Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Urges Trump to Keep Ban on African Lion Trophies

Dec 4, 2017
Press Release
Today is 5th Anniversary of Wildlife Conservation Day

Lions Face Extinction As Habitat & Prey Shrink

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today called on President Trump to reject the Interior secretary’s decision to lift a ban on allowing African lion trophies to be brought into the United States. 

Buchanan, noting today is the fifth anniversary of wildlife conservation day, said the African lion is one of the most endangered animals in the world and faces extinction in our lifetime. Fewer than 20,000 are alive today.

“Allowing lion heads to be brought into the U.S. as trophies will only encourage the slaughter of these magnificent animals,” Buchanan said.

In October, the Interior Department quietly instituted a new policy permitting the importation of lion heads and hides into the country, overturning a ban that had been in place since Jan. 2016. While receiving little public attention, the decision preceded another by the administration just last month allowing African elephant trophies to be brought into the U.S. That decision, however, was put on hold by President Trump, who has indicated he intends to uphold the ban.

Buchanan said Trump should do the same regarding the lion, which has disappeared from 12 African countries in recent decades. “President Trump should reverse his Interior secretary’s decision and keep the ban on African lion trophies,” the congressman said.

African lions are protected by the Endangered Species Act and far fewer remain than African elephants. The lion population has plummeted 42 percent in the past 20 years, according to the African Wildlife Foundation.

Prior to the Trump Administration decision, hunters were only permitted to import trophies of wild lions and lions that were killed on managed lands in South Africa. The latest decision allows people to bring back lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia as well. 

In 2012, the U.S. State Dept. designated Dec. 4 as Wildlife Conservation Day in response to growing concern about illegal trafficking in wildlife. The purpose of Wildlife Conservation Day is to draw attention to the staggering size of the global black market in wildlife, which rivals the illicit trade in guns and drugs. 

Buchanan is the co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus, a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress dedicated to preventing animal cruelty, protecting endangered species and advancing animal welfare policies.