International wildlife charity Born Free has revealed that South Africa is ranked 1st in the top ten worst offending countries in the world when it comes to exporting or re-exporting hunting trophies derived from internationally protected species.
According to official figures submitted by governments, in the decade from 2008 to 2017, a total of almost 290,000 trophy items derived from close to 300 different animal species listed on the CITES Appendices were exported or re-exported from 119 countries to 165 importing countries.1
The most numerous exported trophy items worldwide were derived from Nile crocodiles, American black bears, African elephants and hippopotamuses, with South Africa exporting a shocking 79,127trophies including 15,238 derived from Nile crocodiles, 10,107 from African elephants, 11,403 from Africa lions, 7,525 from Hippopotamuses and 6,871 from Baboons to name but a few.
Canada, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mexico and Argentina all made it into the top ten worst offending countries for exports. It was the United States though whichwas the declared destination for approximately 42% of all exports, with European Union Member States accounting for a further 27% and Singapore, Mexico and Russia in the top ten destinations list too.
Even more concerningly, these export figures are limited to CITES-listed species since they areregulated by a system of permits, and reported annually by governments to a central databasewhich is made available to the public. Recreational hunting encompasses a much larger range of activities involving huge numbers of animals belonging to a wide range of species.
In fact, research by the Humane Society of the United States revealed that trophy hunters imported a total of more than 1.26 million wildlife trophies into the United States in the decade to 2014, almost two thirds of which were derived from Canada and South Africa1.
Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy at Born Free, who led the research, commented:
“Trophy hunting is a cruel and damaging relic of a colonial era that causes immense animal suffering and disrupts wildlife social groups and populations, while doing virtually nothing to help wildlife conservation or local communities who live alongside wild animals. These statistics go to show how extensive trophy hunting continues to be, in terms of both the range of species and the sheer numbers of animals involved. It is shameful that countries continue to permit trophy hunting and allow the heads, skins, or other body parts of threatened animals to be shipped overseas so the hunters can display them on their walls or in their cabinets. This archaic activity must be brought to an end.”
For more information about trophy hunting and how to help visit www.bornfree.org.uk