UK import ban on hunting trophies aims to protect 7,000 species


British hunters engaged in the cruel and ugly sport of big game hunting may soon find themselves legally unable to return home with their trophies.

Two years after first announcing an initial exploration of the idea, the UK government is finally moving forward with legislation that will completely ban trophy hunting imports. Scheduled for submission to parliament in early spring or summer, the bill, described as one of the toughest in the world, aims to protect more than 7,000 species threatened by international trade.

“We welcome the government’s commitment today to an import ban on hunting trophies into the UK that will protect thousands of species, including lions, elephants and giraffes, which have been ruthlessly targeted. by trophy hunters, “Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK, said in a statement. . “We are also pleased that he ruled out loopholes that would have allowed hunters to continue shipping their sick memories.”

According to the All-Parliamentary Group on Banning Trophy Hunting (APPG), British hunters have imported more than 25,000 trophies since the 1980s. Of these, 5,000 were from endangered species, including lions, elephants, black rhinos, white rhinos, cheetahs, polar bears and leopards.

“It cannot be fair that British hunters can pay to kill endangered wildlife overseas and ship the trophies home,” Born Free policy director Dr Mark Jones said. “While the UK is by no means the largest destination for international hunting trophies, UK-based hunters frequently travel overseas to kill animals for fun, including endangered species. ‘extinction. The proposed ban will send a clear signal that the UK does not condone the brutal killing of endangered wildlife for this so-called ‘sport’ by UK citizens. ”

A movement sparked by tragedy

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia

The most recent genesis of a concerted effort by environmentalists to pressure the UK to ban imports of hunting trophies dates back to July 1, 2015. On that date, a famous male African lion named Cecil was lured out of a protected area and killed with an arrow from American hunter Walter Palmer. The outrage that followed sent shockwaves around the world, encouraging support for conservation groups against the big game hunt and urging governments to act.

Two years later, Cecil’s son Xanda met the same fate.

A 2019 study on the impact of Cecil’s death found that while it had not resulted in large-scale policy change, it had accelerated policy reform in some countries.

“The fact that Cecil was a lion provided conservation and animal rights activists with a common focal point for concerns and advocacy, and the wide media coverage of the event meant that the public and policy makers alike took simultaneously aware of Cecil’s death, “the researchers wrote.

While pro-hunting groups have argued for years that organized trophy hunts help fund conservation efforts, mismanagement and corruption often prevent such good intentions from having a huge impact.

“Killing the largest or the strongest animals, which play an important ecological role in genetic diversity and resilience, jeopardizes the conservation of species, disrupts social structures in herds and weakens the genetic pools of animal populations. savages already face a myriad of threats, “writes Dr. Jo Swabe. for Humane Society International. “The conservation argument is a sham employed by people who know it’s disreputable to admit that they just love killing animals for fun, tasteless selfies. With so much at stake and the vast majority of EU citizens opposed to the murder, it is time for EU member states to ban trophy imports.

Environmentalists warn “delays will cost lives”

While the new UK law is a giant step in the right direction, environmentalists warn delays in passing it will have consequences as hunters scramble to kill and import trophies ahead of the ban.

“Delay costs lives: every week that passes without this ban means that more animals, including endangered species, are slaughtered by British hunters and their trophies are brought back to the country”, Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the Campaign to ban trophy hunting, told the National Observer. “Some of these species are on the verge of extinction, and certainly the British public is very strongly opposed to trophy hunting.”

Even if the ban goes into effect next summer, Gonçalves adds, up to 100 endangered animals could be killed and brought back to Britain in the meantime.

“It is really imperative that the government submit the bill to Parliament as quickly as possible,” he urged.


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