US restricts African lion trophies

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RESTRICTIONS imposed on imports of lion trophies from Africa to the United States will compound local safari operators’ woes, reeling from a 30% revenue loss last year, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

The US Fish and Wildlife Service imposed new restrictions on African lions harvested after January 22 2016 particularly lions from southern and eastern Africa.

Lions from southern and eastern African countries are considered “threatened with extinction”. Hunters from these areas cannot import a trophy into the US without first getting a US import permit, in addition to a Cites export permit.

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Before issuing permits for importation of trophies of lions in southern and eastern Africa, the US will have to make a determination that the hunting of the lion and the importation of the trophy into the US will “enhance the survival” of lions in the wild. Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe chairman Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest this week that the restrictions imposed on African lions from eastern and southern Africa were tantamount to a ban, adding this would discourage hunters from coming to Zimbabwe.

“The amount of restrictions is tantamount to a ban because of the cumbersome requirements which have alarmed our clients,” he said.

Fundira said this was another blow for the industry and a “dark cloud in the sky” following the ban of imported ivory by the US agency in April last year.

He said government needs to urgently engage the agency to avoid the issue being blown into a full blown crisis for the sector. Safari operations last year suffered a 30% reduction in revenue owing to among other things, the continued ban on ivory hunting and the killing of the famous lion, Cecil.

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