Responding to the global outcry over the trophy hunting of lions following the illegal killing of Cecil in Zimbabwe in July 2015, leading wildlife protection charities FOUR PAWS, the Born Free Foundation, Lion Aid, IFAW, Save Me and One Protest, will come together in London on Saturday 30th April to call for an end to lion trophy hunting in Africa and the import of lion trophies into the UK and European Union.
The protest will see hundreds of people march from Cavendish Square to Downing Street to hear speeches from leading wildlife campaigners, politicians and actors, including Born Free Foundation Co-Founder, Virginia McKenna OBE. The march will end with a delegation going into Downing Street to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister. The letter is supported by leading conservationists and public figures and calls for an immediate halt to all African lion trophy imports to the UK.
Brian da Cal, who heads FOUR PAWS’ UK office and will be part of the delegation that delivers the letter to the Prime Minister, commented: “We are pleased to be joining in solidarity with other organisations and many concerned members of the general public to call for a real and lasting change for lions in Africa. For years, FOUR PAWS has campaigned against the cruel practice of canned lion hunting, arguably the most brutal form of trophy hunting, in which captive bred lions are shot by inexperienced hunters in an enclosed space. This, and other forms of trophy hunting, cause untold suffering to lions and have left the wild lion population endangered, which contradicts the view of hunters who claim that trophy hunting contributes to conservation. We believe most people in the UK agree that trophy hunting has no place in the modern world and we hope the British Government will take this opportunity to follow the example of the French and Australian governments, both of which have already announced bans.”
Virginia McKenna OBE, who will be the opening speaker at the protest march outside Downing Street, added: “The world has at last woken up to the tragedy facing Africa’s elephants and rhinos, but has been far too slow to realise the desperate plight of Africa’s lions. In my lifetime, the number of African lions has fallen from more than half a million to less than 20,000, and yet this iconic species continues to be hunted for trophies to put on walls or floors.
“Fifty years on from the release of the film Born Free – which did so much to inspire people around the world to celebrate the beauty and wonder of lions – time is running out for the species and they could become extinct in many parts of Africa within decades. If we are to protect their future, there can be no justification for the continued hunting of wild lions,” she added.
In 1980, more than 75,000 wild lions roamed the African continent, today it is estimated that less than 20,000 survive across just 8% of their historic range. The African lion faces a battle to survive on many fronts as a result of habitat loss, loss of natural prey largely due to poaching, and increased conflict with people and their livestock. In recent years, lions are believed to have disappeared completely from as many 16 African countries.
Despite this ecological tragedy, hundreds of wild lions continue to be killed by trophy hunters in Africa every year, with many of the heads and skins from these animals being imported to EU counties, including the UK.