"We trust that France's decision will create a domino effect within the EU
and that we will soon hear about other member states joining together to say no
Catherine Bearder, a Liberal Democrat MEP who led calls for a ban in the summer,
said was "delighted" by France's decision and the UK should follow its lead.
The EU's scientific review group, which decides whether or not to blacklist
trophy imports based on the sustainability of species, met in September and
approved the continued import of lion trophies from Tanzania, Zambia and
France has banned the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters' trophies,
nearly four months after the killing of Zimbabwe's most famous lion by an
American trophy hunter sparked international outrage.
In a letter to the actor and animals rights activist Brigitte Bardot, France's
environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to
stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on
trophies from other species.
"Following your letter and recent visits in Africa in preparation of the climate
summit in Paris, I want to let you know I have given orders to my services to
stop delivering certificates for importing lion trophies," Royal wrote in the
letter dated 12 November.
Last month, scientists warned that lion numbers in central and western Africa
are likely to halve in the next two decades due to loss of habitat and prey."
Concerning other species trophies, I am in favour of a much stronger control for
hunting trophies and this issue will be discussed with all the countries
concerned and with the EU."
In July, conservationists and MEPs called for an EU-wide ban on the import of
lion trophies following the death of Cecil the lion at the hands of a Minnesotan
dentist near one of Zimbabwe's national parks. France is the first EU state to
implement such a ban. In March, Australia also banned their import.
Between 2010 and the 2013, the last year for which data is available, more than
100 such lion trophies were imported to France.
Lionaid, a UK-based charity that is calling for the UK to follow suit with a ban
on lion trophy imports, said it was "overjoyed" by the move.
A spokeswoman said: "Within the EU, France was a major importer of such trophies
and we expect that wild lions will now find themselves safer without the
presence of French trophy hunters.