Have lessons been learnt six years on from Cecil’s death? 

The world still mourns after Cecil the lion’s untimely death. With a tenuous import ban on the horizon, will the UK Government fulfill their promises?


Lion numbers are plummeting fast. They have disappeared from 92% of their historical range, with the main causes cited as habitat loss due to agricultural expansion and bushmeat poaching. However, another much more emotionally charged activity that could be contributing to their decline is trophy hunting. 

Six years ago Cecil the lion was killed by a trophy hunter. He was lured out of the protected national park in Zimbabwe that he lived and thrived in with an elephant carcass as bait. Having been struck by a bow and arrow he was mortally wounded, but suffered in agony for 12 hours before the trophy hunter eventually came to finish ‘the job’. Cecil was made famous as he was in fact a lion being tracked by researchers, and the hunters attempted to cover this up by destroying his GPS collar. 

At least 60 lions have been killed by British trophy hunters since the death of Cecil in 2015 and we want to ensure the UK are no longer complicit in this barbaric sport. The Conservative Government has promised to ban trophy hunting for several years in their manifesto and public pledges but as of yet have failed to implement a total ban on imports/exports of hunting trophies.  

What is the Government doing? 

It is rumored that the soon to be published ‘Animals Abroad’ Bill will ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals abroad. However, this specific mention of ‘endangered animals’ means that species that are listed as vulnerable or near threatened by the IUCN Red List will not be included in this ban. Therefore lions, as well as other iconic species such as leopards, giraffe, and hippopotamus will still be allowed to be imported into the UK as they are all only classed as vulnerable conservation status.  

We want to see an outright ban on trophy hunting imports into the UK with no exceptions. Exceptions like trophies hunted under a ‘conservation enhancement exemption’ or only those that are endangered will fail to cover issues like canned hunting, where lions are bred in captivity and released for hunts. You can read more about this in our Vicious Cycle report. We are hopeful that the Trophy Hunting All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) chaired by Sir Roger Gale will show the Government that many MPs across all parties are in support of a total ban, and encourage them to implement one as such. 

How can I help? 

You can do your part by ensuring you #TravelKind. Do your research before travelling – support eco-tourism and avoid companies that allow cub petting with links to trophy hunting. You can find out more information on how to be an animal-friendly traveller in our #TravelKind Guide, with tips on what to avoid when abroad.  

Download our guidelines

Animal Charity - Daisy

Daisy Sopel

Junior Campaigner

Daisy works in the Campaigns Team at FOUR PAWS UK, supporting her colleagues in the delivery of our wild, farm and companion animal campaigns. She has a background in animal behaviour and welfare and has almost a decade’s worth of experience working with sanctuaries and wildlife rehabilitation centres.

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