World leaders urged to end fur trade ticking time bomb

Humane Society International / Europe

G20 fur signatures handin
Martina Pluda/HSI

ROME—Ahead of the G20 meeting this month in Rome, a petition of almost 900,000 signatures gathered by the Fur Free Alliance urging world leaders to permanently end fur farming to prevent continued outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 as well as protect against future zoonotic pandemics has been submitted. G20 leaders have also received a letter from the global coalition of animal NGOs, urging action. The petition and letters come in the wake of 446 outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 on mink fur farms in the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Spain, Sweden, France, Italy, Latvia, the United States and Canada, with the most recent outbreak in Spain this week.

A growing number of experts express grave concerns about the human health risks of the fur trade. In its report last November, the European Centre for Disease Control warned that the evolution of the virus in mink could undermine the effectiveness of vaccines in humans, and that “continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern.” In June this year, 67 virologists, epidemiologists, infectious disease specialists, veterinarians and animal behaviourists from across the globe called for action to end fur farming, and the World Organisation for Animal Health’s ad hoc Group on COVID-19 and Safe Trade in Animals and Animal Products has concluded that raw mink skins cannot be considered a safe commodity for international trade.

Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International, says: “Governments cannot respond to the COVID-19 crisis on mink fur farms simply by monitoring outbreaks and allowing fur farmers to continue business as usual. The appalling conditions on fur farms make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. Disease transmission experts warn that it is a matter of when, and not if, another deadly virus hits if we continue to keep animals in these unnatural and horrific conditions. Now, hundreds of thousands of global citizens are also urging G20 leaders to publicly acknowledge that fur farming must end.”

Fourteen countries including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hungary and Lithuania have already acted to ban fur farming, and the practice is currently suspended in Denmark, Italy and Sweden. However, many countries across Europe, China, Russia and North America continue to intensively rear tens of millions of fox, mink and raccoon dogs, all of which are species susceptible to coronaviruses. For the sake of fur fashion, these animals spend their entire lives confined to tiny, barren, wire cages that not only cause immense suffering, but also present a serious public-health risk. The cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries, disease, minimal veterinary care and lack of genetic diversity all mean that fur farms create ideal conditions for viruses to be transmitted and to mutate, creating new strains.

Rare but concerning cases of animal-to-human disease transmission have been documented. Research in the Netherlands using whole genome sequencing revealed that at least 66 people working on mink fur farms became infected with SARS-CoV-2, and the preliminary report of an outbreak of SARS- CoV-2 in mink and mink farmers in Denmark, published in February 2021, researchers concluded that 19% of people identified as being connected to mink farms became infected, with approximately 4,000 human cases estimated to be infected with a mink variant.

Download Photos/Video of Undercover Investigation at a Chinese Fur Farm

Download Photos/Video of Undercover Investigation at a Finnish Fur Farm


  • Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been documented on 446 mink fur farms in 12 different countries in Europe and North America since April 2020, including Canada (three farms), Denmark (290 farms), France (one farm), Greece (25 farms), Italy (two farms), Latvia (one farm), Lithuania (four farms), Netherlands (69 farms), Poland (three farm), Spain (17 farms), Sweden (14 farms) and the United States (17 farms).
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide, on fur farms and trapped in the wild—that’s equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. France, the Republic of Ireland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Spain and Ukraine are also considering bans on fur farming.
  • Earlier this year Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. 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. The towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts and the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan have also recently banned fur sales, and more US cities and states are looking to follow suit.

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins:

Historic prosecution comes after police intercepted truck with 78 dogs

Humane Society International

Dog Meat Free Indonesia

Kulon Progo, INDONESIA—A dog meat trader in Indonesia has been found guilty of breaking the law and sentenced to a 10 month jail term and $USD10,000 fine (150 million IDR) in the country’s first ever dog meat prosecution. The trader was caught by Kulon Progo District Police in May this year, transporting 78 dogs in the back of a truck. Only 62 dogs survived the ordeal. The dogs were trafficked from Garut in West Java, via Kulon Progo and headed for slaughter for human consumption throughout Central Java. The interception comes after years of campaigning by the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, of which Humane Society International is a founding member. The coalition hopes this prosecution will send a strong signal to traders across Indonesia that the dog meat business is illegal and will be punished. DMFI is pushing for an explicit nationwide ban on the brutal trade.

