‘Utilizing the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral.’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Israel has become the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur for frivolous fashion, effective 6 months from now, with a few exceptions. Humane Society International/UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, hopes Israel’s ban will inspire the British government to follow its lead and also ban fur sales, a move supported by 72% of Brits in recent YouGov and Yonder opinion polls. The UK was the first country in the world to ban the fur farming in 2003, but the import and sale of fur is still allowed. The UK government has launched a Call for Evidence to consider the case for a ban.

Israel’s ban allows exemptions for the use of fur in ‘scientific research, education or instruction, and for religious purposes or tradition.’ This would, for example, permit the sale of shtreimels—fur hats traditionally worn on Shabbat and holidays by Orthodox men. A similar exemption exists in the US state of California where fur sales were banned in 2019. HSI/UK believes a UK fur sales ban would mirror those exemptions, but nonetheless still end the suffering of millions of animals whose fur is imported to the UK from fur farms overseas.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This is a truly historic day for animal protection, with Israel becoming the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur fashion. Even with the exemption for traditional dress, without which this ban was unlikely to have succeeded, Israel’s fur ban will save the lives of millions of animals suffering on fur farms or languishing in cruel traps around the world, and it sends a clear message that fur is unethical, unnecessary and outdated. We now call on the British government to follow Israel’s compassionate lead and implement a UK fur import and sales ban once DEFRA’s Call for Evidence is completed. For as long as the UK remains open for business to sell fur that we deemed too cruel to farm here two decades ago, we are complicit in this cruelty.” 

Environmental protection minister, Gila Gamliel, passed the ban into law, and issued a statement after signing the regulations: “The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribable cruelty and suffering. Using the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral and is certainly unnecessary. Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them. Signing these regulations will make the Israeli fashion market more environmentally friendly and far kinder to animals.”

Jane Halevy, founder of the International Anti-Fur Coalition (IAFC) which has been working towards the ban for over a decade, said: “The IAFC has promoted a bill to ban the sale of fur in Israel since 2009, and we applaud the Israeli government for finally taking the historic leap towards making fur for fashion history. All animals suffer horrifically at the hands of this cruel and backwards industry. Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. Killing animals for fur should become illegal everywhere – it is high time that governments worldwide ban the sale of fur.”

Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the parliament in Estonia voted in favour of a fur farming ban, Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals including mink and foxes, in France politicians are currently debating a ban on mink fur farming and the Irish government has made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.

Views around fur have changed rapidly in recent years, with more and more fashion designers, including Gucci, Prada, Chanel, Burberry, Versace and Armani, adopting fur-free policies, and the majority of UK high street shops being proudly fur free. A 2020 YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by HSI/UK, also reveals that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK. A 2021 Yonder opinion poll confirmed that 72% of Brits would support a UK fur import and sales ban. Along with British citizens, animal protection groups, local celebrities, cross-party politicians, and even the former CEO of the British Fur Trade Association have pledged their support for a #FurFreeBritain.

In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals, as have cities in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

Download photos and video from HSI/UK’s latest investigation into a Finland fur farm


Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK media and campaigns manager: LRoode@hsi.org, +27713601104

Calls to tighten up EU wildlife trade rules and address pandemic risks welcomed

Humane Society International / Europe

Tikki Hywood Trust

BRUSSELS—The global decline in biodiversity poses a serious environmental threat and is also inextricably linked to climate change as well as the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Today the European Parliament adopted a robust report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which acknowledges that bold action is needed to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect and restore nature in the EU and beyond.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said:

“It is high time to re-evaluate our relationship with other animals and exploitation of the natural world. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call to humanity. This coronavirus is the latest in a long line of zoonotic diseases that have wreaked havoc with human health and society. The more we continue to exploit animals for food, fur and even our hobbies and encroach on and/or destroy animals’ natural habitats and lose biodiversity, the greater the opportunities for emerging infectious diseases to spread to human populations. HSI welcomes the Parliament’s report, which addresses many of our own key concerns, such as the need to tackle legal and illegal wildlife trade, marine species protection, achieving coexistence with large carnivores, and trade policy, and we urge the European Commission to act on MEPs recommendations to further strengthen its Biodiversity Strategy and take decisive action to protect nature.”

