In the last ten years, American hunters have imported more than 1.2 million animals, more than 126,000 a year, as hunting trophies from across the world, according to a new report by Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States.
The report, Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: the United States’ Role in Global Trophy Hunting, uses original analysis of hunting trophy import data obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Among its findings include:
- Trophies are primarily imported from Canada and South Africa. They are followed by Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Tanzania,
Argentina, Zambia and Botswana.
- The species most favored by trophy hunters include: American black bears, impalas, common wildebeests, greater kudus, gemsboks, springboks and bonteboks.
- Trophy hunters highly covet the African big five, importing them to the U.S. in staggering numbers between 2005 and 2014: 5,600 African lions, 4,600 African elephants, 4,500 African leopards, 330 southern white rhinos, and 17,200 African buffalo. All of these species, except the African buffalo, are near threatened or vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- The U.S. ports of entry importing the most wildlife trophies during the decade were: New York, New York; Pembina, North Dakota; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Portal, North Dakota.
“This report clearly shows the dire impact American trophy hunters are having on wildlife in other countries. It’s outrageous that every year hunters take the lives of thousands of animals, many threatened with extinction, just to win a prize and show off,” said Teresa M. Telecky, director of the wildlife department at HSI. “The fact that rare, majestic species are entering the U.S. in large and small ports of entry should alarm lawmakers and the public concerned about trophy hunting.”
Competitive hunting groups promote these hunts, offering accolades and awards to its members. The largest such group, Safari Club International, just wrapped up its convention in Las Vegas where more than 300 mammal hunts for more than 600 animals were auctioned off, and countless other hunts arranged privately on the exhibit floor. SCI often uses these proceeds to fight wildlife protection measures. For certain species, including lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos, the U.S. is the largest trophy importing country.
As one way of preventing disastrous consequences of trophy hunting, HSI and The HSUS will continue to seek new protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act for species that meet the criteria for listing. The African lion is the latest species to receive ESA protection after a multi-year effort by animal protection organizations.