Brian da Cal, Director at FOUR PAWS UK, responded to the publication of Defra’s Animal Welfare Action Plan, saying:
“We were promised a ban that sent a message to the world. We were told Britain wanted to be a world leader on the subject. Instead, we have a plan that is possibly worse than the status quo.
The government has announced through the Action Plan for Animal Welfare that it will ban trophy imports only of endangered species. This is despite 85% of voters wanting a total ban while just 3% want a ban that covers only endangered species. Why is the government set on defying public opinion and putting the lives of thousands of animals in the hands of the hunters?
Let us be clear – what has been presented today is not a ban. At best it represents no change to the current system. At worst it opens the door to shooting critically endangered species such as black rhinos. Even canned lions (lions bred to be shot in enclosed spaces) would fall through this new regime, and that is something that even the mainstream hunting industry despises.
“We call on the government to urgently and radically revise its position on trophy hunting. Until then we cannot stop campaigning to shut down this abhorrent industry.”
The current system requires Defra to issue import permits for trophies from threatened species in order to ensure that taking the trophy is not ‘detrimental’ to species conservation. The new policy being proposed is the same – except there are now plans under consideration which would allow wealthy hunters to import trophies of critically endangered species such as the black rhino on the grounds that they could make a contribution to conservation. The last black rhino to enter Britain under the current regime was in 2008, and this ‘conservation enhancement’ loophole has proved detrimental in other countries.
A similar ‘conservation enhancement’ principle was adopted in the US and led to several black rhino trophies being imported. When this began, there were approximately 5,000 black rhinos in the world. There are currently a little over 3,000.
The same principle also led to the resumption of lion, elephant and polar bear trophy imports into the US, which had previously been stopped. Will this be the case for the UK? World leaders in banning trophy hunting imports, unless the price is right?