A very wide range of environmental issues were addressed in the report, but HSI would particularly like to applaud the Parliament’s:

  • Call for global EU leadership to end the commercial trade in endangered species and for the Commission to address both the legal and illegal wildlife trade in the review of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking;
  • Request that the Commission to consider adopting a moratorium on imports of wild animals from emerging infectious disease hotspots to minimise the risk of future pandemics;
  • Call for the delivery of a legislative proposal to prohibit the trade in wildlife species taken in violation of the laws of the country of origin since this would close the loopholes in the existing EU Wildlife Trade Regulations;
  • Call for the Commission to revise the Environmental Crime Directive and to recognise environmental crimes and offences, such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and wildlife crime, as serious criminal activities that should be adequately penalised with a strong deterrent effect, especially in the context of organised crime;
  • Request for the Commission to explore the possibility of adding a protocol on wildlife crime to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;
  • Expresses strong support for the global moratorium on commercial whaling and urging Norway and Japan to cease their whaling operations, in addition to calling for the EU and Member States to urge the International Whaling Commission to formally address Norway’s commercial whaling activities;
  • Observes that there are clear guidelines to implement preventative measures and compensation in regards to conflicts linked to the coexistence with large carnivores to ensure their protection under the EU Habitats Directive;
  • Acknowledgement that fur production significantly compromises animal welfare and increases their susceptibility to infectious diseases including zoonoses, as has occurred with COVID-19 in mink.

Regrettably, MEPs voted in favour of retrograde amendments that weakened robust language adopted by the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which:

  • Demanded a full and immediate EU ban on the trade, import export or re-export in the EU of all ivory;
  • Underlined the importance of facilitating the adoption of sustainable diets, including plant-based diets; recognising that animal agriculture can contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change;


  • The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 was adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 as a key element of the European Green Deal. It is a comprehensive long-term plan, which makes various commitments to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems.


Media contact: Dr Jo Swabe, Humane Society International: jswabe@hsi.org

While human lives and livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, COVID-19 has also compromised organisations that care for animals—including a sanctuary that cares for big cats saved from South Africa’s notorious captive lion breeding industry

Humane Society International / Africa

Panthera Africa Lioness Jade, who was rescued from the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa, now lives at Panthera Africa, an ethical big cat sanctuary in South Africa.

CAPE TOWN—As part of its global COVID-19 relief programme, Humane Society International is supporting an ethical big cat sanctuary in the Western Cape that cares for 26 big cats and other wild animals, including lions rescued from South Africa’s notorious captive lion breeding industry.

Panthera Africa, which counts itself as one of only six ethical big cat sanctuaries in South Africa, had derived much of its funding from paying, international volunteers and tourists, but this was abruptly stopped by COVID-imposed travel restrictions in 2020. The sanctuary’s volunteer and tourist activities were only able to resume recently and currently run at 28% capacity.

“Over a year into the pandemic organisations like Panthera Africa continue to face compromised funding, despite their continued best efforts,” said Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager. “No breeding, trade, physical interaction or petting takes place at this sanctuary, which is why it’s considered ethical. Thanks to HSI’s corporate and other supporters, we were able to help and we’re proud to be associated with Panthera Africa.”

Panthera Africa provides educational tours to members of the public, by appointment, but there is no physical contact with any of the resident big cats, which include lions, tigers, a ‘black panther,’ leopard, caracal and cheetah.

“We accepted the relief funds from HSI/Africa with much gratitude; we’re still trying to recover from the enormous financial pressure that COVID-19 has caused. But now we can celebrate the resumption of our volunteer and education programmes, the award of the HSI grant and the recent announcement that captive lion breeding will be banned,” said Panthera Africa co-founder, Lizaene Cornwall.

