French Assembly debate on trophy hunting sets stage for Senate proposal to end hunting trophy imports

Assembly discussion on prohibiting hunting trophy imports coincides with new legislative proposal by Senator Céline Boulay-Espéronnier supported by 91% of French people

Humane Society International / Europe


PARIS—Yesterday, the French Assembly adopted an amendment that will significantly assist customs authorities in limiting the import of hunting trophies of certain endangered animal species into France by an overwhelming majority (113 votes for, one vote against).

This vote coincides with a new legislative proposal for a ban brought forth by Senator Céline Boulay-Espéronnier on May 23, the first time such a ban has been championed by politicians at the legislative level in France. That Senate proposal is supported by an overwhelming 91% of French citizens who would rally behind the initiative to outlaw trophy imports of endangered species, including African elephant, giraffe and polar bear, according to a poll commissioned by HSI/Europe.

The Assembly sub-amendment proposed by Deputy Sandra Regol, Ecologist group – NUPES, states: “The practice of trophy hunting tourism, when it contributes to endangering species, harms biodiversity. However, it is happening in many countries, whether it is South Africa, Mozambique or Canada, and in total, at least 200,000 hunting trophies from 451 endangered species have been imported around the world between 2005 and 2015. It is crucial to fight this phenomenon, aligning with French people’s expectation and the ecological necessity.”

France has already taken steps to protect lions from trophy hunting, in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015. However, this new move signifies renewed hope for all the other species such as the elephants, leopards and cheetahs that fall victim to being legally hunted and imported as trophies into France. Several of these targeted species, including the African elephant, leopard, hippopotamus and cheetah, teeter on the brink of extinction. France stands out as the first destination within the European Union for African leopards, exacerbating the plight of a species under the threat of extinction.

Humane Society International/Europe and Convergence Animaux Politique commend Mrs Sandra Regol for her unwavering commitment to championing the bill through the sub-amendment aimed at tackling the detrimental impact of trophy hunting on endangered and vulnerable species, by expanding the implementation of a customs authority investigation process commonly referred to as a “blow buy.” The Ecologist group – NUPES is fully supportive of the sub-amendment proposed.

Explaining the significance of the Assembly’s adopted sub-measure, Milton Federici, public affairs manager of Convergence Animaux et Politique, says: “The adoption of this amendment marks a significant victory. It gives ground to customs officers to use the ‘purchase’ investigation technique for hunting trophies, signaling their import as a legal offense. While the current import ban solely focuses on lion trophies, the resoundingly positive vote by the Assembly demonstrates politicians’ willingness to be more ambitious. This vote is a step forward towards a ban on trophy hunting imports to safeguard all the other endangered species targeted by trophy hunters.”

Capucine Meyer, HSI/Europe trophy hunting campaign consultant for France, says: “The overwhelming support to the amendment shows that politicians align with the 91% of French citizens who support a prohibition on trophy hunting imports of protected species. It is a clear signal that there is no time to waste in expanding the level of protection granted to endangered species beyond just lions. Many more species targeted by the trophy hunting industry are facing extinction and are in dire need for such a ban to be adopted.”

France’s initiative aligns with efforts by other member states to move towards enhanced protection of wildlife threatened by trophy hunting. Countries such as the Netherlands (2016) and Finland (2022), have already surpassed CITES ((the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) recommendations and implemented binding measures for species protection. With Belgium, Poland, Italy and the United Kingdom in the process of enacting similar legislation, the EU government must take immediate action to reflect the general public’s desire for a ban on hunting trophy imports in line with a precautionary approach to species protection.

The groups appreciate the commitment of French politicians to ban the import of hunting trophies of endangered species, saying it sends a powerful message and emphasizes the need for global action to preserve our planet’s irreplaceable wildlife. HSI commends Senator Boulay-Espéronnier’s efforts, which place France at the forefront of the fight against trophy hunting as the bill progresses through legislative procedures.

Background facts:

  • Trophy hunting poses a grave threat to biodiversity and ecosystem stability. It involves the killing of wild animals for the purpose of exhibiting their heads, skins or other body parts as trophies. This cruel and detrimental activity exacerbates the decline of species, endangering their survival and disrupting ecosystems.

Contrary to claims that trophy hunting benefits local communities, studies reveal that a mere 3% of the revenue generated from this activity reaches them. Consequently, communities are deprived of genuine conservation opportunities and the potential economic benefits of sustainable ecotourism, which can create employment and contribute to conservation efforts.

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Ton Koene/Alamy

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