Politicians often feel like their heads are lodged in a lion’s mouth.

But the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has sparked outrage from animal activists after auctioning off the king of the wild cats to raise party funds.

The skin and head of the lioness will be auctioned at the Eurosceptic party’s gathering in Eastbourne at the start of its annual conference.

A spokesman for the UK charity Lionaid said it was “shocked, dismayed, appalled and above all saddened” by the news.

He added: “This is in the worst of all possible taste. You don’t sell trophies onward, and the legality of that needs to be questioned.

“We will not accept UKIP profiting from trade in lion trophies.”

The spokesman demanded the item be confiscated and an investigation to see how the trophy came into the UK.

The trophy is listed as: “The skin, with head, of a lioness shot in Zimbabwe. (Reserve £200). Donated by Geoffrey Clark (who did not shoot it!).”

The highest bid stood at £250 as The Argus went to press last night.

Nigel Carter, deputy chairman of UKIP Brighton and Hove, said: “I have no idea where it came from.

“It’s probably some sort of ancient piece somebody does not want anymore.

“Obviously we’re against any sort of unwanton destruction of animals unless there’s some form of nationwide cull.”

About 1,000 delegates are expected at the two-day gathering in Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre