At a recent Global March for Lions held in Melbourne as part of a number of events in several cities across the world, the Australian government announced a ban on the importation of lion body parts into the country.
This decision will prevent hunters from bringing home hunting trophies and was welcomed by animal welfare groups. The ban is the first of its kind and sets a global precedent for the protection of African lions.
The ban, which takes immediate effect, was announced by Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, and is a response to community outrage over canned lion hunting in South Africa.
“These new rules mean that if you go overseas and engage in the appalling act of canned hunting, you can forget about bringing your lion trophies back to Australia. You don’t deserve the right to celebrate the slaughter of these amazing creatures,” Minister Hunt said in an official statement.
“In canned hunting, captive bred lions that are used to human contact are shot in small enclosures with no chance of escape. Up to 1,000 lions are killed in this barbaric industry every year,” says Julie Sanders, Country Manager of animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS UK, which runs a lion sanctuary in South Africa for animals rescued from breeding or hunting farms, zoos and circuses.
“Between 2010 and 2013, 91 lions and lion body parts were imported to Australia. This contrasts with an average of 400 per year to the USA and 200 per year to EU Member States between 2007 and 2012, which explains why it is so important for these countries to follow Australia’s example.
“We also hope the next UK Government will take this issue seriously and impose a ban on imports. As captive bred lions have no legal protection in South Africa, a similar decision from the UK would bring hope to animals in the unethical South African lion industry and to the last remaining majestic big cats living in the wild.”
The new law in Australia will mean a maximum penalty for wildlife trade offences of 10 years imprisonment and fines of up to $170,000 for individuals. Corporations that breach the ban could face fines amounting to $850,000.
For more information on the work of FOUR PAWS UK visit www.four-paws.org.uk