Review 2023

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United Kingdom – Trophy Hunting (Import Prohibition) Bill

The Trophy Hunting (Import Prohibition) Bill passed virtually unhindered through the United Kingdom House of Commons, only to be thwarted by a handful of unelected peers in the House of Lords in September 2023 – there has been a disingenuous PR campaign against such a hunting trophy import ban led by conservative media outlets.

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs has also received unelected appointees that clearly have the potential for an inbuilt bias – in December 2023, Robbie Douglas-Miller (“a wealthy, unelected shooting enthusiast” who has “backed the culling of seals and wild birdsThe Guardian, 6 December 2023) was appointed as DEFRA’s under-secretary for biosecurity, animal health and welfare. 

Whereas other Sovereign nations have recently moved to ban such imports (for example Canada has blocked the import of ivory, rhino horn and trophies, as have Australia, France and the Netherlands…) the United Kingdom appears to be stuck in a loop – with a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto pledge to bring in such a ban on hunting trophy imports that received overwhelming public support (greater than 80% of the public agreed with such a ban). As we end 2023 there is no legislative timetable for such a promise to finally be enacted in the United Kingdom.

Andrew & Carri Ann Mueller are ‘hunting partners.’

He killed this leopard as a ‘wedding gift’ for her via Legadema Hunting & Safaris


The killing of leopards (for example) for fun/trophies still appears to be condoned by the United Kingdom. As highlighted in  IWB’s 2023 submission to South Africa, killing leopards is not conservation but often excused because “Leopards are an important component of international hunting packages, making such packages internationally competitive” (sic) [‘Draft Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros’ para 6.3, page 11, Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Republic of South Africa, 19 September 2023].  These are commercial arguments, not ones based on conservation (IWB, Para 1.3). The same applies to much of trophy hunting and the industry that surrounds it.

Captive Rhino Breeding

Good news. John Hume’s captive herd of some 2,000 rhinos were sold in September 2023 to African Parks:

The opportunity is endless. They have massive ecological value, the ability to maintain and shape landscapes … as well as economic value, for tourism, and community value. It’s a massive undertaking for conservation, but the end vision is a massive win” – “Sold: 2,000 captive southern white rhino destined for freedom across Africa,” The Guardian, 1 December 2023

These rhinoceros are no longer a speculative commodity based upon a return on investment from the ‘hope’ of a bonanza resulting from a legal international trade in rhino horn being sanctioned by CITES – but, a valuable conservation resource in their own right (for example to repopulate the black rhino in Chad).

However, stockpiling of rhino horn (and ivory) continues within South Africa (for example) – with the recent Draft Policy Position keeping the speculative spectre of a legal international trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn alive:

South Africa’s policy of demanding (unprompted by the international CITES community) started in 2014 when the Republic of South Africa, Department: Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued “The viability of legalising trade in rhino horn in South Africa” and presented it to CITES CoP. The policy presented to CITES 2013/14 is embedded in providing income to the State (from the sale of stockpiles) and profits to a handful of speculative rhino breeders that decided (of their own volition) to speculate on the future lifting of the 1997 CITES ban on international trade in rhino horn – not driven by an altruistic conservation imperative.

There is no conclusive evidence to support the theory that legal trade deters illegal trade – legal trade gives illegal trade opportunities to flourish in parallel (ref IWB’s HLP Submission, para 12.5).

Captive Big Cat Breeding

The Republic of South Africa, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and The Environment (DFFE) issued its “Draft Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros” – Government Gazette, No. 49322, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), dated 19 September 2023.

The Policy Position ((1), page 5) “to end the captive keeping of lions for commercial purposes and close captive lion facilities, put a halt to the intensive breeding of lion in controlled environments, and end the commercial exploitation of captive and captive-bred lion” is long overdue and welcomed (“IWB’s HLP Submission,” para 9.2 “Captive Lion Breeding (CLB) – Calls for Closure”).

It is understood that “The minister has put in place a lion advisory panel which is attempting to assess the captive lion population and looking into voluntary exit plans for breeders” (“Government opens public comments on policy to end captive lion breeding,” Daily Maverick, 26 September 2023). The recommendations of the advisory panel are awaited.

An end to the cruel lion bone trade is hopefully imminent (“Putting a stop to cruelty – Lion Bone Trade,” August 2023)

Of course, it’s not just lions that are bred in captivity for speculative purposes – in October 2023 the “Roadmap to Closing Captive Tiger Facilities of Concern” reiterated the ongoing abuse of “at least 8,900 tigers being held in more than 300 facilities in East and Southeast Asia” and “significant concerns around captive tiger facilities and their role in the tiger trade in Myanmar, South Africa, and some EU Member States, as well as the large captive tiger population in the United States. 

