Over 700 protesters took to the streets of London on Saturday April 30th to protest against the hunting of African Lions as trophies.
This comes after the global outcry over the death of Cecil‚ one of Zimbabwe’s most celebrated Lions‚ who was killed in July last year by American dentist Walter Palmer. Leading wildlife protection charities Lion Aid, the Born Free Foundation, IFAW, Four Paws, Save Me and One Protest, came together to call for an end to Lion trophy hunting in Africa and the import of Lion trophies into the UK and European Union.
In 1980, more than 75,000 wild Lions roamed the African continent, today it is estimated that around 15,00 survive across just eight percent of their historic range. The African Lion faces a battle to survive on many fronts as a result of habitat loss, loss of natural prey largely due to poaching, and increased conflict with people and their livestock. In recent years, Lions are believed to have disappeared completely from as many 16 African countries.
Despite this ecological tragedy, hundreds of wild Lions continue to be killed by trophy hunters in Africa every year, with many of the heads and skins from these animals being imported to EU counties, including the UK.
The March Against Lion Trophy Hunting
People (and dogs!) from the UK and Europe gathered in Cavendish Square around noon on what was a beautiful sunny day. The weather for most of the week had been wet and blustery so this was blessing, perhaps the sun shining on the righteous? Suddenly there was a lot of activity in a corner of the Square and when I went to have a closer look found that legendary Virginia McKenna, founder of Born Free, was talking to the crowd and giving interviews. I considered myself privileged to be able to talk with wonderful lady and have a photograph taken with her.
After a few preparation speeches the group left Cavendish Square. The destination – No 10 Downing Street, to hand a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The group marched loudly but peacefully towards their destination snaking along street after street. Along the route passers-by took photographs and cheered whilst cars and lorries sounded their horns to cheers from the procession.
Rumer and The Church of Malcolm the band marched with us and they played and sang as we walked. As the delegation entered Downing Street to deliver the letter to the Prime Minister, Rumer and the band sang and played their exquisite music and the Lions in front danced along!
The march stopped at South Africa House, aptly opposite the Lions of Trafalgar Square, where Dominic Dyer, press officer for Born Free made a short speech and made them VERY aware that we weren’t going to stand for trophy hunting gin South Africa any longer!
Feelings made know, the march then carried onto its destination were speeches were made and the delegation went to No 10 to hand in the petition.
It’s up to you now Mr Cameron. I advise you to listen to voice of the people and ban the import of hunter’s trophies. We are watching and we are NOT going to go away!!!
The speakers outside Downing Street included:
Virginia McKenna OBE – Founder and Trustee Born Free
James Cosmo – LionAid Patron
Above videos by Richard Valdambrini
Dr. Pieter Kat – Co-founder and a Director LionAid
Anneka Svenska speaks to James Cosmo https://www.facebook.com/GreenWorldTVUK/videos/1597150213909180/?fref=nf
Video of the march by Jo Phillips:https://t.co/KUfY6LVlb1
This is the letter that was delivered to Prime Minister, David Cameron at No 10 Downing Street.
Dear Prime Minister,
We the undersigned wish to highlight the plight of African Lions and the need for urgent and concerted action by the UK government to help prevent their continued disappearance across much of the African continent. Lions are an iconic symbol in many cultures across the world. Lion statues and images abound across London and Great Britain, and the door knocker at Number 10 is in the shape of a Lion. Africa without Lions is unimaginable, yet this appalling scenario is fast becoming a reality. From probably well over a milLion in the 1800s, and around half a milLion as recently as the 1940s, there may now be less than 20,000 wild Lions left in Africa. The situation is most desperate in West Africa where only some 400 individuals remain and where the species is considered to be critically endangered.
Lions now inhabit as little as eight percent of their historic range, and are believed to have disappeared completely from as many as 16 African countries in recent years.
The future survival of Lions now rests on just five populations that exceed the viable population threshold of more than 200 reproductive adults, some of which are in heavily managed fenced reserves which limits their long-term growth potential and therefore their ability to contribute to the continental recovery of the species.
The reasons for these devastating declines are complex. They include loss of habitat, loss of natural prey largely due to poaching, and increased conflict with people and their livestock.
Unsustainable and unethical trophy hunting practices are also having an impact; in the decade to 2013, almost 3,000 Lion ‘trophies’ were declared to have been exported to EU countries alone, almost half of which were derived from wild Lions. Trade in Lion parts and products, including skins and bones, represents an emerging additional threat; in the decade to 2012, nearly 30,000 Lion items were declared to have been legally exported from more than 50 countries.
In recognition of the increasingly desperate plight facing Lions, several countries have already taken action. Australia and France announced bans on the import of all Lion products, and the United States has recently listed Lions under its Endangered Species Act which will facilitate the release of funds from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to assist conservation measures as well as significantly restricting imports of Lion trophies and products.
We hereby call on the British Government to take strong and immediate action to join these nations in support of Lion conservation and to implement a complete ban on the import into the UK of any Lion product including sport hunting trophies. We call on the British Government to urgently support independent and scientifically verifiable population censuses to guide future Lion conservation needs in partnership with African range states. We further call on the British Government to declare its support for providing Lions with the highest level of protection against international trade by calling for Lions to be placed on Appendix I of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at its forthcoming meeting in South Africa later this year, and to persuade its European Union and African range State partners to do likewise.
Finally, we call on the British Government to take action through its Commonwealth partners, development programmes and international trade agreements to provide whatever scientific advice and resources are needed for African Lion range states to implement dedicated and effective conservation measures for this iconic species. We can no longer stand idly by and allow this magnificent animal to disappear on our watch.
The letter delivered to The UK Prime Minister David Cameron was been signed by:
For the charities:
Dr Pieter Kat – LionAid
Christine Macsween FCMA, FRSA – LionAid
Melody Lee-Gattenby – LionAid
Virginia McKenna OBE – Born Free
Will Travers OBE – Born Free
Dominic Dyer – Born Free
Mark Jones – Born Free
Brian da Cal – Four Paws
Cordelia Britton – Four Paws
Philip Mansbridge – IFAW
Jordi Casamitjana – IFAW
Adam Sugalski – One Protest
Marc Abraham BVM&S MRCVS – PupAid
Brigitte Bardot – President Fondation Brigitte Bardot
Catherine Bearder MEP Liberal Democrat
Jilly Cooper OBE – Author
James Cosmo – Actor
Peter Egan – Actor
Lady Annabel Goldsmith
Professor Stephen Hawking CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA
Greg Hunt MP – Minister Environment Australia
David Jones MP Conservative
Diane Keen – Actress
Jean Lambert MEP Green
Raymond J Lesniak New Jersey State Senator
Joanna Lumley OBE – Actress
Dr Brian May CBE – Founder, Save Me Trust
Kerry McCarthy MP Labour
Stephen McIntosh – Actor
Ian Michler – Lion conservationist
Paul O’Grady – Actor
John Rendall – Lion conservationist
Kevin Richardson – Lion conservationist
Rumer – singer/songwriter
Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE,MBS, Founder David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
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