The dogs in this case had all been stolen from the streets where pet dogs freely roam. Many were still wearing collars whilst bound on the truck to be transported on a gruelling journey lasting more than 10 hours. The trader was found guilty of violating Article 89 paragraph 2 in conjunction with Article 46 paragraph 5 of Law N0. 41 of 2014, concerning Animal Husbandry and Health because the truck illegally crossed provincial borders, with no record of the animals’ disease or vaccination status.

The Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition has conducted numerous investigations since 2016, exposing the brutal reality of the trade in dogs destined for human consumption. Every month, tens of thousands of these dogs are taken from the streets and illegally transported in many parts of Indonesia. Many die during this horrific journey from heatstroke, dehydration or injuries inflicted during capture and transport. Those who survive are taken to slaughterhouses where they are beaten and strung upside down to bleed out while still conscious or beaten to death in public markets in some parts of the country, in full view of other terrified dogs who await their turn.

Bali-based Lola Webber, who is End Dog Meat campaign director for DMFI member group Humane Society International, welcomed the news: “This verdict sends a strong message to dog meat traders that this brutal trade is illegal and won’t be tolerated in Indonesia. Ultimately we want to see an enforced nationwide ban on Indonesia’s dog meat trade, but in the meantime this prosecution will also hopefully encourage the authorities in other provinces to use existing laws at their disposal to crack down on dog meat traders who continue to operate in their jurisdictions. There is no excuse for tolerating this illegal cruelty or the dangers the trade pose to public health and safety.

As well as being unspeakably brutal, it’s easy to see how this trade is the perfect breeding ground for the next serious public health disaster. Dogs are routinely slaughtered in public alongside all manner of wild and domestic species in markets in North Sulawesi. New pathogens could easily jump to humans if a dog trader was wounded during the day’s slaughter, a local consumer ate cross-contaminated dog meat bought at a nearby stall, or a tourist breathed in microscopic blood droplets as they sight-see the markets. In the face of such an obvious public health and animal welfare risk, we hope this will be the first of many prosecutions. We cannot allow the dog meat trade to thrive across Asia if we hope to protect the public from future pandemics.”

Dog meat trade facts:

  • Opinion polls show that only a small minority of Indonesia’s population (4.5%) consume dog meat and only a very small number of those involved in the trade consider dog meat to be their main source of income.
  • Rabies is a grave concern in Indonesia, with just eight out of 34 provinces declared rabies-free. Cities in Central Java such as Surakarta (“Solo”) where > 13,700 dogs are slaughtered and sold in dozens of local restaurants each month, are jeopardising their rabies-free status by allowing dogs of unknown disease and vaccination status to be imported from surrounding provinces to supply dog meat, despite opinion polls showing just 3% of Central Javans consume it.
  • The illegal movement of large numbers of dogs of unknown disease status into densely populated areas contravenes rabies control recommendations by leading human and animal health experts including the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as national disease prevention legislation.
  • There are widely publicised reports directly linking the dog meat trade to rabies transmission in many parts of Asia where the dog meat trade operates, including Indonesia. Scientific reports have documented rabies-positive dogs being sold and slaughtered in markets in Indonesia, as well as in restaurants and slaughterhouses in China and Viet Nam.
  • Dog theft for the meat trade is a serious problem in Indonesia. Dog Meat Free Indonesia has interviewed many residents who have described their terrifying ordeal with armed traders stealing their pets at night. Despite the obvious law-breaking, thefts are rarely taken seriously by law enforcement, so the thieves go unpunished.
  • Across Asia, opposition to the dog and cat meat trades is increasing, with an ever-growing number of countries and territories (Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and two major cities in mainland China) banning the trade in and slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs; and in Indonesia, regencies and cities such as Karanganyar, Salatiga and Sukoharjo have already passed explicit bans in their jurisdictions amidst concerns for animal welfare and public health and safety.
  • The Dog Meat Free Indonesia campaign has received support from global and Indonesian superstars including a letter to President Joko Widodo in 2018 calling for action to end the country’s dog and cat meat trades signed by Simon Cowell, Sophia Latjuba, Yeslin Wang, Nadia Mulya, Lawrence Enzela, Cameron Diaz, Chelsea Islan, Ellen DeGeneres and Pierce Brosnan.

