Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, June 26, 2018

Contact:  Tanya Sanerib, (206) 379-7363,

Trump Administration Urged to Deny Trophy Import Permits for South African Lions

Famed Lion 'Skye' May Have Been Illegally Baited, Shot

WASHINGTON— In the wake of news that a famed lion may have been baited and shot in South Africa, conservation and welfare groups yesterday urged the Trump administration to deny import permits for all lion trophies taken near Kruger National Park in the Umbabat Reserve.

The potential killing of the famed Western Pride leader, known as “Skye” to visitors of Kruger Park, shed new light on a lacking management structure around trophy hunting in the area as well as the use of baiting during lion trophy hunts in South African reserves. Skye has not been seen since a June 7 trophy hunt in the Umbabat Reserve.

“If a pride leader like Skye was shot for a cheap thrill, that’s especially tragic because all his cubs will be killed by the new top lion,” said Tanya Sanerib, international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Today’s letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also highlights the flaws in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s secretive new case-by-case process for approving trophy imports. Under the new system initiated in March, trophy hunters provide the U.S. government information behind closed doors, without giving the public notice and an opportunity to provide information.

“With all the questions around this kill and the inconsistent statements from the reserve managers, an import permit should not be issued on the facts as they appear,” said Sanerib. “But under Zinke’s trophy-by-trophy system, the government typically only hears from hunters and those who sell them services. That stacks the decks against imperiled wildlife like lions and elephants.”

Baiting a lion is not only likely illegal in the area of South Africa where the hunt occurred, it violates the principle of “fair chase.” The practice of baiting and trophy hunting of animals in the reserves bordering Kruger National Park has spurred a raging debate over trophy hunting in South Africa fueled by the lion, possibly Skye, recently killed in the Umbabat Reserve.    

“These animals are treasures, and I hate to think of tourists’ hard-earned money going to conserve park wildlife only for a lion or elephant to cross an imaginary line and get gunned down by a trigger-happy trophy hunter,” said Sanerib.

The letter was submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, and Humane Society Legislative Fund.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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