Zimbabwe’s famous lion was lured out of a national park, killed, beheaded and skinned. Over 200 lions are legally killed and turned into trophies and sent to Europe every year.
Conservationists and politicians have called on the EU to ban the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies from African countries that cannot prove their lion populations are sustainable, following the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by a European hunter with a bow and arrow.
The death of a radio-tagged lion called Cecil in Hwange national park was described as a tragedy by wildlife groups and has led Zimbabwean authorities to attempt to track down the big cat’s hunter, who is believed to be Spanish.
But the lion, whose head and skin were removed, is only one of about 200 such lion ‘trophies’ that hunters legally import to the EU each year. Germany, France and Spain are the biggest importers.
In February, scientific advisers to the EU banned imports from Benin, Burkina Faso and Cameroon for the first time, on the grounds that their wild lion populations were not sustainable.
Lions were classed as vulnerable on the latest update to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list of endangered species, and critically endangered in western Africa due to over-hunting and a scarcity of prey.
MEPs said the Cecil incident showed that if hunters were desperate enough to lure lions out of national parks with bait rather than killing them in areas with a hunting quota, lion populations in Zimbabwe were clearly not sustainable.
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