Download Video of Solo Investigations  

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Media Contacts:

  • Lola Webber, Humane Society International, Dog Meat Free Indonesia international coordinator: +6281337408768;
  • Karin Franken, national coordinator Dog Meat Free Indonesia Coalition: +628212287794;

Humane Society International / Europe

HSI Ralph, spokes-bunny for HSI’s global campaign to ban cosmetic testing on animals

In the face of mounting testing demands by European chemical authorities that could come at a devastating cost to animals in laboratories, viral sensation Ralph, spokes-bunny for Humane Society International, has arrived in Europe to rally citizens around a vision of #SafetyWithoutSuffering. Ralph gives voice to HSI’s position that chemical safety and animal welfare are not mutually exclusive, rather the two advance together by embracing modern non-animal tools that are better at modelling human physiology than 60- to 80-year-old tests on rabbits and rodents.

Save Ralphis an award-winning mockumentary that follows the daily routine of a “tester” named Ralph, using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of all animals in toxicology laboratories. While Ralph is animated, the suffering that animals like him are enduring right now across Europe as a result of government-required chemical testing is all too real. In fact, the European Chemicals Agency is even requesting new animal tests for substances used only in cosmetics, in blatant disregard for the European Union’s longstanding ban on animal testing for cosmetics. Watch the video.

Troy Seidle, Humane Society International’s vice president for research and toxicology, says: “Ralph’s story is a sobering reminder that the fight to end animal testing is still far from over, and even in the EU, celebrated victories like the cosmetics animal testing ban are at risk of being undone by chemical regulators’ addiction to animal testing data. It’s also disheartening to see the European Green Deal used to greenwash proposals to expand animal testing requirements when it’s clear that state-of-the-art non-animal approaches are more likely to deliver real progress for people, animals and our planet.”

Ralph’s arrival comes on the heels of a nearly unanimous resolution by the European Parliament calling for an ambitious and comprehensive European Commission action plan to fully transition the EU away from animal use in testing, research and education. Such a plan is urgently needed to elevate the goal of replacing animal use and ensure it is applied consistently across a wide range of EU legal and funding instruments, including regulations governing chemicals, cosmetics and hazard labelling. Earlier this week, ECHA Director Bjorn Hansen stated before the Parliament that, “It’s a total win-win-win-win situation for all parties involved if we would be able to move away from animal tests. It would mean that we would be able to get results about the undesirable effects of chemicals much faster.”

Humane Society International invites EU citizens who are moved by Ralph’s story, and who wish to see the Green Deal implemented in a way that doesn’t harm millions of animals, to join its #SafetyWithoutSuffering campaign.

Fast facts:

  • The EU’s chemicals law “REACH” imposes a rigid checklist of testing requirements, many of which involve force-feeding or otherwise exposing rodents, fish or other animals to unrealistic doses of a chemical for periods of one week to two years, without any pain relief. Some of the required experiments consume between 1,300 and 2,600 animals per chemical tested.
  • A recent analysis found that 63 REACH-registered chemicals used only in cosmetics were subject to 104 new animal tests after the EU Cosmetic Regulation bans came into force. HSI estimates that these tests may have subjected upwards of 25,000 rabbits, mice, rats and other animals to a combination of eye and skin irritation, skin allergy, acute lethal poisoning, reproductive and developmental toxicity, and other tests. If the EU’s approach does not evolve, the number of animals who could be subject to new testing for the additional 3,206 REACH-registered chemicals with cosmetics and other uses could soar into the hundreds of thousands.
  • HSI’s “Save Ralph” film features an all-star international cast including Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others. Within weeks of its April 2021 launch, “Save Ralph” went viral worldwide, with more than 150 million social media views, over 740 million tags on TikTok, and nearly five million signatures on HSI petitions.

“Save Ralph” has been selected in more than one dozen film festivals in Europe and across the world, including four Oscar-qualifiers, and has received multiple accolades. “Save Ralph” was recently awarded best animated film at the Roma Creative Contest.


Media Contact: Yavor Gechev:

Humane Society International / Africa


A weighty 75,504 global citizens (including at least 9,011 voices from South Africa) are calling on Minister Barbara Creecy and her Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) to implement the New Deal for People and Wildlife, as outlined in the draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros, without further delay.

