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In Memory of Cecil the Lion


In Memory of Cecil the Lion

On the anniversary of his death, FOUR PAWS take stock of the trophy hunting situation


SYDNEY, 1 July 2016 - One year ago, on 1 July 2015, Cecil the Lion was killed by an American trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. The circumstances surrounding his death exposed the excesses of trophy hunting, and led to public outcry around the world. On this first anniversary, FOUR PAWS express their thanks to Cecil and all other victims of unscrupulous trophy hunting. Thomas Pietsch, wild animal expert at FOUR PAWS, explains, “The case of Cecil the Lion was one specific case that came to public attention and caused outrage. However, this tragedy should make us aware that Cecil was just one of many – he represents the innumerable lions killed every year by trophy hunters.”


For years now, FOUR PAWS have been fighting against the particularly cruel practice of “canned hunting” in South Africa. This brutal form of trophy hunting sees animals that are accustomed to humans given no chance to escape, as they are forced straight into the gun sights of high-paying hobby hunters. South African Government figures show that 6,000 – 10,000 lions are currently being bred on over 200 breeding stations, specifically for this type of hunting.


Until now, South Africa has not done anything to hinder this shameful practice. Even hunting permits are still not even required, meaning that hunters – who are often inexperienced – frequently have to shoot an animal several times to finish it off. This leads to a slow and agonising death. However, new restrictions on the import of trophies in several countries are making business increasingly difficult for the lion breeders.

Pietsch continues, “In certain areas, steps were already taken in the right direction, for example new import regulations, and a ban on transporting trophies on some airlines. Several hunting associations have also come out against canned hunting. But we certainly have a long way to go.”

Anyone wanting to help convince the South African Government to place a blanket ban on canned hunting can sign the FOUR PAWS petition here:


An overview of successful measures to protect lions in Africa:


  • Bans in Australia and France on importing lion trophies.
  • Ban in the Netherlands on importing trophies from lions and 200 other endangered species.
  • Stricter import requirements in the USA (the country with the most hunter-tourists): since January 2016, hunters wishing to import lion trophies must prove that the killing was necessary to protect lions living in the wild – which is in general very difficult to do. South African sources show that lion hunts involving hunters from the United States have decreased by 70 per cent.
  • Great Britain is threatening to ban imports from 2017 if the African countries of origin do not maintain their lion numbers more effectively.
  • Over 40 international airlines have banned or restricted the carrying of trophies.
  • The South African hunting association PHASA has taken a firm stand against lion breeders in the country, and has distanced itself from this cruel form of hunting.
  • Europe’s largest hunting fair, Germany’s “Jagd & Hund”, and the Austrian “Hohe Jagd & Fischerei” fair have undertaken to oppose canned hunting products and packages.
  • Several African states have committed to calling for Africa’s lions to be promoted to the highest level of protection (CITES Appendix 1) at the upcoming international World Wildlife Conference, to be held in Johannesburg in September 2016. However, it is still uncertain whether the application will achieve the necessary majority.