A proposal to ban the import of hunting trophies from certain African countries was shot down in April when more than 80 percent of the European Parliament rejected the proposal. The push to ban the import of hunting trophies began earlier this year by a small, but vocal section of the European Parliament. What supporters of the proposal did not expect however, was for conservationists and officials in Africa to oppose the plan.
Officials in both Namibia and Zimbabwe say that should the ban take effect, it could be disastrous for local conservation programs. Many wildlife reserves in Africa rely on hunters for the influx of funds to support wildlife preservation. Funds brought in by hunters pay for the salaries of wardens, anti-poaching efforts, habitat conservation, and even community outreach. An import ban on hunting trophies could reduce the number of visiting hunters, which in turn could lead to money problems for wildlife reserves. At least one reserve, the Bubye Valley Conservancy, say that the lack of hunters has caused it to consider relocating wildlife elsewhere.
For these reasons, members of the European Parliament refused to consider the proposal.
“The majority of the Members of the European Parliament believe that a ban of trophy hunting is not a desirable way forward for wildlife conservation,” said Member of Parliament Karl-Heinz Florenz in a press release. “Instead, we fully acknowledge the important positive role of local communities and European hunters in this process.”
The European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE) praised the choice as the right one to make.
“In the midst of a poaching crisis, removing the important incentives and revenue provided by legal trophy hunting would constitute a detrimental blow to conservation and cause serious declines of populations of a number of threatened or iconic species, particularly on the African continent,” FACE said in a statement. “The EU now needs to focus its attention on how to best make use of trophy hunting to provide economic incentives to conserve wildlife and to effectively counter wildlife crime. Hunters and other conservationists owe a big thanks to MEPs who have not signed the written declaration.”
Activists who pushed for the import ban say they will try again.
Some speculated the move was spurred on by the controversial killing of a black-maned lion in Zimbabwe last year. That incident, in which Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer took a popular lion named Cecil, raised international outrage after the Zimbabwe government accused the hunter of poaching. Months later however, officials dropped the charges and admitted that the harvest appears to have been legal—at least on Palmer’s end. The hunting guide and landowner who allowed the cat to be taken on his land went to court for wildlife violations.