to import is unlawful under the plain language and intent of Section 10 of the ESA."

We can no longer rely on the USFWS permit process to keep these animals safe when it is just as easy, if not easier, to obtain a CITES export permit to hunt and kill them5.

The longer these misguided measures continue, the greater the peril facing our planets most incredible wildlife. Only if Zimbabwe stops issuing hunting licenses will these animals be saved.

Sign the petition asking the President of Zimbabwe; the Ministers of Environment, Water and Climate; the Permanent Secretary of Environment, Water and Climate; and the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry to work together to ensure trophy hunting is banned forever in Zimbabwe.

More on this issue:

  1. Katie Rogers, The New York Times (28 July 2015), "American Hunter Killed Cecil, Beloved Lion Who Was Lured Out of His Sanctuary."
  2. Friends of Animals (15 December 2017), "Feds secretly issued Zimbabwe elephant trophy permits."
  3. The Humane Society of the United States (2022), "Protect Cecil the lion's family in Zimbabwe."
  4. Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International. and the Humane Society Legislative Fund (1 March 2022), "Request to Deny Elephant Trophy Imports from Namibia and Zimbabwe."
  5. Catherine E. Semcer, PERC (13 July 2018), "The Elephant Permit in the Room."
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The Petition:

To the President of Zimbabwe; the Ministers of Environment, Water and Climate; the Permanent Secretary of Environment, Water and Climate; and the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry,

The murder of Cecil, a beloved and well-known lion, is the most recent case in a long line of trophy hunters coming to Zimbabwe to kill your nation's spectacular wildlife.

While there were many aspects of this case which makes this so-called hunt appear more like a case of poaching, there is one fact that cannot be disputed: that the man who killed Cecil paid $55,000 for a hunting permit, to undertake the hunt of a lion, which was granted to him by the government of Zimbabwe.

Cecil's tragic death has shown that hunters will use any tactic necessary to kill the animals they want while maintaining a veneer of legality. Cecil was lured out of his preserve by a greedy and heartless hunter. This cannot be the first time something like this has occurred.

The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET) states that people have the right to use environmental goods and services for their benefit, but also have the responsibility to look after the environment to ensure that future generations are able to derive similar benefits. Trophy hunting violates the ZIMASSET because the barbaric practice does not safeguard Zimbabwe's natural resources for future generations. Trophy hunting is not sustainable. It is not good for the animals or the people of Zimbabwe, as countless studies have proven that wildlife is much more beneficial alive than slain for one person's amusement, even if the cost of hunting licenses are high.

The only way to truly protect Zimbabwe's wildlife and stand in solidarity with the conservationists working alongside you to protect what is, undeniably, your nation's biggest tourist attraction, is to stop issuing permits for trophy hunting at once.

You have the power to do this. You can turn Cecil's tragic death into a catalyst for positive change.

Only by taking this hard stance can you send a clear and powerful message: Zimbabwe's wildlife is not for sale, not at any price.


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