Government unveils ban on trophy hunting imports but campaigners denounce delays

A lion and cub
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The government has announced long-awaited plans to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals, with campaigners welcoming the measures but denouncing delays.

More delays

The proposed law – which will prevent British big game hunters from bringing home body parts of some 7,000 species including lions, rhinos, elephants, and polar bears – comes two years after the government pledged to introduce the ban. Since then, around 300 trophies from endangered animals have been shipped to the UK, according to the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.

The campaign’s founder Eduardo Goncalves noted that the government has not specified a timetable for implementing the legislation. He told the PA news agency:

The Bill, as far as we’ve seen, looks to be in pretty good shape, but it has been two years since it was originally announced in the Queen’s Speech, and many animals have been cruelly and needlessly killed in that time.

So it is really imperative for the Government to bring the Bill to Parliament as quickly as possible.

Read on...

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Goncalves said ministers had told him the bill could come to Parliament next “spring or summer”, by which time “potentially another 100 or more animals will be killed and their trophies brought back to Britain”.

He said:

Delay costs lives: every week that goes by without this ban means more animals, including endangered species, are being shot by British hunters, and their trophies brought back to the country. Some of these species are careering towards extinction and certainly, the British public are very strongly opposed to trophy hunting.

Hunting trophies
Trophy hunters kill wild animals for recreation and display their spoils – such as horns, antlers, hides or heads (Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting/PA)

“Long overdue”

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy at animal charity Born Free, echoed the need for urgency.

He told PA:

This announcement is long overdue, and we urge the Government to introduce and implement the legislation as quickly as possible.

The campaigners urged the government to speed things up by supporting Labour MP John Spellar’s bid to introduce legislation when his Private Member’s Bill to ban hunting trophy imports returns to the House of Commons on 10 December. But Jones said that was unlikely, and that the government was expected to table the bill as part of its Animals Abroad Bill next year.

The ban is set to be one of the toughest in the world, according to environment secretary George Eustice, who said it would go beyond the government’s manifesto commitment by including near-threatened and threatened species, as well as endangered ones. He said:

We will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation

A less than total ban

The ban is set to apply whether or not a trophy has been obtained from a wild animal or one bred in captivity specifically for the purpose of trophy hunting. Breaching the rules could land hunters in prison for up to five years.

Campaigners said they would have preferred a total ban on the import of hunting trophies on moral and ethical grounds rather than the government’s focus on threatened animals.

Jones said:

We’re very pleased to see the UK finally promising this kind of action – doesn’t go as far as we’d like it to go, but it’s certainly a very big step in the right direction.

In this day and age, with biodiversity and wildlife in crisis and so many species at risk of extinction, we have to move away from this kind of colonial paradigm that the only way to realise value for wildlife is to allow relatively wealthy, western hunters to pay to kill it.

Goncalves said:

My ideal would have been a total ban, but if we were to score this like a school paper, I would give it an A-.

He said he hoped the bill would initiate international action, with Britain working with other countries to call for an end to trophy hunting worldwide.

To raise pressure on MPs to enforce the ban, his Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting is sending them a book with photos of British hunters and their spoils. He said:

There is sometimes a misperception that trophy hunting is what Americans do. The reality is that British trophy hunters are among the world’s most notorious elephant hunters.

Original plans for the new law banning hunting trophies were sparked by the shooting of Cecil the Lion in 2015 by American dentist Walter Palmer at a reserve in Zimbabwe. In 2019, the government consulted on a ban which received overwhelming public support. Writing for The Canary, Tracy Keeling has written extensively on the delay since then. She’s also reported on the ivory trade, writing in August this year:

A group of NGOs recently wrote to the government over the unjustifiable delay. As they point out, other countries have since taken steps “to introduce domestic ivory trade bans”. So, rather than being a ‘world leader’ on the matter, the UK now risks lagging behind others in cracking down on the trade.

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  • Show Comments
    1. If I have 200 zebras on my game farm, bred for hunting and meat (say, about 40 mobs of 5, each consisting of 1 stallion and 4 mares). When they were born, they were born 50:50 male/female, so my 40 males and 160 females today were actually born 160 of each.
      So, 120 stallions became surplus – they would do nothing except fight breeding stallions to get to the mares, and in any case they eat grass better used on breeding mares. They had to go.
      I might sell 10 live for restocking if they were fine specimens, say £300 each. Next, I might, if lucky, be able to sell 50 to visiting foreign trophy hunters at say £200 each. Next come the local meat hunters who don’t eat a huge amount of zebra, but 20 were prepared to pay £100 each to shoot a zebra, take some meat and keep the skin for a rug. Last of all, the remaining 80 were sold to a meat contractor who shot them, skinned them and refrigerated them on site and paid £20 each.
      All were plains Zebras. They are not endangered (there’s at least 250,000) – they were surplus farm stock.
      The 50 foreign trophy hunters employed locals as trackers, skinners and porters, added £10,000 to my farm income, took trophies and skins home but left the meat for the locals who ate it with great joy.
      Another 20 skins went home with local hunters. Ten took some meat, the rest was eaten locally. Yum.
      The last 80 skins went to a tannery and became rugs, while ten heads and six legs went off to a local taxidermist friend to become decorative items. Some bits were left out for the vultures and a local lion farm collected the inedible guts, bits and remnants
      If a ban made law in the UK, most of my trophy hunters won’t come. They will go somewhere else – perhaps to hunt deer in the perfidious UK. I lose £10,000 and have to fire three staff.
      The taxidermy items and rugs are not trophies (they are by-products of the meat industry), but they will be banned UK imports as “endangered”, so the tannery doesn’t want zebra skins – they only buy goat skins now.. Without his tourist/export market the local taxidermist goes out of business and takes six skilled jobs with him.
      I decide that keeping wildlife is no longer viable as a farming operation, so I shoot all the farm wildlife, including the zebras, bulldoze and plough the land and grow organic quinoa (or whatever) instead. Photo tourists won’t travel for hours to my farm in Flat Dusty Hotville to see some zebras – they want elephants and lions and rhinos. Oh, and swimming pools, golf courses, evening cinemas, hotel accommodation, emergency cover and shops full of souvenirs. And lots of water.
      Thousands of wld animals, reptiles, insects, and other creatures, plus hundreds of acres of bush are thus all obliterated. It’s a farm, not a charity. I have bills and staff to pay.

      Please explain how this idiotic ban helped the wildlife of Southern Africa?
      Now explain it to the thousands of remote rural people who rely on trophy hunting income whose ives will now become much more difficult. Don’t bother to go down on one knee, pious foreign people.
      Sadly, there are no starving conservationists.

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