TROPHY HUNTING: CONSERVATION & ANIMAL WELFARE GROUPS CALL ON GOVERNMENT TO SET OUT ITS PLANS
A coalition of Britain’s leading conservation and animal welfare groups are calling on the government to publish a timetable for banning trophy hunting imports [the UK public consultation ended in February 2020].
Today (Thursday 2nd July) marks the 5th anniversary of the shooting of Cecil the lion. Official figures from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) indicate that a further 6,000 lions have been shot by trophy hunters since 2015. The current estimated population of lions in the wild is 20,000 [or less].
Over a dozen of the country’s leading conservation and animal welfare groups said today that the government should use the anniversary of Cecil’s death to publish its proposals for stopping the trade of animal body parts brought home by hunters as ‘souvenirs’.
The government pledged to ban trophy hunting imports in the 2019 Queens Speech and in the Conservative election manifesto. Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeated the pledge at Prime Ministers Questions on February 12, 2020. Several MPs have written to Ministers asking the government about its plans following the end of a public consultation in February but no details have been released. Figures from CITES show dozens of lions’ bodies and body parts have been brought home by British hunters after a previous pledge by the government to ban lion trophy imports was quietly dropped.
An investigation by Channel 4 News, broadcast on Wednesday 1 July, revealed that British hunting industry groups admit that ‘artificial selection’ by hunters is causing conservation problems, and that hunting operators believe there is a case for the trophy hunting of [wild] tigers:
Ricky Gervais and other celebrities have given their support to campaigns to end the UK trade in hunting trophies.
Isobel Hutchinson, Director, Animal Aid, said: ‘A UK ban on trophy hunting imports is long overdue. While we are heartened that the government has indicated some support for such a ban, we are disappointed by the slow pace of progress on this matter. If the government is serious about protecting vulnerable wild animals then it must demonstrate that by moving swiftly to implement a ban. As we reach the fifth anniversary of the appalling killing of Cecil the lion, there has never been a more fitting time to address this critical issue.’
Stephen Wiggins, Founder, International Wildlife Bond, said: “If we want to save wildlife for future generations to see in the wild, first we need to end needless wildlife attrition for profit/fun.“
Mark Jones, Head of Policy at the Born Free Foundation, said: “Cecil the lion was just one of the hundreds of thousands of wild animals killed by trophy hunters every year, many from species that are threatened with extinction. This brutal, corrupt and damaging industry must be brought to an end. It’s high time for the UK Government to make good on its promises and ban the import and export of hunting trophies; the world’s beleaguered wild animals simply can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Claire Bass, Humane Society International/UK’s executive director, says: “Cecil’s senseless killing exposed trophy hunting as immensely cruel, completely unnecessary and morally bankrupt. And yet, five years on from his tragic death, Britain and the European Union are still providing a market for this horrific hobby by allowing the lifeless trophies of these once magnificent animals to be imported. The EU is top of the world’s lion trophy import hall of shame and, despite overwhelming public support, the UK government is dragging its heels on delivering the promised ban. It is time to pull the trigger on the perverse pastime that is trophy hunting.”
Steve Travis, CEO of Protecting African Lions, said: “The lion is the imperial symbol of courage, spirit and awesome power of Mother Nature, not a social media cub petting fantasy or a walking with lions experience. Lions are most certainly not a commodity bred to be shot and used as a trophy on a wall or their bones to be used for “so called” medicine. Trophy hunting and canned lion breeding has to be banned immediately along with the trade in their bones.”
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International: “The prolonged and brutal killing of Cecil exposed the sickening reality of trophy hunting. Threatening the very survival of the African lion and countless others, this brutal and wasteful pastime must end. The animals are out of time and need action, not promises. The UK must stop the import of hunting trophies now.”
Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting – and author of “KILLING GAME: The Extinction Industry,” which has been published on the anniversary of Cecil’s death – added: “The hunting industry’s own data shows that trophy hunters are inflicting the opposite of natural selection on wildlife. They are shooting the biggest and ‘fittest’ animals, as they make for the most impressive trophies to display. They are also doing so because the industry’s Records Books say you have to shoot large lions to get into the industry’s coveted ‘roll call’. This is accelerating the collapse in wildlife populations such as lions, whose numbers have plummeted by 95% over the last half century. This is a very real danger we could soon see the first big cat extinction since the prehistoric sabre-tooth tiger.”
For more information contact Eduardo Goncalves [email protected] tel +44 (0)782 682 4384
“Trophy hunting is a colonial hangover that should be consigned to the history books,” Luke Pollard MP, The Independent, 13 October 2020