Victory! Belgium Bans The Import Of Hunting Trophies Increasing The Protection Of Elephants, Lions, Rhinos & Other Iconic Species

Photos by HSI

In a momentous triumph for wildlife conservation and animal welfare, Belgium’s Parliament sealed a landmark decision today by voting unanimously in favor of a bill prohibiting the import of hunting trophies from endangered species into the country. This historic move, following nearly two years since the Parliament’s initial call for such a ban, will protect revered species such as lions and rhinos.

The vote was endorsed unanimously by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and echoes the 91% of Belgians standing against trophy hunting and the 88% supporting a ban on the importation of any hunting trophies, according to a 2020 Ipsos survey commissioned by Humane Society International/Europe.

Before the ban, Belgium imported trophies of species vulnerable to extinction, such as hippopotamus, cheetahs, and polar bears. The new bill, that was introduced by the Minister of Climate, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Green Deal, Zakia Khattabi, will stop the import of hunting trophies from many species currently at-risk of extinction due to the wildlife trade or threatened unless trade is limited.

All species listed in Annex A of the European Regulation 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora, such as jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, some brown bears, Cape mountain zebra, chimpanzees, and African elephants, will be protected by the new bill, along with certain species in Annex B of the same regulation, including African lions, Southern white rhinos, hippos, and argali sheep, also listed in Annex XIII to Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 regulating the trade of protected wild flora and fauna. The new law surpasses the 2022 Parliament resolution by extending protection to more species from Annex B than the six initially covered by the resolution.

Minister of Climate, the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Green Deal, Zakia Khattabi said, “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 March 24th, 2022. It was urgent and necessary to protect these threatened and endangered species!”

Member of Parliament Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit, Flemish Socialists), who initiated the legislative proposal to ban hunting trophy imports, said, “Our country is finally banning the import of hunting trophies of endangered animals. The protection of these species is incompatible with trophy hunting imports. I am delighted that my legislative proposal is now enshrined in our legislation and I hope that it will serve as a source of inspiration for many other countries.”

Having championed this cause for years, and collaborated closely with Belgian MPs to garner parliamentary support, HSI/Europe applauds the adoption of this crucial legislation, which brings a successful outcome to a complicated legislative process. The animal protection charity has worked with MPs to secure an import ban for over two years, resulting at first in a unanimously supported parliamentary resolution in 2022 that became a legislative proposal approved by the Federal government’s Council of Ministers in July 2023.

“The Belgian Parliament made history today for animals and is illustrating its continued and principled stand against the senseless killing of endangered wildlife,” said Ruud Tombrock, executive director of HSI/Europe. “With this decision, Belgium positions itself as a leader in protecting biodiversity and endangered species. 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. The time is now for an EU-wide ban on the import of hunting trophies from endangered and protected species, reflecting the views of citizens across Member States in the European Union who share a commitment to being cautious and protective of animals and biodiversity, as well as preventing the fragmentation of the EU Single Market.”

The ban in Belgium sends a positive signal in support of the adoption of a similar ban in neighboring France, where a cross-party Assembly bill proposal to ban the import of hunting trophies of protected species is currently under parliamentary session. That ban was proposed by Ecologist MP Sandra Regol with the support of Renaissance MP Corinne Vignon, chair of the Assembly’s Study Group on the Condition and Welfare of Animals.

Before its implementation, the adopted Belgian legislation needs to receive royal sanction and promulgation. The text will then be published in the ‘Moniteur Belge,’ coming into force on the day specified within the text, or if unspecified, 10 days after publication.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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