French environmental minister and former Socialist Party Presidential candidate Ségolène Royal has instructed officials in her nation to cease issuing permits for the import of lion trophies. The cessation includes the import of lion heads, paws, and skins. Royal is also considering stricter controls on trophies taken from other species, but has not specified which. The French ban comes approximately four months after an international uproar caused by the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist.

In a November 12 letter to actor, animal rights activist, part-time racist, and wife of a former operative for the far right French National Front Party Brigitte Bardot, the environmental minister wrote:

Following your letter and recent visits in Africa in preparation of the climate summit in Paris, I want to let you know I have given orders to my services to stop delivering certificates for importing lion trophies. Concerning other species trophies, I am in favor of a much stronger control for hunting trophies and this issue will be discussed with all the countries concerned and with the EU.

France becomes the first European Union country to ban the import of lion trophies. The only other nation known to have such a ban is Australia.

Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, hopes that the French ban will lead to bans in the United States and other countries.

“We’re happy any time a government recognizes a conservation implication from trophy hunting and takes action to prevent that activity from continuing to cause the deterioration of a population,” Roberts said.

Currently, permits are not required to import lion trophies and body parts into the United States. It is estimated that an average of 500 lion trophies are imported into the United States each year.

A public announcement of the French ban was made November 17 at the screening of the film Blood Lions at the chambers of the European Parliament in Brussels.