The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, sponsored by Henry Smith MP [draft bill published 23 November 2022] was read in the United Kingdom House of Commons on 25 November 2022 [Parliament Live TV achieve (10:49 onwards) link and/or the transcript].
[Update] The bill passed Committee stage 25 January 2023, the Report Stage/3rd Reading is pencilled in for March 17.
[Update] The debate/reading of Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, has ended. The bill was clearly supported within the Chamber today, 25 November 2022, with the exception of one lone voice, Sir Bill Wiggin MP (North Herefordshire) and since 2006, President of the Association of Professional Shooting Instructors (APSI) (but he only acknowledged this in Members’ Registered Interests 1 November 2018). Sir Bill Wiggin MP’s arguments in today’s debate included the absurd suggestion that any persons/country seeking to control its imports should be construed as racist apparently if such restrictions encompass the African continent – the remainder of his ‘points’ have already been countered and within IWB’s submission to the consultation etc. The desperate racist smear suggested by Sir Bill Wiggin MP on those that do not agree with his views is perhaps a new low for the pro-trophy hunting campaign.
Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill – As Introduced, published 23 November 2022
Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill 2022-23, Research Briefing No. 9684, House of Commons Library, 24 November 2022
The bill will encompass the prohibition of import into Great Britain of the “body of an animal, or a readily recognisable part or derivative of an animal” from thousands of species/sub-species – as listed in Annex A and B Species of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation, subject to exceptions or addition at the behest of the Secretary of State.
“2 Animals to which the import prohibition relates
(1) This Act applies to—
(a) an animal of a species listed in Annex A or B [Link Annex A and B Species] of the Principal Wildlife Trade Regulation, subject to such exceptions as may be specified in regulations made by the Secretary of State, and
(b) an animal of such other species as may be so specified.” ie. “Additional endangered and threatened species not covered by these regulations but subject to hunting and of particular conservation concern” – as per DEFRA’s Policy Response, 10 December 2021
[Update] Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, said;
“The public has voiced their concern at the thought of hunters bringing back trophies. That is why the Government made a manifesto commitment to ban this and has supported Henry Smith’s Bill. The ban will be one of the toughest in the world, cracking down on imports of horns, furs, tusks and other features of animals” – Henry Smith MP’s webpage, 25 November 2022
The UK Ivory Bill (2018) took 4 years to enact – with overwhelming voter support and 86% of those that submitted to the public consultation supporting such a ban, the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill will hopefully receive swift passage through both houses and expedited enactment.
Take action now. Help make sure all MPs support this law by writing to your own MP today.
Assessing hunting trophy imports via a ‘smart ban’ on a case-by-case basis – the pitfalls
Some pro-hunting advocates have called for a ‘smart ban’ (sic) rather than an all-pervasive prohibition of a given species’ hunting trophy importation. Any ‘smart ban’ introduction into the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill (at committee stage [due 18 January 2023] for example) is unlikely to work in practice and opens up potential loop-holes for exploitation. Plus, rejecting a given hunting trophy via a ‘smart ban’ does not bring the victim animal back to life – it’s dead regardless and removed from its species’ gene pool forever. An all-pervasive prohibition has the potential to dissuade the hunter from killing that same animal in the first place – without the prospect of bringing their victim home as a trophy to brag about, hang on a wall and reminisce about etc., then the killing provides less prospect of enduring self-gratification for the hunter.
Where is the data going to come from to enable an independently verifiable cases-by case analysis?
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) – the UK’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Scientific Authority – would need to be resourced to assess on a case-by-case basis. How are the criteria for ‘permitted’ and ‘not permitted’ trophies to be set? Most relevant data comes from the range states where a trophy is harvested (or at least where the accompanying paperwork suggests it was harvested – see below). The data available is sporadic, often subject to scientific caveats on the accuracy possible and how that data should be interpreted (ie. not taken as a Gospel truth, but treated with caution). How can the JNCC independently assess any such data as valid and not a fiction to support a notion of sustainability/conservation/trophy hunting income? Or should the JNCC continue to rely on the validity of a CITES issued permit as proof, when the corruption of CITES’ processes is well known? Who will fund the detailed analysis (the UK taxpayer, or a given trophy hunter upon application?) required for each case to assess “strict ethical & sustainability criteria, including demonstrating meaningful conservation benefits, with habitat conservation as a key criterion” as advocated by Dickman et al.?
“As a result, it is difficult to confidently conclude that any particular trophy import would enhance the survival of a species“ – “Missing the Mark – African trophy hunting fails to show consistent conservation benefits, page 21“
Who will police for fraudulent trophies (Ammann 2015, EMS Foundation 2018) ‘harvested’ in one non-sustainable region, but transported over a border and a paper based CITES permit obtained suggesting potential compliance with import criteria?
It should be borne in mind that the trophy hunting industry has had decades to reach the promised nirvana of universal “well-regulated” trophy hunting, but has failed through greed, corruption and a masquerade of ‘conservation’ imperatives. An example of how quotas can be manipulated/fabricated to support the trophy hunting industry are given in the articles “Are Lion Trophy Hunting Quotas Based on Science?” “How Can ‘We’ Save the African Lion, Panthera Leo? (Para 11)?” and the following example:
“Plenty left to kill” – evident in 2011 when in partnership with a pro-hunting lobby group, Safari Club International (SCI), Namibia launched a census “to manage the sustainability of the leopard population.” The limited returns from the farmers’ census were extrapolated, producing a flawed national estimate of leopards of over 14,000 leopards – giving the notion that there were ‘plenty left to persecute/kill.’ The reality is leopards are a shy and elusive species, there is no feasible means to accurately estimate the population, let alone such a high estimate to justify the killing. Namibia has a CITES trophy hunted export quota of 250 leopards per year, a questionable figure, according to experts of the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), because it is based on “insufficient ecological information and lack of scientific data.”
