A loophole in international animal trade regulations allows trophy hunters to legally kill animals deemed as extinct in the wild. And they’re doing it with the blessing of the US and U.K. governments, as revealed by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is a trade agreement between world governments. CITES classifies animals into three appendices, and Appendix 1 contains the most critically endangered species. However, instead of protecting these magnificent creatures, CITES awards permits to trophy hunters to brutally murder them for fun.
Trading nearly extinct animals listed in Appendix 1 is banned except when it comes to killing them for “commercial purposes”.
Approximately 2,500 endangered species trophies have been imported into the U.K. between 2004 and 2014 because of this loophole. 2,500 animals that should have been protected, but instead were legally murdered in the name of entertainment.
Even more sickening, ranch owners in the US are breeding animals classified as extinct for the sole purpose of selling them as paid trophy ‘hunts’ for profit.
Several animals declared as extinct are advertised at captive hunting ranges, such as the scimitar-horned oryx and Père David’s deer. The federal government regulates this industry and issues permits through various treaties, including CITES.
“The domestic wildlife trade is the dirty underbelly of the trophy hunting industry,” said Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Block told CBS News that “Animals are fenced-in, hand-reared, hand-fed, and they’re baited so food is out when hunters come. Hunters are then driven up to the area where animal is eating and they’re shot there.”
Despite these horrific revelations, CITES is an important global animal trade regulator. Before CITES, wildlife trade was unrestrained. Animals that were killed and exported illegally from one country could easily be imported legally into another.
It’s time to do better than lax regulations that legally permit trophy hunters to kill animals declared as extinct for cruel entertainment.
We must close these loopholes and urge CITES to stop issuing legal permits allowing trophy hunters to kill the world’s rarest exotic animals. They deserve our protection and should not be pawns in a sick game.
CITES international conference started last weekend in Geneva and runs for 2 weeks. There, delegates from 180 countries will deliberate changes to the rules. 50 Members of the European Parliament have already written to Ivonne Higuero, secretary-general of CITES, urging her to close down these loopholes.