On 2 May 2021, Minister Creecy announced her proposal to adopt the vision outlined in the High-Level Panel’s report and its associated goals and recommendations, including the courageous step towards bringing an end to the commercial captive lion industry in South Africa.

In a submission to an extended call for comments on the draft Policy Position document, thousands of South Africans, voices from the African continent and beyond expressed their collective concern about the fate of South Africa’s biodiversity and iconic wildlife, and their support for the visionary draft Policy Position that seeks to redefine South Africa’s relationship with its wildlife.

The public are now asking the Minister to follow through on her promises and set ambitious and urgent time frames for the forward-looking goals outlined in the policy document, including:

  • To immediately halt the domestication and exploitation of lion, and the closure of captive lion facilities.
  • To reverse the domestication and intensification of management of rhino. To prohibit ivory and rhino horn trade under current conditions.
  • To restrict ex situ live export of the iconic species.
  • To implement an increased wildness, naturalness and wellbeing of fauna focus. To adopt the One Welfare approach.
  • To embrace a transformative African approach to conservation and ecologically sustainable use, consistent with Ubuntu.

These progressive and ambitious goals proposed by the Minister and DFFE are supported by many organisations, including Blood Lions, Humane Society International – Africa, World Animal Protection, Born Free Foundation, and FOUR PAWS South Africa. These five animal welfare organisations commend the Minister for such a progressive conservation policy and urge her to finalise the policy in order to implement the proposed changes.

These shifts in policy will not only signify a New Deal for people and wildlife, but also position South Africa as a global conservation leader and destination of choice for nature-based tourism, a key future driver of our economy and rural socio-economic development.

The draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros was developed after a year-long consultation process by the High-Level Panel, established by the Minister, and their recommendations in a 600-page Ministerial report.

The finalisation of the draft Policy Position document is vital to put the necessary processes in place to achieve this new vision and goals in the interest of South Africa, all of her people and its wildlife.

Petition links: and Care2 Petitions

Quotes from organisations involved:

Dr. Louise de Waal, Campaign Manager & Director, Blood Lions

“The Blood Lions film and global campaign was launched in 2015 and has worked tirelessly to end this cruel and unethical industry and its spin-off activities. We commend the Minister in her decisive leadership to bringing an end to the commercial captive lion breeding industry. However, the welfare of the predators involved in this exploitative industry hangs in the balance and thus swift and adequate action from DFFE and the Minister is required to start implementing a responsible phase out process. In this process, we hope that the Minister will afford all other indigenous and exotic big cats the same fate as she promised for our captive lions.”

Dr Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director, HSI-Africa

“Tens of thousands of people locally and internationally support our call on Minister Creecy to act now. With One Welfare and wellbeing at the core of this transformative environmental policy, an end to intensive management and the exploitative use of animals may materialise. We urge the Minister to act swiftly to prevent further unnecessary cruelty during the implementation process, particularly for captive bred lions, who cannot remain in limbo during this interim stage towards reform. We stand ready to support the minister and her department during this critical process.”

Fiona Miles, Director, FOUR PAWS South Africa

“FOUR PAWS in South Africa is in full support of the Government’s decision to undertake the progressive resolutions set out within its Draft Policy Paper on the management of five of the country’s iconic wildlife species. We believe the decision to end the captive lion breeding industry is truly pivotal and will change the future of the tens of thousands of lions that are currently being exploited. It is estimated up to 12,000 lions currently suffer across the country, where they are used for tourism purposes, such as bottle feeding, cub petting, walk with activities, trophy hunting and finally, their bones used in international wildlife trade markets. The end of this industry is something FOUR PAWS has been campaigning towards for 15 years and we are at Minister Creecy and her Department’s disposal, to ensure the decisions are implemented efficiently and effectively. We urge the Government to take the necessary action swiftly, in order to prevent further suffering.”

Edith Kabesiime, Wildlife Campaign Manager, World Animal Protection Africa

“World Animal Protection and Blood Lions together with many other stakeholders in the animal welfare and conservation sectors made a wealth of compelling science-based evidence available to the High-Level Panel in written and oral submissions in 2020. World Animal Protection continues to applaud Minister Barbara Creecy for her leadership and the bold steps so far taken, as part of the process to close down the commercial captive lion breeding industry. We would like to assure the Minister and DFFE that World Animal Protection remains committed and is ready to offer expertise to find practical solutions on how to phase out this industry completely. We should not allow the few individuals profiting from this cruel industry to win. Wild animals have a right to a wild life.”

Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy, Born Free Foundation.

“Since our inception we have sought to highlight the devastating consequences of the exploitation of wild animals for trade, hunting and other destructive purposes. We have also advocated for many years for an end to the commercial lion breeding industry in South Africa, which currently exploits thousands of lions and other captive-bred predators for tourism activities such as cub petting and walking with lions, canned hunting, and the sale of bones and other products into international markets. The progressive reforms proposed by Minister Creecy have the potential to transform South Africa’s relationship with wild animals, and place it at the forefront of regional and international wildlife protection efforts for the good of all. It is vital that they are implemented in full and without delay. We stand ready to work with the South African authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that the reforms are successfully implemented and the objectives achieved, with full regard for animal welfare, and for the benefit of wildlife and wider biodiversity, as well as for the people of South Africa.”


Media Contacts:

  • Humane Society International: Marisol Gutierrez:
  • Blood Lions: Dr Louise de Waal:; (+27) 076 148 1533

Humane Society International / Europe

Convince the European Commission to turn political promises into meaningful change for animals.

Humane Society International / South Korea

Support legislation to advance science without suffering in South Korea

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Humane Society International/India’s program delivers rabies protection to communities, dogs and wildlife

Humane Society International / India


DHARWAD—Veterinarians from Humane Society International/India went door-to-door in the remote villages of Dori and  Dopenatti in Dharwad, southwest India for World Rabies Day, giving free anti-rabies vaccinations to owned, yet free-ranging dogs as part of a regionalised drive to better protect both people and animals. Arriving in HSI/India’s Mobile Animal Clinic (a truck converted into a veterinary clinic on wheels) and armed with cell phones to create a medical record and track every vaccinated dog with high-tech accuracy, the vets hope to vaccinate at least 70% of the local dog population, a minimum needed for herd immunity. HSI/India teamed up with government vets from the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Department to roll out the vaccinations.  

India has around 20,000 human rabies deaths a year, accounting for nearly 40% of the worldwide death toll. Virtually all cases in India are linked to dog bites, so a three-pronged solution is vaccinating dogs, raising awareness in people on responsible canine care giving, and humanely reducing the roaming dog population.  Since 2013 HSI/India has vaccinated and sterilised nearly 400,000 dogs and cats across India, and more than 1 million street dogs globally as part of its campaign to help communities reduce and care for roaming dogs and provide a humane alternative to cruel dog culls.   

Dori and Dopenatti border a forest reserve and it’s not unusual for the community’s 80 or so dogs to wander into the forest. Nearly all dogs in the villages are owned by people but are entirely free-ranging. That presents the dual risk of unvaccinated dogs infecting wildlife with rabies, or acting as vectors and bringing back pathogens to the community. The rabies drive safeguards the community, wild animals around it and its dogs.   

Dr. Vineeta Poojary, HSI/India’s veterinary sciences manager, says: One of the primary drivers of deliberate cruelty faced by street or community dogs is the fear of being bitten and of contracting rabies. Roughly 20,000 people a year die of rabies in India, and most rabies cases in humans are the result of a dog bite, so by protecting the health of the dogs with a simple vaccine, we are protecting these communities at the same time. The biggest challenge though is in making communities aware of the need to vaccinate their dogs.  

When we first vaccinated dogs in Dori last year, vaccination was a totally alien concept to this community and there was considerable scepticism. But now that they understand the importance of the rabies vaccine and have seen that their dogs are unharmed by it, their hesitancy has reduced significantly. Community buy-in is absolutely essential for rabies programs to work, which is why we focus so much on community engagement and education. Efforts such as these serve as the foundation to build long-term disease monitoring and surveillance programs at a district level as they enable us to collect samples from a mosaic of landscapes and species to build a robust disease profile of the region overall. Models such as this will go a long-way in ensuring animal health, community health and in-turn, planetary health.”   

Globally an estimated 300 million dogs live on the streets, 35 million of them in India where they battle starvation, untreated disease and injuries, as well as direct persecution. Despite this, through community education programs such as that promoted by HSI/India, there is a growing understanding of safe and harmonious coexistence, and a growing responsibility in communities to care for the animals with whom they share their lives while at the same time holding local government agencies to account to deliver coordinated, quality veterinary care in rural and urban areas in line with the One Health approach. HSI/India’s program in the district of Dharwad, Karnataka aims to develop a model for inclusive animal protection, actively engaging community members to sustain these efforts over time.   