Cruel breeding farms

The High Level Advisory Panel appointed by the Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment recently released recommendations that include an end to captive lion breeding, its associated spin-off industries such as cub-petting and lion walking and the commercial trade of lion derivatives, as well as expressly recognizing animal welfare as a central pillar of wildlife management policy. These were key proposals made by HSI/Africa in comprehensive written and oral submissions to the panel, as well as in comments submitted during public participation processes in species-specific norms and standards development.

“HSI applauds the panel’s recommendation to end captive lion breeding. It puts a stop to these inhumane breeding farms and brings an end to the suffering of thousands of lions who have been awaiting their fate as either canned trophies or bags of bones for the legal lion bone trade,” added Gutierrez.

Lioness Jade is one of very few lions who was rescued from a captive lion breeding facility and now has safe sanctuary at Panthera Africa.

“When Jade came to us, her stomach and nipples were severely swollen after the excessive breeding she’d endured. She’d had seven litters in just three years—which was only possible because her cubs were taken away from her when they were only days old, forcing her to come into estrous again. Her back-to-back pregnancies, without time to heal, had caused Jade’s womb to attach to some of her other organs. Our vet had to cut the womb free in order to complete her spay,” explained Cornwall.

According to Panthera Africa, the instinct of a mother lioness is to protect and nurture her cubs for up to two years, and when this is denied time and time again—as it is in the captive breeding industry—the emotional and psychological impacts are substantial.

Download photos.


Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager: +27 72 358 9531; mgutierrez@hsi.org

Humane Society International / in Brazil


BRASILIA—The Brazilian Supreme Court yesterday upheld a Rio de Janeiro state law banning animal testing for cosmetics. The ruling was welcomed by animal protection NGO Humane Society International, which filed a legal brief in the court case and is the leading organization working to eliminate cosmetic animal testing worldwide in favor of modern, non-animal approaches to safety assessment.

The constitutionality of Rio de Janeiro State Law 7.814/2017, and a similar ban in Amazonas State, was challenged in 2018 by the Brazilian Association of Cosmetics, Personal Hygiene and Perfume Industry (ABIHPEC). Last year the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Amazonas state testing ban, upholding the state’s authority to prohibit such inhumane and unnecessary activity, and yesterday´s ruling reinforced this important decision.

The Court also held that the parts on the Rio de Janeiro state law banning sales of cosmetics tested on animals and requiring specific product labeling exceeded the state’s legislative competence. This holding underscores the importance of enacting acomprehensive federal ban on cosmetic animal testing and trade at the federal level in Brazil. Humane Society International is actively working on this national effort, which aligns with similar bans already in place in 40 countries. HSI’s work to secure 10 state-level testing bans in Brazil builds momentum to advance a federal bill, which has been languishing in the Senate for seven years.

As a result of HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign, which launched last month with support of superstar Rodrigo Santoro, more than 1.5 million Brazilians have signed the HSI-ONG Te Protejo petition calling for a federal cosmetic testing and sales ban in Brazil. The extraordinary virality of #SaveRalph and groundswell of public support has re-ignited federal political interest in this topic, with a Senate debate expected to take place in the coming weeks.

Antoniana Ottoni, Humane Society International federal affairs specialist for research & toxicology, said: “Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision confirms that state bans on cosmetic animal testing are indeed constitutional. As this outdated and inhumane practice is prohibited across the country, now is the time for the industry, lawmakers and the federal government to join together to advance a meaningful federal law to ban cosmetic animal testing and sales of cosmetics tested on animals across the whole of Brazil.”


