Import of Hunted Lions


Ready to Apply?

There are several steps that you need to take when applying to import your sport-hunted lion trophy. We recommend planning and applying before you finalize your hunting plans to ensure you can obtain the necessary permits. Import permits are valid for one year from the time of issuance and may be amended or renewed if necessary.  

To Apply Before Your Hunt

We understand that most hunters want to know before their hunt whether they qualify for a permit to import their hunted animal. If you wish to have this reassurance prior to your hunting trip, we recommend that you submit your permit application to us 18 months prior to your planned lion hunt. In doing so, you can expect us to finish the processing of your application a year from your hunt. If you cannot plan your hunt that far in advance, we encourage you to submit your application as soon as you have the information available to complete your application. In order to complete your permit application, among other information, you must know the country and location of your hunt (area, ranch, conservancy, management area, or hunting block, and nearest city), planned date range of the hunt, and the name of the hunting outfitter, safari company, or professional hunting guide with whom you will be hunting. Copies of any applicable foreign government permits or licenses required for the hunt should be included if you have already obtained them.

To Apply After Your Hunt

If you wish to apply for your import permit after you have hunted the wildlife, you will need to complete the permit application, providing, among other information: the country and location where you hunted the wildlife (area, ranch, conservancy, management area, or hunting block, and nearest city); the date the wildlife was hunted; and the name of the hunting outfitter, safari company, or professional hunting guide with whom you hunted. In addition, you will need to provide copies of any applicable foreign government permits or licenses that were required for the hunt.

What Happens After You Submit the Application?

Permit Processing

  1. When we receive your application, we will enter it into our permitting system and send an acknowledgement letter to you via email.
  2. Our permits staff is expected to review your application and contact you within 30 days if we need additional information. You should provide responses to any questions or requests for additional information to the permits staff person within 45 days [50 CFR 13.11(c)(e)].

Permit Application Decisions

Once your permit application is determined to be complete and we have all the necessary information, we will generally be able to make a decision on your application within three months. You will be notified either by receipt of your import permit or a letter explaining the reason for denial of your application.

Sources of Information we consider include (but are not limited to):

  • The information you, other applicants, and your representatives submit with permit applications.
  • Information provided by experts, organizations and interested parties.
  • Information from U.S.-range country consultations on the management and conservation of the species in the country where the wildlife was or will be hunted.
  • Published literature.

In your permit application, we are looking for information demonstrating how your import will help improve the status of lions in the wild. If you have asked someone, such as a professional hunting guide, attorney, outfitter, etc., to provide information to us on your behalf, please provide a signed Power of Attorney along with your permit application. Robust permit applications include:

  • Information on the population status or trend data on the species hunted. We will consider population information at the countrywide and ecosystem levels.
  • Information on hunting license or trophy fees paid or to be paid by the hunter and information on how those funds were or will be used by the landowner, local community or government.
  • Information on funding of other activities that are being carried out, or were carried out, by the safari outfitter, professional hunting guide, concession holder, or landowner that provides a conservation benefit to the species hunted or to be hunted (e.g., habitat management or improvement efforts, anti-poaching activities and success of those efforts, efforts to address human-lion conflict, population monitoring, community benefits). Copies of recent reports submitted to government authorities would be particularly helpful. 

Factors the Service Will Consider for Lion Imports

We evaluate each application in accordance with our permits issuance criteria at 50 CFR 17.32(a)(2). As described in the ESA special rule for threatened lions, we consider factors such as those below [see 50 CFR 17.40(r)].

  • Whether the management program is based on sound scientific principles,
  • Whether the management program identifies mechanisms that would arrest the loss of habitat or increase available habitat (i.e., by establishing protected areas and ensuring adequate protection from human encroachment),
  • Whether the management program actively addresses the loss of the lion’s prey base by addressing poaching or unsustainable offtake within the country,
  • Whether government incentives are in place that encourage habitat protection by private landowners and communities and incentives to local communities to reduce the incursion of livestock into protected areas or to actively manage livestock to reduce conflicts with lions, 
  • Whether the hunting component of the management program supports all of these efforts by looking at whether hunting concessions/tracts are managed to ensure the long-term survival of the lion, its prey base, and habitat,
  • Whether trophy hunting provides financial assistance to the wildlife department to carry out elements of the management program and if there is a compensation scheme or other incentives to benefit local communities that may be impacted by lion predation,
  • Whether a U.S. hunter’s participation in the hunting program contributes to the overall management of lions within a country.

We find that the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) document Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives, Ver. 1.0 (IUCN SSC 2012) provides useful principles, which, considered in conjunction with our permit issuance criteria, aid the Service when making findings and determinations regarding import of hunted animals. This document sets out guidance from experts in the field on the use of trophy hunting as a tool for “creating incentives for the conservation of species and their habitats and for the equitable sharing of the benefits of use of natural resources” and recognizes that recreational hunting, particularly trophy hunting, can contribute to biodiversity conservation and more specifically, the conservation of the hunted species.