Would a ‘smart ban’ assess a hunting trophy of a species sub-population, or would that be ignored?
If a given species’ overall population numbers is taken as the starting point for deciding which species should be subject to hunting trophy imports into the UK, then such analysis also needs to consider sub-population levels, not just an overall species’ population level – trophy hunting can deplete (and eliminate) a given species’ sub-population. So just looking at headline species’ population figures can be deceptive in terms of sub-population species’ conservation:
“Scientists report that trophy hunting can affect a specific, localised population of a given species in many ways: by reducing the number of animals in the population, by reducing the population’s reproductive capacity, and by altering the ecosystem where the species resides” – House Committee on Natural Resources, 2016 – “Missing the Mark – African trophy hunting fails to show consistent conservation benefits“
The EU’s Scientific Review Group (SRG) re-expressed (September 2018) a “Negative opinion for import of specimens” from the Kane Basin subpopulation for Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from Canada. Any UK species specific trophy import restrictions needs to also reflect any given species’ sub-population issues if species conservation in the wider context is the imperative.
In Katavi, Tanzania the estimated lion numbers were recorded as zero in 2014, from a population of 1,118 in 1993 (UNEP, 2015). It should be noted, that from 2010, 41 adult males (less than five years old) had been “harvested” for trophies in Katavi. Could this excessive trophy hunting of young male lions have been the end of the Katavi sub-population?
“Trophy Hunting was reported to have contributed to population declines outside of (and within some) protected areas of Tanzania (Lindsey et al. 2013) and was considered by Packer et al. 2011 to pose the greatest threat to the populations in Trophy Hunting areas.”
Allowing a system of subjective ‘smart ban’ (sic) assessment and convenient loop-holes to perpetuate hunting trophy imports is highly unlikely to serve any conservation purpose whatsoever.
“Top wildlife expert blasts ‘stupid’ trophy hunters as imports ban gathers pace,” The Mirror, 29 November 2022
“We must end hunting trophy imports for good,” The House, 25 November 2022
“Tory MP in bid to stop trophy hunters bringing back ‘sick souvenirs’ with imports ban,” The Express, 25 November 2022
“HUNTING TROPHIES (IMPORT PROHIBITION BILL) COMPLETES 2ND READING IN PARLIAMENT,” Born Free Foundation, 25 November 2022
“Tory MP compares vile trophy hunters to paedophiles as ban passes first hurdle,” The Mirror, 25 November 2022
“Tory MP claims ban on hunting trophy imports is ‘racist’,” The National.Scot, 25 November 2022
“Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill 2022-23,” Research Briefing, House of Commons Library, 24 November 2022
“TV rat-catcher Ricky Clark shamed as ‘serial killer’ of African wildlife,” The Times, 23 November 2022
“Tory MP fighting to stop sick trophy hunting imports asks YOU to back his battle,” The Mirror, 22 November 2022
“Trophy hunting puts South Africa’s tourism industry in peril,” World Animal Protection, August 2022 – “Research reveals South African citizens, international, and UK tourists want to see an end to trophy hunting.”
The key findings from the research revealed…
- 84% of international and 88% of UK tourists agreed that the South African government should prioritise wildlife-friendly tourism over trophy hunting.
- 74% of international and 79% of UK tourists agreed that making trophy hunting a key pillar of policy will damage South Africa’s reputation, and 72% (UK 77%) would be put off from visiting the country altogether.
- 7 in 10 South African citizens agree their country would be a more attractive tourist destination if they banned trophy hunting.
- Three-quarters (74%) of South African citizens agree that trophy hunting is unacceptable when wildlife-friendly tourism alternatives have not been fully utilised.
“End trophy hunting in South Africa, or we won’t visit your country, say tourists,” Daily Maverick, 31 August 2022
“Trophy Hunting & Britain: The Case for a Ban,” IWB, 29 June 2022
“UK Voters Overwhelmingly Support a Hunting Trophy Import Ban,” IWB, 14 March 2022
“Why Britain should Ban Hunting Trophies ASAP,” IWB, 7 January 2022
“UK Consultation on Hunting Trophies,” IWB, 10 December 2021
““We must end this barbaric practice”” IWB 21 July 2021
“New Poll Shows Overwhelming Support for a Total UK Hunting Trophy Import Ban,” IWB, 26 April 2021
“Is ‘celebrity power’ undermining global conservation efforts?,” IWB, 21 January 2021
“Safari Club International’s Plan to Colonize Africa’s Hunting Grounds,” IWB, Jared Kukura, Wild Things Initiative, 31 October 2020
“Reply-Guys Go Hunting: An Investigation into a U.S. Astroturfing Operation on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” Stanford Internet Observatory, Cyber Policy Centre, 8 October 2020
“Informing the Debate on Trophy Hunting,” IWB, 17 July 2020
“Call on UK Government – Hunting Trophy Import/Export Ban,” 2 July 2020
“Consultation on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies,” IWB, 4 November 2019