Local resident Allah Baksh (37 years old) says: “My dog’s name is Pinto and he is 3 years old. I am a member of the grama panchayat (village administrative unit). Members of HSI/India and government doctors have come today and vaccinated almost all dogs in our village. This is a really good initiative to safeguard the health and wellness of our dogs and the people in our village. We welcome this program and have fully cooperated with them. We would also like to get our dogs sterilized in the near future.” 

Local resident Bhimappa, (65 years old) says: “My dog’s name is Raja and he is 6 years old. Since this morning, the vets have been going door-to-door and vaccinating all dogs in our village. This is very beneficial to our dogs and people who live in Dori. This initiative is one of a kind and is welcome from the point of view of health of our animals.”

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Media Contacts: 

Humane Society International / United States

Two male lions named Netsai and Humba in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
Dex Kotze

WASHINGTON—The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Humane Society Legislative Fund sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week calling out that the agency is not fulfilling its mandate under the Endangered Species Act by allowing imports of African lion trophies from Zimbabwe and is using faulty information to justify issuing permits.

The letter was prompted by the recent slaughter of Mopane, allegedly by an American trophy hunter, and the concern that other lions who reside around Hwange National Park—including Cecil’s offspring—may be next. After Cecil’s death in July 2015 prompted global outrage, concern turned to the fate of his pride.

Two male lion brothers, Humba and Netsai, took over the pride, which includes Cecil’s mates, daughters and grand cubs. Humba and Netsai are popular among tourists visiting Hwange National Park due to their magnificent manes, which are also attractive traits for trophy hunters. If they are targeted, Cecil’s relatives will be vulnerable to takeover and in danger of being killed.

Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States said, “The tragic deaths of Mopane and Cecil reveal a deep and ongoing threat to so many vulnerable lions just like them—potential victims who may die at the hands of trophy hunters, enduring hours of pain and suffering for the sake of a pretentious status symbol. We will not back down when it comes to ending this threat to lions. Cecil’s offspring, and other lions in his pride and across Africa, deserve protection from such a fate.”

In December 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the African lion under the Endangered Species Act, which meant that the USFWS would issue lion trophy import permits only when it could make a scientific finding that such imports would “enhance the survival of the species.” However, the agency has continued to allow lion imports despite not using the best available science in granting those permits. Since 2018, the agency has issued 23 permits to import lion trophies from Zimbabwe.

In 2017, the HSUS, HSI and HSLF wrote a letter to USFWS pointing out errors in its science, reasoning and analysis regarding importing lion trophies from Zimbabwe and explaining that the agency was violating the Endangered Species Act and its own regulations. Last week’s letter includes updated evidence and calls attention to the August 2021 killing of Mopane, a pride male who was lured out of Hwange National Park and killed on the same property where Cecil was killed and reportedly organized by the same trophy hunting outfitter as the one who Cecil’s killer contracted.

Mopane was allegedly killed by an American who might seek to import his lion trophy. The letter also states that science has demonstrated that hunting on the periphery of Hwange has caused lion populations of Hwange National Park to decline and is therefore not sustainable. Local residents are concerned about these hunts and the two males who took over Cecil’s pride could be next.

Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said, “If ethics are not enough of a reason to stop killing lions for trophies, our letter certainly demonstrates rigorous scientific evidence that trophy hunting of lions in Zimbabwe is unsustainable and does not enhance the survival of lions.”

The concerns are echoed by Zimbabwean advocates Advocates4Earth, which sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland lamenting the continued slaughter of lions by American trophy hunters and requesting that USFWS suspend lion trophy imports from Zimbabwe.

Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund, said: “Lions continue being slaughtered by trophy hunters while the Fish and Wildlife Service pursues a business-as-usual trophy import permitting process despite evidence that trophy hunting does not aid in conservation efforts. Congress has recognized this fallacy by including language in appropriations that would halt the import of lion and elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. The agency must stop relying on outdated and incomplete data, must support this direction from Congress, and must stop allowing these imports—full-stop.”

