I was saddened to read that the European Union’s (EU’s) Scientific Review Group (SRG) agreed on 15 September that lion trophies can still be brought into Europe from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, plus Zambia subject to approval on a case-by-case basis. This does not fill me with much hope that the EU’s SRG is going to do much to protect the dwindling population of African lions.
The EU became an accession member to CITES after Council Decision (EU) 2015/451 , was adopted on 6 March 2015, with the EU becoming a full party to CITES in July 2015. This means that any resolutions submitted to CITES are a matter of “EU competence” where consensus is now required by all of the EU’s 28 Member States.
However, this does not mean that Citizens and Residents of an EU Member State cannot lobby for their own government to suggest CITES resolutions for consideration of the EU’s 28 Member States.
On the EU Parliament level, we have an ally in the MEPs for Wildlife (MEPs4Wildlife), launched in March 2015 – The UK’s representation is led by Catherine Bearder MEP and Jacqueline Foster MEP.
This EU’s SRG’s decision on lion trophy imports into Europe needs to be urgently reviewed, as the breadth of the EU’s current prohibition is strongly disputed by amongst others, Catherine Bearder MEP and The Born Free Foundation.
No doubt, the appeal of the EU’s SRG’s 15 September 2015 decision of lion trophy imports into Europe and the EU’s CITES obligations will be discussed at the planned MEPs for Wildlife’s 20 October meeting (European Parliament) entitled “EU as new Party to CITES: implications, opportunities and priorities meeting.” International Wildlife Bond (IWB), The Born Free Foundation and others will be attending and duly reporting back.
IWB is continuing to campaign (IWB Petition) for the UK Government (via Defra) to submit CITES resolution proposal (to the EU) in anticipation of the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to CITES, 24 September to 5 October 2016.
The aim of IWB’s proposed CITES resolutions is to increase the protection (and send a clear message that the needless taking of species’ lives as trophies has to stop) of White and Black rhino, African lions and African elephants. But of course, many more species (such as the cheetah) also require similar help to support their population numbers in the wild.