  • Download today’s Supreme Court judgment.
  • The states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santa Catarina and Federal District have already banned cosmetic tests on animals. Together, these states host more than 70% of Brazil’s national cosmetic industry
  • Tests on animals are still recognized by National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA) guidelines to assess the dangers of cosmetic products and their ingredients. These include tests for eye and skin irritation (using rabbits), skin allergy (using mice or guinea pigs), general toxic effects (in which a cosmetic chemical is force-fed to rats in either a single massive dose or smaller daily doses for up to three months), or specific toxic concerns such as infertility (which use up to 2,600 rats and their offspring per test). Although some tests have been recently phased-out by the National Council for the Control of Animal Experiments, long-term animal tests are still allowed.
  • Forty countries have already enacted measures aligned with the objectives of the campaign, including the United Kingdom, European Union, Norway, Israel, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, Turkey, Guatemala, Australia, Iceland and Colombia. Similar legislation is being advanced by Humane Society International and our partners in Chile, Mexico, Canada, the United States, South Africa and the Association of South-East Asian Nations.
  • HSI’s campaign to ban cosmetic animal testing in Brazil has received the support of numerous influencers and celebrities, including Rodrigo Santoro, Fernanda Tavares, Ellen Jabour, Mylla Christie, Macris Carneiro, and Rita Von Hunty.


Media contact: Antoniana Ottoni: aottoni@hsi.org; +55 (61) 9 8140 3636

First Nations, animal protection groups, epidemiologists call on BC Government to Act with urgency

Humane Society International / Canada

Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals A male mink at a fur farm. 

VANCOUVER—In the wake of a 3rd outbreak of COVID-19 on a factory mink fur farm in British Columbia, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), concerned infectious disease specialists, the BC SPCA, the Fur-Bearers, and Humane Society International/Canada are calling on the BC Government to act now to end fur farming.

Over the past year, more than 400 outbreaks of COVID-19—and mutations of the virus—have occurred on factory fur farms globally, with many nations taking decisive action to stop fur farming in their jurisdictions.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated, “We are renewing our call for an end to fur farming in BC. This industry not only goes against Indigenous  values of wildlife stewardship and conservation, but also has proven to be an unmanageable threat to public health. The unnecessary and deeply troubling suffering minks are subjected to — lifelong confinement in cramped and filthy cages — only promotes the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections.”

Dr. Jan Hajek, infectious diseases specialist at Vancouver General Hospital stated: “Clearly the measures put in place by the BC Government have failed to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks on large mink breeding facilities. Given the very real threat of viral mutations and the transmission of virus between animals and people in these facilities, the BC Government should now act decisively, prohibit and end industrial fur farming in the interest of public health and animal welfare, and provide mink breeders with financial assistance and support to transition out of this industry.”

Dr. Sara Dubois, BC SPCA Chief Scientific Officer, said “Having been on BC fur farms and seen the conditions firsthand, I can attest that the practice is inherently inhumane and subjects animals wild in nature to treatment that no BC resident would tolerate. Fur farming exists in direct opposition to the values of British Columbians and the continuation of this industry would present unacceptable outcomes for both animals and people.”

Lesley Fox, executive director of the Fur-Bearers, said “Despite repeated calls for the BC Government to stop restocking of fur farms in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks, no action was taken. This latest outbreak is a direct consequence of government catering to industry interests at the expense animal welfare, public health, and the BC economy. The BC Government must act now to shut down this industry for good.”

Kelly Butler, HSI/Canada wildlife campaigner, stated “The world community is taking urgent action to end fur farming because it is inherently inhumane, environmentally destructive, and poses a grave public health risk. More than 20 countries have already stopped fur farming within their jurisdictions and the BC Government must follow the lead of these nations and end this cruel, high risk, outdated and needless industry.”


Dec. 2020: COVID outbreak occurs on a BC fur farm.

Dec. 2020: The Fur-Bearers, HSI/Canada, BC SPCA and infectious disease experts call on BC government to end fur farming.

Dec. 2020: COVID outbreak occurs on a second BC fur farm, at least 200 mink dead.

Jan. 2021: The Fur-Bearers, HSI/Canada, BC SPCA and infectious disease expert meet with BC Agriculture Minister and government officials and again call on BC government to end fur farming.

Jan. 2021: 1,000 mink culled on BC fur farm after outbreak.

Jan. 2021: David Suzuki and other scientists call for an end to fur farming in BC.

