Last week I joined with 68 other Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to call on the Government to ban the importing of hunting trophies. Hunting trophies are body parts (often the head) taken from animals that have been shot and killed by trophy hunters.
These hunters often focus on the magnificent and endangered animals of Sub-Saharan Africa such as elephants, white rhinos, leopards, cheetahs and lions.
A study in 2016 by the Conservation Action Trust found that all of these species have seen large falls in numbers in recent years and that was linked directly to trophy hunting. They concluded that the large number of trophy kills is unjustifiable in conservation terms and that legal trophy hunting provides a cover for illegal poaching.
Trophy hunting is a cruel and unfair sport for the sick amusement of those gunning down these wild creatures. These animals are needed for reproduction and social cohesion in their populations and their loss is irreplaceable.
What is all this blood and death for? For a trophy to hang on the wall. The head of a lion or the tusk of an elephant that never had a chance against a hunter armed with a deadly modern rifle.
It is not for the UK to instruct other countries, such as those where trophy hunting frequently takes place, how to run their affairs, but we can change our own border rules and stop hunters bringing these ‘trophies’ back into the UK.
The Tory Government are once again dragging their feet while elephants, rhinos and lions head further down the path to extinction every day. But the Labour Party has pledged in our 50 point animal welfare plan to ban the import of hunting trophies from all animals that are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered, and from those classified as endangered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
You can find the full text and a link to the Motion I supported below:
Early Day Motion 1829
That this House notes with concern that hundreds of hunting trophies have been imported into the UK in recent years, including from species threatened with extinction such as elephants, lions, hippopotamuses, leopards and rhinoceroses; further notes that trophy hunting is having a negative effect on wildlife through the loss of significant numbers of healthy individuals that are key to the survival of rapidly declining populations, that unsustainable rates of trophy hunting have caused some populations of Africa’s big cats to decline, and that hunting and poaching of elephants is outpacing their rate of reproduction; considers that trophy hunting is cruel, immoral, archaic and unjustifiable, and can act as a cover for illegal poaching; further considers that a global end to trophy hunting is desirable, and that nature tourism is a humane and more effective means of conserving wildlife and supporting local communities; and calls on the Government to commit to halting imports of hunting trophies as a matter of urgency.