Belgium bans import of hunting trophies from endangered species

Belgium bans import of hunting trophies from endangered species
Wealthy individual still pay thousands of dollars to hunt endangered species. Credit: Canva

Belgium sealed a landmark decision by unanimously approving a bill to prohibit the import of hunting trophies from endangered species – hailed by animal protection organisations as a momentous triumph for wildlife conservation and animal welfare.

This historic agreement, secured on Thursday, came nearly two years after Parliament’s initial call for such a ban. It will protect revered species such as lions and rhinos.

"It was urgent and necessary to protect these threatened and endangered species," said Belgian Climate Minister Zakia Khattabi. "With the approval of my legislative project this Thursday in plenary, the Parliament is providing a legal basis to the resolution it unanimously adopted on 24 March 2022."

Translation: "Rare enough to deserve being highlighted: UNANIMOUS support for my bill banning the import of hunting trophies into Belgium."

Before the ban, Belgium allowed the import of trophy species vulnerable to extinction such as hippopotamus, cheetahs and polar bears. The new law will stop the import of hunting trophies from many species currently at risk of extinction or that could be threatened unless trade is limited.

The bill will protect all species listed in the European Regulation on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora – such as jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, some brown bears, Cape mountain zebra and chimpanzees, and African elephants. Also included are African lions, Southern white rhinos, hippos and argali sheep.

Pushing for an EU-wide ban

Federal MP Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit), who initiated the legislative proposal to ban hunting trophy imports, hopes Belgium's decision will inspire other countries to do similar. "We are finally banning the import of hunting trophies of endangered animals. The protection of these species is incompatible with trophy hunting imports."

Following years of close collaboration, the animal protection charity Humane Society International/Europe applauded the adoption of a "crucial" legislation, after a complicated legislative process that lasted over two years.

"The Belgian Parliament made history for animals today and is illustrating its continued and principled stand against the senseless killing of endangered wildlife," said Ruud Tombrock, executive director of HSI/Europe, an organisation for animal protection in the EU. "With this decision, Belgium positions itself as a leader in protecting biodiversity and endangered species."

Related News

"We believe other European countries are also ready to follow suit and take a strong stance against trophy hunting by banning imports of such souvenirs," Tombrock added, saying that this would reflect the views of citizens across Member States "who share a commitment to protecting animals and biodiversity, as well as preventing the fragmentation of the EU Single Market."

For HSI/Europe, the Belgian ban sends a positive signal in support of the adoption of a similar ban in neighbouring country France, where a cross-party Assembly bill proposal to ban the import of hunting trophies of protected species is currently under parliamentary session.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.