March 2021: Breeding resumes in BC despite previous COVID outbreaks.

April 2021: Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls for a moratorium on fur farming in the province.

April 2021: Infectious disease experts and BC doctors appeal to Ministry of Health about spillover risks.


  • Over 20 countries have stopped fur farming, including Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
  • British Columbia currently has 11 fur farms in operation. 10 mink farms, 1 chinchilla farm. All mink farms are located in the Fraser Valley.
  • Since 2014, British Columbians have provided at least $6.5 million dollars in subsidies through the AgriStability benefits to B.C. fur farmers.
  • A 2020 poll conducted by BC public opinion firm Research Co., found that 85% of the population of BC are opposed to killing animals for their fur.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE), and the Word Health Organization (WHO) published a risk assessment for fur farms: SARS-CoV-2 in animals used for fur farming: GLEWS+ risk assessment. The risk assessment identified Canada has having a “very likely” likelihood of introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within fur farms, and a “likely” likelihood of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from fur farms to susceptible wildlife populations.


Media contact: Michael Bernard, Deputy Director, HSI/Canada: 613.371.5170, mbernard@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Viet Nam

Hang Le/HSI

HO CHI MINH CITY—Fusion Hotel Group is partnering with Humane Society International, a global animal protection organization, to improve animal welfare in its supply chain. To do this, Fusion has committed to sourcing 100% cage-free eggs, both in shell and liquid forms, in its existing and future properties in Vietnam, and elsewhere.

Fusion, which launched its brand of wellness-focused hotels and resorts in 2008, is the only fully vertically integrated hospitality company in Southeast Asia. All of Fusion’s locations in Vietnam, in Da Nang, Cam Ranh, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon and Vung Tau, will start implementing the use of cage-free eggs by 2021 and to reach 100% by 2025.

With this commitment, Fusion Hotel Group becomes the first Vietnam-based hotel and resort company to join the international cage-free egg movement. Phuong Tham, HSI Vietnam country director, said: “We are delighted with Fusion’s commitment to a cage-free egg policy. We appreciate its desire to lead the way among hospitality companies to a higher standard of corporate-social responsibility for animal welfare in the country.”

HSI actively supports companies throughout South East Asia with the implementation of their animal welfare policies. This includes conducting workshops for a range of stakeholders. Fusion’s commitment reflects what previous workshop participants have stressed: The future is cage-free.

Samir Wildemann, Fusion’s vice president of operations, said: “We are proud of our commitment to corporate social responsibility and responsible consumption, which includes animal welfare in our supply chain. There is a growing demand for higher welfare and quality products, and cage-free eggs are a key example of humane and sustainable ingredients.”

Battery cage systems are infamous worldwide for confining hens in tiny spaces, no bigger than an A4-sized sheet of paper; hens in these systems cannot move freely or fully spread their wings. In Vietnam, the majority of egg-laying hens live in battery cages.

But there is progress being made around the world for egg-laying hens, as more corporations choose to emphasize animal welfare in their supply chains, which is good news for billions of these birds.


Media contacts:

Humane Society International / Italy


ROME—Iconic Italian fashion designer Valentino is the latest major fashion house to drop fur from its collections and shutting down its fur subsidiary, Valentino Polar. The company’s fur-free policy is part of its efforts to redefine and reinvigorate the brand, which will phase out fur by the end of the year.

Reported in Italian media agency ANSA, Valentino said: “The fur-free stance is perfectly in-line with the values of our company. We are moving full-steam ahead in the research for alternative materials in view of a greater attention to the environment for the upcoming collections.”

This announcement comes as the UK government is considering making Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. The push for a ban comes now that the UK has left the single market, and just two months after British design house Alexander McQueen and Spanish designer Balenciaga declared a fur-free policy. Valentino joins a rapidly expanding group of fashion designers dropping fur, including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.

