Over the past 15 years, 1.2 million animals have been killed by Americans who traveled overseas to snag their trophies, according to a thoroughly chilling investigation by NBC Bay Area.
That breaks down to about 70,000 animals each year. Many of these animals are endangered, threatened or near-threatened species.
If the numbers aren’t staggering enough, the regulation of these imports sounds like a losing battle, since violations abound.
In the Bay Area, according to the report, there are only four wildlife inspectors who only have time to inspect 50 percent of trophies shipped back to the states through that region.
A trophy hunter poses with pride beside the young elephant he has just killed. Philip Glass shows no remorse and even boasts: “God says we have dominion over the animals . That means we can do what we choose with them.”
He is so convinced of his divine right to shoot big game, he also agreed to be filmed hunting a lion and hippo in South Africa for shocking new film Trophy.
The documentary ’s grim footage comes after Donald Trump sparked fury by lifting Barack Obama ’s ban on hunters importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the US.
The Mirror today exposes the sick reality of trophy hunting in South Africa and the firms offering package holiday-style hunts. And we reveal many of the trophies are imported here, meaning Brits are involved in the vile practice.
In total, 450 hunting trophies have been imported using official permits in the past decade from across the globe.
It is feared the trophy hunting trade, worth $150million a year, could surge. A permit to kill an elephant costs $35,000, a lion $38,000 and a rare rhino $250,000.
Trophy, produced by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hardy , also reveals how many hunters now use big game farms, where animals are kept in pens ready to be shot. This “canned hunting” means they can slaughter several species in one day.
One hunter, who refused to be named, is seen shooting a crocodile . It should be an easy target but he cannot manage a clean kill. It is dragged to the bank and waits for death.
The hunter then shouts “Let me put my beer down” before firing a bullet into its brain at close range. “Oh yeah, m*****f*****,” he cries. “I’m done for today. It’s party time, boys.”
He still wants to kill a warthog, a baboon and a bush pig before he leaves – and finds time to share a creepy kiss with his partner while posing beside a dead wildebeest.
This is all legal with 150 farms in South Africa holding permits to breed lions for trophy hunting – including the Mabula game reserve in the northern province of Limpopo. Owner Christo Gomes , a cattle farmer before breeding big game, says: “You can pick the animals you want to shoot.”
That allows hunters to select the gender, size and colour of their kill as well as species. But not all hunters want to kill farmed animals. Glass, 45, a Texan sheep farmer, prefers to stalk them in the wild.
He also boasts it is his mission to collect the “Big Five”. He has shot a buffalo, leopard, lion and elephant, and just needs a rhino to finish the set.
Glass claims to love animals more than non-hunters. After killing a lion, he says: “It is more special for me as a believer when I shoot these animals, to know God placed them. When I put my hand on that lion, I know anyone who believes in evolution is a fool.”
He even says he helps with conservation: “If a species pays, it stays”.
Trophy hunting hit headlines in 2015 after US dentist Walter Palmer, 57, killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
There are now just 20,000 rare southern white rhinos in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Namibia. And of 20,000 lions just 4,000 are adults.
Directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz made Trophy to probe whether trophy hunting and farming rhinos for their horns – without killing them – really can save endangered species.
Will Travers OBE, president of charity Born Free, said: “The footage of these trophy hunters is so shocking anyone with a beating heart will be appalled.
“We are told all the money will go into conservation but [a study] found only 3% goes to communities and conservation. If the British Government is not willing to ban bringing trophies in, there is nothing to stop it bringing in criteria that hunters have to meet.”
Schwarz adds: “The thought of putting economic value on animals is not pleasant. Do I understand why Philip Glass wants to kill an elephant? Hell no. But can this psychopath help conserve? That’s the question.”