In an earlier post I reported on the news that the British government is well on the way to introducing legislation which bans the importation of hunting trophies of often iconic species from Africa but they are dithering. These animals are killed for the pleasure of it by sport hunters who then want to bring back into the UK a body part of that animal as a trophy.
That process is going to be stopped in the UK (I hope) and it should have quite a big impact on trophy hunting in Africa because quite a lot of trophy hunters are rich British men. Another group well-versed in trophy hunting on the African continent is the Americans.
The legislation is called the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. The bill is still being debated but it is gradually approaching the moment when it will be enacted (in force in the UK).
In a recent debate, Sir Bill Wiggin MP, argued that this new law might be racist. These are his words: “We cannot expect people in rural Africa to have the same views on this subject as the voters in, say, Crawley [presented by Sir Bill Wiggin]. That is why telling Africans how to manage their wildlife is fundamentally wrong, post-colonial and possibly racist.”
He made a lengthy speech against this legislation. He praised official hunting programs in Africa and described them as well-regulated and legal. In the usual way that sport hunters argue their case, he said that sport hunting protects habitat and supports conservation. These are the well-worn arguments of people who enjoy killing animals in Africa.
They don’t stack up, but he fervently argues that “I have had contact with African community leaders and conservationists who do not support the UK Bill to ban UK imports of hunting trophies. They rightly argue that it is not for us in the West to decide how they should manage their wildlife, and that is why I cannot endorse this Bill.”
It is his point that the legislation might be racist which is interesting, and I think wide of the mark. The legislation will prevent British sport hunters importing trophies into the UK. It is a piece of legislation which applies to British people and their behaviour.
It tackles what many people feel is arrogant bloodthirsty behaviour. The spin-off from it is that it will help, hopefully, to protect wildlife in Africa. But the legislation itself is not a criticism of the way Africans manage their wildlife. It is the regulation of the abhorrent behaviour of a small number of British men. Therefore, I can’t see how it is racist.
Perhaps he’s arguing that it is racist because many people, including me, state that the money that trophy hunters pour into Africa to obtain permission to shoot wildlife there very often does not improve conservation despite what Sir Bill Wiggin MP says.
There have been many allegations of corruption among organisers and leaders in many countries of Africa and in South Africa. I’m not saying that corruption does not exist in the UK. It does. It is everywhere really including amongst the political classes. There is a very good example in The Times today, December 2, 2022. The president of South Africa, Ramaphosa, is considering stepping down after a panel of legal experts found that he had committed serious violations of South Africa’s constitution, his oath of office and anticorruption laws in the way he handled a large sum of cash stolen from his farm. His predecessor, former president Zuma was also heavily embroiled in corruption allegations. It appears to be endemic in the upper political classes in South Africa resulting in catastrophic mismanagement of this country.
But arguably and allegedly corruption is a major issue in the sport hunting businesses of Africa. Allegedly local authorities grant licences with a backhander. That is the argument. But Sir Bill Wiggin MP says that licences are granted legally and with conservation in mind. Fair enough.
But I think that he is incorrect in suggesting that this legislation is racist.
Below are some more articles on animal laws.