Humane Society International, which together with the Humane Society of the United States met with Valentino in 2019 to discuss its fur policy, welcomes the announcement:

Martina Pluda, director of Humane Society International/Italy, said: “Valentino dropping fur is a major nail in the coffin for the cruel fur trade. Like so many other designers, Valentino knows that using fur makes brands look outdated and out of touch, and fur industry certification schemes are little more that the hollow PR spin of an industry that kills 100 million animals for fur a year. Compassion and sustainability are the new luxury in a world where dressing in the fur of factory farmed foxes or gassed mink is tasteless and cruel. As the UK government considers a ban on fur imports and sales, and countries such as Italy are urged to ban fur farming, the world’s top designers are leading the charge with fur-free fashion.”


  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003.
  • In 2019, California became the first US state to ban fur sales following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, revealed that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK. The poll also demonstrates Brits’ scathing view of fur – the words that people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical,’ ‘outdated,’ ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch.’


Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org


2020 YouGov poll: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,682 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 5th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Humane Society International / China

Brussels is putting business before science and conservation, say leading wildlife groups

Humane Society International / Europe

Wildestanimal/Alamy Stock Photo Shortfin mako shark

BRUSSELS—The European Union must stop allowing the fishing industry to keep and profit from endangered shortfin mako sharks ‘accidentally’ caught in the North Atlantic, or risk the species going extinct, warn leading animal protection groups Pro Wildlife, Humane Society International/Europe, and Sharkproject. While scientists, NGOs, and the EU’s environmental authorities agree that a mako shark retention ban is needed, the EU’s Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DG MARE) is still pushing for a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quota of 500 tonnes for mako sharks in the North Atlantic. During a virtual webinar – hosted by Portuguese MEP Francisco Guerreiro (Greens/EFA) – the NGOs expressed their disappointment at the EU’s unwillingness to place scientific advice for shark conservation over the business interests of the fishing industry.

Dr Ralf Sonntag, marine expert at Pro Wildlife, stated “Time is running out for the mako shark, so the EU needs to act now, otherwise it risks further declines of an already endangered top predator that is essential for healthy oceans. The science is clear, only an immediate retention ban in the North Atlantic will give makos the chance to continue playing their crucial role in the marine ecosystem. In the South Atlantic, the situation is not yet as critical as it is in the North, but will probably end up following a similar trajectory if overfishing continues.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, added: “If fishing boats continue to be allowed to keep and profit from selling endangered mako sharks accidentally caught in their nets, all incentives for them to avoid this bycatch in the first place are removed. Not only is DG MARE’s position counterproductive, but it also risks undermining the Commission’s EU Biodiversity Strategy, which represents a binding political commitment to protecting and restoring biodiversity, including the protection of marine species. If the EU wants to demonstrate global leadership on biodiversity protection, it needs to ensure policy coherence. The EU cannot continue with business as usual ignoring scientific advice when species are threatened with extinction.”

Dr Iris Ziegler, head of international cooperation at Sharkproject, warns: “Even at zero catch it will take probably 50 years for this overfished stock to recover. Mako sharks are highly developed, late maturing sharks, with slow reproduction rates and are therefore especially vulnerable to overfishing. However, fishermen value the bycatch of mako sharks for the market value of their meat and fins and are therefore opposing a retention ban. For the industry, economic interests are clearly more important than conservation of biodiversity.”

The Intersessional meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which is also responsible for the ‘sustainable’ management of Atlantic sharks, will take place from 6th to 8th July 2021. In recent years, Brussels has blocked proposals from Canada, Senegal, and other Contracting Parties for a retention ban for makos in the North Atlantic. In so doing, the EU has consistently ignored the advice from ICCAT’s scientific body, the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics, for a retention ban without exceptions.

