ROME—Today, in honoring World Wildlife Day, the Honorables Vittorio Ferraresi and Francesca Flati (M5S) presented a bill at the Chamber of Deputies to ban the import and export of hunting trophies of endangered species, the first of its kind in Italy. The bill was presented in partnership with Humane Society International with Martina Pluda, director of HSI in Italy, at the chamber for the occasion.
After close collaboration with key stakeholders, including HSI, Bill nr. 3430 would amend Law no. 150/1992, which regulates the trade of threatened and endangered species in Italy and will position Italy as a strong champion in the fight to protect global biodiversity and to institute sustainable, effective conservation initiatives for imperiled wildlife. This initiative follows the recent publication of HSI/Europe’s report: “Trophy Hunting by the Numbers: The European Union’s role in global trophy hunting” which highlights the European Union’s devastating contribution to the trophy hunting industry as the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies after the United States. The items being imported include trophies from threatened and endangered species.
The bill provides for:
- the ban on the import, export and re-export to and from Italy of hunting trophies of species protected under Annexes I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- a penalty, in case of violation of the prohibition, of up to three years in prison, a fine of up to 200,000 euros for primary violations, a fine of up to 300,000 euros in cases of recidivism, and confiscation of the hunting trophie(s).
From 2014 to 2018, the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species–with Italy importing 322 of the total trophies. Similar numbers were also confirmed from 2019-2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic; during this period, Italy imported 105 hunting trophies of 13 different mammal species protected under CITES, including threatened lions, endangered African elephants, and critically endangered black rhinos. From 2014-2018, Italy was the largest EU importer of 145 hippopotamus trophies, the fourth of wild African lion trophies and the fifth of African elephant trophies. Over 80% of the lion trophies imported to Italy over the period were bred in captivity or derived from “canned hunting” practices, a type of trophy hunting which involves shooting bred animals in enclosed spaces to guarantee a kill.
The importation of hunting trophies to Italy is currently legal despite the majority of Italians opposing hunting wild animals for the purpose of a trophy. In fact, according to the results of a recent survey by Savanta ComRes and commissioned by HSI/Europe, 86% of the Italians interviewed oppose the trophy hunting of all wild animals, and 74% are in favor of a ban on the import of hunting trophies to Italy.
The Honorable Vittorio Ferraresi, first signatory of the bill, said: “This bill aims to combat the killing of protected and endangered species that we may never see again, and the violence that is perpetrated against them. The protection of biodiversity is also an important factor in human survival and when it is undermined, the future and quality of life of future generations is at risk.”
The Honorable Francesca Flati stated: “Animals are not trophies to be exhibited, but living, sentient beings. With this bill we want to put an end to unregulated hunting. Let’s immediately stop the import and export of hunting trophies! With the 5 Star Movement we are in the front line and working to stop this despicable practice.”
Martina Pluda, director for Italy, Humane Society International, says: “With this bill we are giving Italy the opportunity to take the side of wildlife and their real protection. We urge Parliament to stop the practice of hunting protected animals for fun and importing them to Italy as macabre trophies, to be hung over a fireplace for boasting. It is a step that meets the favor of Italians who have demonstrated clear opposition to this elitist and anachronistic practice that has nothing to do with the conservation of species and biodiversity.”
Senator Gianluca Perilli, who in December 2021 promoted, together with other senators, an amendment to the Budget Law on the issue, expressed his support with the following statement: “Our commitment to protect animals and biodiversity goes beyond our national borders. With the approval of the constitutional reform, which introduces the protection of the environment, biodiversity and animals into the Constitution, we have taken a very important step for our society, but we are aware that other regulatory measures will have to follow. Banning the import and export of hunting trophies at international level means safeguarding those wild species threatened with extinction and protecting biodiversity.”
From Cape Town, Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa, points out: “Trophy hunting has been shown to have a detrimental impact on the conservation of wildlife. There are many ways that trophy hunting can negatively affect population dynamics such as low reproductive output, reduced offspring survival, lower adult survival and increased mortality rates in species such as lions, leopards and cougars to name but a few. In addition to this threat, trophy hunting does not support local communities, which continue to live in conditions of extreme poverty. Indeed, a study of eight African countries shows that while overall tourism is between 2.8% and 5.1% of the gross domestic product, the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is at most about 0.03% of GDP.”
“This bill represents a concrete political action to stop our country’s shameful involvement in an anachronistic and cruel practice that contributes to endangering the global survival of many wild species”, conclude Ferraresi, Flati and Pluda.
- Eva-Maria Heinen, communications and PR manager for Italy: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Martina Pluda, Italy country director: email@example.com; 371.4120885