NEWS AND OPINION: Representatives from South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, countries where most of the trophy hunting takes place, are complaining to the British government that they weren’t consulted on the UK’s law which is currently being debated in Parliament to ban the importation of trophies from sport hunting exploits in Africa.
British MPs are debating and voting on the bill on Friday. It is called the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. If it passes through the House of Lords, it will prevent British hunters from bringing home souvenir pelts and heads and other pieces of anatomy that they wish to display in their home as evidence of their prowess and cruelty as far as I’m concerned.
But these five African nations are complaining and they’ve warned the British government that the bill is a great threat to conservation of endangered animals and indeed a greater threat than the sport hunter’s gun.
Their argument is that the money that is paid into these governments for licences to trophy hunt in their country goes into conservation. It is, they argue a pragmatic solution to conservation. The word “pragmatic” is mine. I’m being generous because I am very cynical about the killing of animals to preserve and protect animals. It seems highly illogical to me.
Update 18/03/2023: The House of Commons in the UK Parliament passed the Bill in a vote yesterday and it goes to the House of Lords where it’ll probably pass and then become law. Great. This is the correct outcome in terms of morality. You can’t constantly compromise morality and ethics for commercial success.
All the evidence that I have gleaned from the Internet points to sport hunting having a hugely negative impact on the population sizes of certain iconic species in Africa. So, I don’t see where they get this killing animals to conserve animals argument from. Well actually I do because they simply want the money because the rich trophy hunters have to pay a lot for a licence to kill an iconic animal. And my argument is that most of this goes into the pockets of corrupt officials. Perhaps a little bit trickles down to conservation as a pretence that it actually does something.
But African grassroots groups are complaining as well that it is a form of colonisation mirroring the early era of British colonisation of African nations. And they argue that African nations will be driven towards China and Russia. China is already in Africa in a big way to mine their minerals and other assets such as precious metals which they need for their manufacturing of the world’s products.
The high commissioners of the countries mentioned, have written to Andrew Mitchell, the Minister for Development and Africa saying that: “This bill has the likelihood of reversing and inhibiting long established and sustainable conservation efforts in many African nations.”
They believe that the income from trophy hunting incentivises landowners to protect wildlife from a greater threat: poaching and farming. They believe that trophy hunting is a “useful tool to manage wildlife populations” in the words of Jane Flanagan, the Africa correspondent with The Times newspaper which is the source of this article.
I am far too cynical to believe all this guff. And they sidestep the moral and animal cruelty dimension. It is cruel and it debases the sentience of animals worldwide. It has to bloody well stop.