Fast facts:

  • Shortfin mako sharks are globally endangered, and in the Mediterranean Sea they are even critically endangered.
  • Given their threatened status and overexploitation, mako sharks were listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2019.
  • International trade and introduction from the sea are now only permitted if a so-called Non-Detriment-Finding (NDF) ensures sustainable offtakes.
  • In December 2020, the CITES Scientific Authorities of the EU stated a negative opinion for NDF for makos from the North Atlantic.
  • Spain and Portugal, the biggest fishing nations within the EU, responded to the decision by issuing a landing ban for makos from the high sea, and Spain even from national waters. Nevertheless, DG MARE continues to insist on a TAC at ICCAT and a share of 288 tonnes for EU fleets.
  • With swim speeds of more than 70 km/h, makos are the world’s fastest sharks in the high seas. As apex predators, they play a key role in marine ecosystems and the conservation of marine biodiversity. Their extinction could have massive consequences, not just in the Atlantic.

View a recording of the webinar.


Media contacts:

Humane Society International / South Africa

Maggy Meyer/iStock

CAPE TOWN—The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has released the recommendations of the Ministerial High Level Advisory Panel (the Panel) appointed in November 2019 to review existing policies, legislation and practices relating to the handling, breeding, hunting and trade of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

The Panel’s recommendations include a number of positive commitments, including ending the practice of captive lion breeding and the commercial trade of lion derivatives, as well as expressly recognising animal welfare as a central pillar of wildlife management policy. These were key proposals made by Humane Society International/Africa, in comprehensive written and oral submissions to the Panel, as well as comments submitted during public participation processes in species-specific Norms and Standards development.

Captive lion breeding

“Today is a massive celebration for South African lions with the government adopting recommendations to end the abhorrent captive lion breeding industry. Lions will no longer have to suffer in horrid conditions for someone’s selfie, canned trophy or have their body parts harvested for wines and powders,” said Humane Society International/Africa wildlife director, Dr Audrey Delsink.

The new policy is welcome and will be supported by most South Africans, according to HSI/Africa, which in 2020 commissioned an independent national public opinion poll on trophy hunting, captive lion breeding and associated industries. The majority of South Africans polled oppose the breeding of lion cubs for two infamous tourist activities—cub petting and lion-walking. These activities are also linked to canned hunting and the lion bone trade.

According to the organisation, South Africa is the top exporter of lion trophies in the world—and most of these are lions who originate from the country’s notorious captive lion breeding industry. An HSI analysis of trade data of mammal species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) between 2014 and 2018 found that 4,176 lion trophies were exported from South Africa (as well as 25 captive-source tiger trophies).

“We applaud the decision to end captive lion breeding and will study the other recommendations comprehensively to consider all details. We are also pleased that animal welfare considerations are now expressly recognised as a central pillar of wildlife management policy.

“Considerations of animal sentience and welfare are key to wildlife policy decisions. This was one of the main elements in HSI/Africa’s comprehensive submission to the Panel, and also forms part of all of our submissions in the development of Norms and Standards for the different species,” added Delsink.

Trophy hunting

HSI/Africa remains concerned about the centrality of trophy hunting in South Africa’s wildlife sector and the ongoing focus on generating revenue through hunting the country’s iconic species.

“We are mindful of the need to alleviate poverty through economic development in the biodiversity sector. However, after the mass of scientific evidence that was put before the Panel by HSI/Africa and other organisations regarding the harmful consumptive use of imperiled species, we are concerned that the Panel’s recommendations envisage an expansion of trophy hunting,” said Delsink.

“Our independent national survey revealed that 64% of South Africans share this concern and oppose trophy hunting. The poll results were consistent regardless of race, gender, age and income,” said Delsink.

The CITES trade data analysis between 2014 and 2018 showed that South Africa exported 574 African leopard trophies—with 98% of those wild sourced and 2% bred in captivity. In addition, 1,337 African elephant trophies and 21 black rhino trophies were also exported.

“Despite these ongoing concerns regarding trophy hunting as opposed to non-consumptive wildlife uses, today marks an important step in transforming and reframing South Africa’s wildlife policy. We welcome the department’s policy paper on the recommendations for public comments and their expressed commitment to inclusive and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders, and look forward to engaging further,” concluded Delsink.


Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa, media and communications manager: +27 72 358 9531; mgutierrez@hsi.org