Dozens of European politicians and conservation groups have called for ban on the trophy hunting of such endangered species as elephants, giraffes and rhinos.
Commercial trade in more than 1,000 endangered species of animals and plants is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
These animals are listed under the convention’s so-called Appendix I.
The hunting of animals for trophies, however, has been exempt from this ban, as the activity is deemed as being ‘non-commercial’.
The MPs and wildlife groups — which numbered more than 50 each — petitioned CITES for a wider ban on August 18, 2019
The letter was given to CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero during the global wildlife conference being held in Geneva, Switzerland from August 17-28.
The meeting is tasked with evaluating CITES’s rules — however the issue of trophy hunting had not been on the agenda for discussion.
‘A considerable number of Appendix I species trophies are traded each year (including) trophies of species listed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or near threatened on the IUCN Red List,’ the letter said.
It called on CITES to ‘treat the trade in hunting trophies in the same manner as it treats all other trade in wildlife.’
The convention, it added, must ‘implement an immediate moratorium on the import of all Appendix I species.’
The move comes after trophy hunters made headlines and dominated social media this past weekend with an image of a dead giraffe, slayed by trophy hunters, going viral.
Outrage at the killing came from all over the world, including notorious outspoken condemner of trophy hunting and comedian Ricky Gervais, BBC star and ex-footballer Gary Lineker and Giles Coran, a British food writer and television presenter.
Many celebrities have thrown themselves behind the cause, including Kevin Pietersen the famed ex-England cricket player who is now an activist against rhino poaching.
The signatories also called for a ban on the practice of rearing lions in captivity for the purpose of providing hunters with trophy kills.
Hunters are known to prey on a broad range of species, including cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, giraffes, grey parrots and rhinoceros, as well as primates like chimpanzees.
‘CITES permits have been issued (to) hunters wanting to shoot and take home trophies of some of the world’s most endangered animals,’ said the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, which is lobbying for a change in the CITES’ rules.
A report by the campaign notes that the United States — the biggest importer of such trophies, by a considerable margin — has issued around an estimated 200,000 import permits in the past decade alone.
This is figure is nine times that of the second-largest importer, China, whose permit issuing rate has surged from just 18 back in 2007 to 2,141 a decade later, the campaign noted.
The report also highlight a recent increase in trophy hunting by citizens of a number of other countries, including Austria, Belgium, Canada and Russia.
In Africa, government-licensed hunting is a common practice, with tourists paying to shoot a limited number of animals from selected species.
In defence of the controversial practice, countries that sell licenses for the trophy hunting of endangered species often note that the proceeds of such are used to fund conservation and anti-poaching activities.
They also cite wildlife experts who assert that hunting can, in moderation, help to aid long-term conservation projects — an opinion which is not universally shared.
The CITES exemption for trophy hunting is ‘absolutely inexplicable,’ Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting founder Eduardo Goncalves told the AFP.
Trophy hunting, he added, is a ‘global multi-million dollar industry’, which is ‘clearly commercial’.
‘The loophole that allows trophy hunters to shoot endangered species must be closed immediately.’