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Trophy hunting is legal as long as it complies with a country’s existing hunting legislation, including ensuring all proper permits have been obtained. Exports and imports of hunting trophies from endangered species must be licenced under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. CITES works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to controls. All import, export, re-export and introduction of the species covered by the Convention must be authorised through a licencing scheme This includes trophies from hunting.

There is ongoing debate as to whether well managed trophy hunting is beneficial to conservation efforts. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is of the view that “with effective governance and management trophy hunting can and does have positive impacts”. Other organisations, such as Born Free and the Campaign for the Ban of Trophy Hunting, disagree with trophy hunting, calling for a ban and focus on other options to generate income from wildlife. Both CITES and the EU support the view that well-managed and sustainable trophy hunting can contribute to species conservation efforts.

Control on imports of hunting trophies by the EU where strengthened in 2015 to address concerns about links to wildlife trafficking. Several countries have banned the import of hunting trophies. The UK government is not considering a ban but has stated that it does keep the rules constantly under review. A parliamentary debate on trophy hunting took place in Westminster Hall on 15 May 2019.

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