This month, Humane Society International/Europe launched a new campaign, #NotInMyWorld, featuring images of a stuffed trophy hunted rhinoceros and elephant wrapped for overseas shipping. The shocking visuals are appearing across social media this month, and on buses and billboards in selected European cities. The campaign goal is to expose the shocking reality that thousands of internationally protected species are being shot for fun and imported as trophies into countries in the European Union which is the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies after the United States.

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Watch the YouTube Video

Download the Letter


Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, 202-809-8711,

Humane Society International / Europe

Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for HSI

BRUSSELS (28 Sept. 2021)—The emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is widely thought to have passed to humans from bats via intermediate species sold in wildlife markets, has highlighted the fact that the trade in wildlife—both legal and illegal—poses a significant threat to human health.

Today, MEPs for Wildlife, a cross-party European Parliament interest group, held an online event entitled Preventing the Next Pandemic: One Health, emerging infectious diseases and wildlife trade in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society, Humane Society International/Europe and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The event, hosted by Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans (Renew Europe), included expert panellists from the European Commission, World Health Organization and academia, and discussed the impact of wildlife trade and markets; links to biodiversity, climate, security and health; and how these threats should be addressed through an integrated One Health approach.

The majority of the panelists agreed that the main takeaway from this pandemic is that if no action is taken to restrict the international and domestic trade of wild animals, the question is not whether another pandemic will emerge, but when it will emerge.

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

“Wildlife around the globe is under intense pressure from human activity and over-exploitation. Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade, poor governance and corruption have significant negative impacts on ecosystems and result in the loss of multiple wild species, affecting the integrity of whole ecosystems, contributing to climate change, and damaging local livelihoods, economic development and security. The coronavirus pandemic should be a wake-up call to humanity. COVID-19 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, destroy animals’ natural habitats and lose biodiversity, the greater the opportunities for emerging infectious diseases to spread to human populations.”

Arnaud Goessens, senior manager EU policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, added:

“The current COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks of zoonotic origin such as SARS and Ebola have clearly demonstrated the critical need to apply a truly trans-sectoral One Health approach, as a matter of urgency. We believe that efforts must be focused on preventing pandemics of zoonotic origin at their source­—in other words, stopping them at the point of pathogen spillover from animals to humans, well before they can become local outbreaks, epidemics, or global pandemics. We have borne witness to the devastation caused to human communities by the current coronavirus pandemic. Concerted global action is needed to ensure that the next pandemic is stopped in its tracks.”

Ilaria Di Silvestre, head of EU policy & campaigns for IFAW’s EU office, noted:

“The link between emerging zoonotic diseases, the exploitation of wild animals and the human destruction of their natural habitats is beyond doubt. We must also not forget that the EU is active in the trade in wildlife, being both a destination market and a hub for the trade of wildlife in transit to other regions, particularly from Africa destined for Asia.  The EU Biodiversity Strategy makes an explicit connection between wildlife trade and the emergence of zoonotic diseases. To reduce the risks posed to human health—as well as to protect animal welfare—we strongly advocate maintaining wild animals in secure and intact habitats and minimizing wild animal-human interaction by severely limiting wild animal trade and use. The European Commission has a great opportunity to deliver on this through a robust revision of the existing EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.”

Calls to control the trade in wild animals for food and medicine have been issued even before the emergence of SARS nearly 20 years ago. It is now proven that pathogens associated with legally traded wildlife can jump species barriers and affect most vertebrates, accounting for new diseases in both domestic animals and humans. It is estimated that zoonoses, or diseases that originate from animals, account for nearly 60% of all known human pathogens, and for about three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases that affect humans. After the outbreak of COVID-19, a series of measures to curb the possibility for emergence of new zoonotic diseases have been proposed, which include ban on wildlife markets, adoption of a “one health” approach that considers human, animal, and environmental health as a single issue and stricter control of wildlife trade.

Background information

Speakers and panellists included:

  • Prof. Dr. Chris Walzer, executive director, Health Program, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Jorge Rodriguez Romero, deputy head of unit, Multilateral Environmental Cooperation, DG Environment
  • Dr Francisco Javier Reviriego Gordejo, head of unit for animal health, DG SANTE
  • Dr. Anne-Lise Chaber, One Health expert, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide
  • Cristina Romanelli, programme officer for biodiversity, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization
  • Catherine Bearder, IFAW board member, former MEP and founding Chair of MEPs for Wildlife group

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