The abuse is ongoing and shames humanity, but some are lucky enough to escape to sanctuary – in March 2023 “Saving Sally: Trophy Hunters, Secrets & Lies” gave an insight into the trophy hunting industry’s dark and macabre world and how through this journey into that abyss, Sally a tiger cub ‘bred for the bullet’ in South Africa was saved into sanctuary from the hunter’s bullet(s)/arrows – many more animals bred in canned hunting facilities continue to face the threat of being killed for trophy hunter’s thrills.

Amazon Books link: “Saving Sally: Trophy Hunters Secrets and Lies

Scottish Wildcat

Scottish Ministers granted permission for the Vattenfall windfarm development 26 June 2023:


Scottish Ministers agree with the Reporter that while significant adverse effects on the  wildcat population at Clashindarroch are predicted the proposed mitigation measures (including species protection and on-site and off-site habitat improvements) would render the residual effects negligible to minor” – page 13

This decision has been appealed “**Case Update – 09/10/2023** This decision has been appealed to the Court of Session” – legal appeal (Judicial review) has already passed the permission threshold for continuing to a full hearing to be held on the 18th January 2024.

There is also reports of illegal logging whereby “Vattenfall are now under Investigation by Aberdeenshire council” – Wildcat Haven, 20 December 2023

Forever Chemicals

This is an ongoing subject that enters the annual review and has a negative impact on every living thing on the planet – the chemical industry’s failed ‘self-regulation’ has left an enduring legacy of toxic pollution, embedding harmful ‘forever chemicals’ in the air, water and soil around the world – chemicals such as PFAS and PFOS, or per-and-polyfluoroalkyl a poorly ‘regulated’ chemical created (pioneered by 3M) and used by the DuPont Chemical Company in the manufacture C8/Teflon.

Per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of about 10,000 chemicals valued for their non-stick and detergent properties which have made their way into water, soils and sediments from a wide range of consumer products  (from frying pans, fabric treatments to cosmetics), firefighting foams, waste and industrial processes. The resulting toxic pollution has been linked to severe illnesses …including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and pregnancy-induced hypertension. And more recent studies are now raising concerns that some of these forever chemicals may negatively impact our endocrine system, our fertility, and our immune system – and possibly even the efficacy of vaccines” (The poison found in everyone, even unborn babies – and who is responsible for it,” Robert Bilott, (author and Partner, Taft Stettinius & Hollister, LLP), The Guardian, 17 December 2020).

A 2023 report (“In our blood: how the US allowed toxic chemicals to seep into our lives,” The Guardian, 13 September 2023) highlighted the ongoing dangers in the United States. Despite a recent 3M, DuPont, Chemours and Corteva initial financial settlementthe clean up is still in its infancy.

The toxic chemicals have been found to be widespread throughout the UK and Europe (UK mapping link available here) in animals/the food chain and throughout the globe – “even animals in remote parts of the world that are far from industrial sources, such as penguins in Antarctica or polar bears in the Arctic, can be contaminated with high levels of PFAS” (“Alarming toxic ‘forever chemicals’ found in animals’ blood – study,” The Guardian, 22 February 2023).

Hopefully, we are starting to turn a corner in terms of ending the negative impacts of fossil fuels and science can develop cost-effective solutions to help kick start a co-ordinated and all inclusive clean up of the toxic ‘forever chemicals’ legacy…..let’s hope it’s not too little too late:

“There’s that old parable: ‘When’s the best time to plant a shade tree?’” – “The answer is 20 years ago. But the second best time is now” –  Philip Landrigan, epidemiologist and director of Boston College’s global public health program and Global Observatory on Planetary Health, The Guardian, September 2023

Wild Justice  

IWB continues to support Wild Justice and the issues it highlights and litigates – such as the recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Public Consultation on Lead in Ammunition and Wild Justice’s advice and arguments on the subject.


Best wishes to all animal advocates for 2024.


Further Reading

If the captive big cat industry is left to thrive, species harm will be irreparable,” Daily Maverick, 23 January 2024

Could This Sound The Needed Death Knell On The Legal Horn Debate?,” Nature Needs More, 12 January 2024

Scottish wildcats: Aberdeen wind farm decision goes to judicial review,” (Pay Wall) The Herald, 8 January 2024

I thought most of us were going to die from the climate crisis. I was wrong,” The Guardian, 2 January 2024

Texan arrested in South Africa after police say they found 26 rhino carcasses on his ranch,” The Independent, 30 December 2023

US national arrested in South Africa on wildlife trafficking, weapons charges,” ABC News, 29 December 2023

‘Slaughterhouse’ of rhinos found in animal activist’s ranch,” The Metro, 28 December 2023

The demise of the UK trophy hunting import bill and the need to have it revived,” Pieter Kat (Lion Aid),

Ban imports of hunting trophies of endangered animals” – Petition, UK Government and Parliament





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