Banning trophy hunting for animal welfare, conservation and communities

12 October 2022


Our latest initiative targeting the EU trophy hunting market.

A photo of a lion's head mounted on a wall

With the fate of a hunting trophy import ban in the UK becoming increasingly uncertain, Born Free has continued to keep pressure on governments within and beyond the UK’s frontiers to put an end to this immoral and outdated activity. Today we share our latest initiative targeting the European Union’s (EU) trophy hunting market. 

On 12 October, Born Free, together with four like-minded NGO partners (Eurogroup for Animals, Humane Society International-Europe, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance and Pro Wildlife), co-sponsored an event in the European Parliament in Brussels, on the theme: Halting imports of hunting trophies: ending animal suffering while supporting conservation and communities.  

Hosted by German MEP Manuela Ripa, a member of the Greens/ European Free Alliance political bloc, the event provided the occasion for the launch of a new joint report entitled For a Revision of the Trophy Hunting Regime in the European Union co-produced by the five organisations.

The presentation of the report’s key highlights was provided by Born Free’s EU Policy Officer Elodie Cantaloube. It was accompanied by video messages from Dame Jane Goodall and member of the Belgian parliament Kris Verduyckt. Ralph Chami, Assistant Director at the International Monetary Fund, gave a presentation on the environmental value of individual animals, and journalist Izzy Sasada reflected on her research into local community attitudes. The European Commission’s Jorge Rodriguez Romero, HSI’s Audrey Delsink and Born Free’s Mark Jones then joined the other guest speakers in a discussion around the realities of trophy hunting and the role played by the EU.

The EU is the world’s second largest importer, after the United States, of hunting trophies from species that are protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which regulates international trade in threatened species of animals and plants. The EU is also an exporter of hunting trophies, including from European species strictly protected under EU law, such as brown bears and grey wolves.

Yet, an overwhelming majority of EU citizens (80% in a recent survey) and Member States oppose trophy hunting and support an end to trophy imports. These sentiments are also shared by citizens of source countries, including in South Africa where close to 70% of the respondents in a recent poll said they oppose the practice of trophy hunting. Several EU Member States have already taken unilateral action by adopting bans or additional restrictions on trophy imports at national level, but the absence of an EU-wide ban undermines their efforts.

The NGO report challenges the claims by hunting proponents that trophy hunting is sustainable or that it benefits wildlife conservation efforts in source countries – a position also shared by the European Commission. It presents evidence on the negative impacts of trophy hunting for the conservation of threatened species and the welfare of individual animals. It also describes how revenues from trophy hunting largely accrue to a limited number of actors involved in the trophy hunting business, with very little money actually reaching communities.

The new report also questions the morality of trophy hunting, and sheds light on the inconsistencies between EU legislation, the realities of trophy hunting, and today’s societal values. It provides the European Commission and EU Member States with a number of important recommendations, including a call to urgently reduce the impact of the EU’s trophy hunting regime on wild animal populations, while paving the way for an EU ban on trophy imports.