WASHINGTON — An undercover investigation last week by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International exposed exhibitors peddling wild animal products at the Safari Club International convention in Reno, Nevada. Items found for sale include belts and boots made of elephants, hippos and stingrays, which likely violate Nevada’s wildlife trafficking law.
Among the other items for sale were boots made of giraffe skin ($1,390) and kangaroo skin ($1,080), and trips to hunt Asiatic black bears, giraffes, elephants, lions, hippos and more. One outfitter said hunting a giraffe costs “only” $1,200 because they have “too many giraffes” and need to “get rid of the animals.”
For the second year in a row, the investigator found “canned” lion hunts for sale, where customers pay to shoot a captive-bred lion, violating SCI’s own ban that it implemented in February 2018. In his sales pitch, one vendor bragged that his safari company holds five of the top 10 lions ever recorded in SCI’s Record Book.
Among the featured speakers and entertainers at the convention were Donald Trump Jr. and the Beach Boys. A “dream hunt” with Donald Trump Jr. aboard a luxury yacht in Alaska to kill black-tailed deer and sea ducks was sold to two winners for auction at a total of $340,000. A taxidermy ibex mountain goat that Trump Jr. killed was on display on the convention floor.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “This convention does nothing other than celebrate senseless violence towards wildlife. For far too long SCI has chosen profits and bragging rights over conservation, ethics and the law, and has been trying to convince the public that the display of thousands of dead animal trophies, parts and products is somehow beneficial to conservation. The public isn’t falling for it anymore. Wild animals are not commodities to be sold, with their deaths something to celebrate. This needs to end.”
This is not the first time that vendors at SCI’s convention defied local authorities. Last year a dozen vendors were found selling illegal wildlife products in potential violation of the state law. HSUS and HSI have submitted evidence of the violations of state law to local enforcement authorities.
Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said, “No animals are off limit to trophy hunters. From shooting giraffes, hyenas, zebras, elephants, hippopotamus to primates and lions, the trophy hunting industry reveals its true nature – one that is motivated by the thrill to kill, and not by conservation.”
Hunting trips for sale at the convention included:
- A $350,000 hunt for a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia.
- An outfitter advertised its “Trump Special” - a $25,000 hunt for a buffalo, sable, roan and crocodile.
- Advertised as a “bargain” was a captive-bred lion hunt for $8,000 in South Africa.
- A $6,000 hunt for any six animals that a customer can choose to kill in South Africa. The offerings were: zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, impalas, hartebeest, gemsbok, nyala and waterbuck.
- A polar bear hunt in Canada was offered for sale for $35,000.
- An Asiatic black bear hunt in Russia sold for $15,000.
- A 15-day Alaska hunt to kill a brown bear, black bear, mountain goat and wolf was sold for $25,000.
The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are urging the public to ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny any import request for the trophy of a rare argali sheep that Trump Jr. killed in Mongolia last year.
“No one is above the law—not these outfitters, not the wealthy elite, and not our agencies. Shooting ESA listed species does not enhance their survival and it’s time we make that irrevocably clear,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We are fighting for strong legislation that puts an end to our country’s significant contribution to this inhumane practice based on vanity and colonialist fantasies.”
Additionally the organizations are urging the public to ask their members of U.S. Congress to support H.R. 4804, the Prohibiting Threatened and Endangered Creature Trophies Act (ProTECT Act) and H.R.2245 the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act (CECIL Act), which would significantly withdraw the U.S.’s prominent role in global trophy hunting of imperiled species.