Trophy Hunting: Animals Under Fire

Humane Society International

  • The few who remain should not become trophies. Bob Koons

Some of the animals that trophy hunters covet and what HSI is doing to stop trophy hunting:


African elephants are experiencing an unprecedented poaching crisis and their numbers are dwindling. American trophy hunters imported the parts of an estimated 5,774 elephants over the past 10 years, thus contributing to the decimation of the species. HSI has promoted greater protection for African elephants from American trophy hunters through a petition to list the species as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and by advocating tighter regulations governing elephant trophy imports.

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The African lion population has declined by 60 percent since 1993 and there are fewer than 30,000 lions left today. Most of the hunters that kill African lions are American and in the past 10 years, parts of approximately 5,647 lions were imported to the U.S. as trophies. This is why we petitioned the U.S. government to list the African lion under the Endangered Species Act to significantly restrict the import of lion trophies to the United States. Read HSUS and HSI comments on proposed African lion threatened listing.


There are only an estimated 20,170 white rhinos and only approximately 4,880 black rhinos left in the wild. Both species are hunted and imported as trophies into the U.S. The black rhino is one of two of the only species listed as endangered under U.S. law for which trophy imports have been allowed (the other is Bontebok). HSI fights to keep these imports out by appealing to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to not issue import permits.  Read HSUS and HSI comments on the Black Rhinoceros Trophy Import Permit Applications.


Leopards in sub-Saharan Africa have declined by more than 30 percent in the last 25 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUNC), and have lost between 21 and 99 percent of their historic range. The continued survival of this elusive and majestic cat is endangered by staggering land conversion for agricultural purposes, habitat fragmentation, loss of prey species targeted for bushmeat, retaliatory killings due to conflict with livestock ranchers, poaching, unsustainable trophy hunting, and other threats. In November 2016 and in response to our legal petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that all leopards may qualify for “endangered” status under the Endangered Species Act. This could close a loophole in place since 1982, whereby hundreds of leopard trophies have been imported per year into the U.S. (311 just in 2014) without proper government scrutiny.


Giraffes face mounting threats from habitat loss, being hunted for their meat, and the international trade in bone carvings and trophies, Africa’s giraffe population has plunged almost 40 percent in the past 30 years and now stands at just over 97,000 individuals. The situation is desperate and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently identified giraffes as “vulnerable.” The United States plays a major role in the giraffe trade, importing more than 21,400 bone carving, 3,000 skin pieces and 3,700 hunting trophies between 2006 and 2015. Yet giraffes have no protection under U.S. law. In April of 2017, we petitioned for an “endangered” status for giraffes under the U.S Endangered Species Act.


The bontebok is an antelope species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and the population is estimated around 3,500. Bonteboks, like many lions, are hunted in canned hunting facilities. The bontebok, like black rhino, is one of only two endangered species for which trophy imports have been allowed. We have consistently appealed to FWS to not issue import permits.

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