Trophy hunting is the practice of killing animals and displaying them as trophies on a wall. This frequently debated topic can create polarising views and debates, but by far the majority of the British public wants to see a ban on trophy hunting and especially the UK’s role in this blood sport. The Government has promised as part of its Animal Welfare Action Plan to do something about it - but we need to make sure that there are no loopholes that allow this barbaric industry to thrive.
What is our policy on trophy hunting?
We want to see a total banon the import and export of hunting trophies into the UK, with no loopholes that may assist in the covert trade.
Despite the Governments commitment to end trophy hunting, we need to make sure that there are no exceptions, such as trophies hunted under a ‘conservation enhancement exemption’ or only those that are endangered species, as this will fail to cover issues like canned hunting, where lions are bred in captivity and released for hunts. You can read more about this in our Vicious Cycle report.
Lion numbers have decreased from around 450,000 in the 1950’s to just 15,000 now, with British trophy hunters killing at least 60 lions since the shooting of Cecil in 2015. This cruelty must end. A step like this from the Government would encourage the international community to do the same.
The current state of affairs
While the soon to be published Animal Welfare (Animals Abroad) Bill is set to ban the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals abroad and the Prime Minister’s own personal pledge to “end this barbaric practice”, we do not feel the Government’s commitments go far enough and we need to make sure the Bill, once published, had no loopholes.
This is not an outright ban
Several iconic species would not be included, such as Cape Buffalo (one of Africa’s legendary Big Five species), certain species of zebra, striped hyena, and reindeer.
Conservation exemption puts animals at risk
The Government’s Animal Welfare Action Plan pledges to ensure that UK imports and exports are “not threatening the conservation status of species abroad”. This weak and vague statement would therefore allow UK trophy hunters to claim an exemption on conservation grounds, meaning that critically endangered species like the black rhino could have their parts imported as they could contribute to conservation, where the money goes to local communities and anti-poaching units.
Species that are listed as vulnerable or near threatened will not be included
This mention of “endangered species” only means iconic species such as lions, leopards, giraffe, and hippopotamus will not be included as they are all listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
The import ban does not apply to animals in private keeping
Therefore, captive bred animals can still be killed and imported through canned hunting. Although South Africa has planned to put an end to captive lion breeding, it could take many years to fully implement, meaning that while discussions in South Africa are ongoing, hunters can still import canned lion trophies into the UK.
How you can help
We will continue to keep pressure on ministers and MPs to make sure our concerns are addressed in the newly proposed Animal Welfare (Animals Abroad) Bill when it is published in Parliament, but in the meantime we need your help.
You can contact your local MP to call on them to support this bill when it arrives in the House of Commons, and ensure that all loopholes are closed. You can find out your MP here at Write to Them.