BRUSSELS—Today, the Belgium Parliament took a significant step against the import and trade of animal trophies, adopting with overwhelming support a resolution urging the government to immediately end the authorisation of trophy import permits for certain threatened and endangered species. Among those included are the rhinoceros, African elephant, lion, polar bear and argali sheep, listed in Annex A of the EU’s regulation on trade in plants and animals. The resolution also includes certain animal species listed in Annex B of the same regulation.
Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists), Melissa Depraetere (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists) and Mélissa Hanus (PS, Francophone Socialists), who originally submitted a legislative proposal to ban hunting trophy imports in 2020, expressed their delight at the result of their efforts at this critical step towards achieving their goals. Verduyckt said: “Concretely, it means, based on this decision, that Minister Zakia Khattabi [minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal of Belgium] can now stop issuing import licenses. Her party colleagues have already stated in the Energy, Climate and Environment committee that this will happen soon. I hope that other countries will now follow suit and there will soon be a full ban in place at the European level.”
Humane Society International/Europe praises the Belgian Federal Parliament for its efforts to protect biodiversity and threatened and endangered species. Ruud Tombrock, executive director of HSI/Europe, said: “Trophy hunting has no place in modern society. With this decision by the Belgian Parliament, we are one step closer to ending the unnecessary and cruel hunting of species on the brink of extinction who don’t deserve to be killed for a trophy. We would like to thank everyone involved in the critical efforts made, especially the sponsor, Kris Verduyckt MP.”
The resolution is in line with the major public interest in Belgium on animal welfare. The country has some of the highest levels of opposition to trophy hunting among EU Member States. According to the results of a survey by Ipsos commissioned by Humane Society International/Europe, 91% of Belgians oppose trophy hunting and 88% support the prohibition of importing any kind of hunting trophy at all.
Belgium is not the first country to take action to stop its involvement in this anachronistic and cruel practice that endangers the survival of many wild species. Neighboring countries have already banned hunting trophy imports:
- The Netherlands banned trophies of over 200 species in 2016.
- France banned imports of lion trophies in 2015.
- In March 2022, the Spanish Parliamentary Association in Defence of Animal Rights hosted an expert panel in the Congress of Deputies titled, “Let’s ban the import of hunting trophies of endangered species” where they presented a motion for resolution to prohibit the trophy imports of protected species.
- The Honorable Vittorio Ferraresi and Francesca Flati (M5S) introduced the first bill in the Italian Chamber of Deputies to ban the import and export of hunting trophies of protected species.
- Members of the Finnish Parliament presented a motion containing a proposal for a ban.
- Switzerland and the United Kingdom committed to stopping the imports of hunting trophies from protected species. The United Kingdom policy would be the strictest ban on importing hunting trophies ever.
Some of the initiatives follow the 2021 publication of the HSI/Europe 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. From 2014 to 2018, the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies—eight per day—of 73 internationally protected species. Over those five years, the number of trophies entering the EU increased by 40%.
In 2019 and 2020, despite the impact of COVID-19, European trophy hunters still managed to travel and import more than 5,700 trophies of species listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Trophy hunting, a colonial pastime celebrating the killing of wild animals for bragging rights, is incompatible with the biodiversity ambitions of the European Commission as well as the views of EU citizens. According to the results of a survey conducted in five EU Member States by Savanta ComRes—which was commissioned by HSI/Europe in 2021—over 80% of respondents opposed trophy hunting.
Press contact: Adeline Fischer, communications manager Europe: firstname.lastname@example.org; +49 17631063219