Trophy hunters use disinformation campaign to undermine UK’s proposed animal trophy import ban

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Abigail Day

NEWS AND COMMENT: the infamous Safari Club International (SCI) has paid thousands of pounds to a specialist contractor, the Inclusive Conservation Group, to spread disinformation and fake news through dozens of fake social media profiles to promote SCI’s campaign to undermine the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) proposed ban on the import of body parts of endangered wild animals as trophies from Africa.

Abigail Day

Abigail Day loves to kill animals and promotes trophy hunting. Photo: CEDR.

Fake colonialism claims

They are spreading the idea that it is an act of colonialism to ban the importation of iconic wild animal body parts as sport hunting trophies from Africa because in effect it is telling Africans how to run their countries on the African continent. In other words it harks back to the era of colonialism. Colonialism is in the news anyway and so is the Black Lives Matter movement and therefore it is quite clever to employ dark arts built around the concept of colonialism to try and defend their bloodlust sport of shooting iconic and often endangered species in Africa. But their fake propaganda has been exposed by The Times newspaper who have based their article today on a book published by Eduardo Gonçalves. His book is called, Trophy Leaks: Top Hunters and Industry Secrets Revealed.

In the book he also reveals the identities of at least two British trophy hunters, one of whom is Abigail Day, a Cambridge-educated lawyer and the other is a Thames Water employee whose name is Asif Wattoo.

Bloodlust

Wattoo is from Berkshire and he has posed for dozens of photographs with dead animals. He described on social media a bullet emerging out of the neck of an Impala that he had shot in ecstatic terms, “If you’ve hunted in Africa you know exactly how thrilling it is”. He’s been contacted for comment by news media but Thames Water told them that they don’t comment on employees’ outside activities. Ms Day founded the London chapter of SCI. She is a top-flight sport and trophy hunter and has 200 prizes for killing game after hunting in thirty-six countries and she too declined to comment when asked.

AI fake posts

The Inclusive Conservation Group use artificial intelligence to create fake social media accounts to spread fake news in support of trophy hunting. One page on Facebook which has now been banned was called Let Africa Live. It had 38,000 followers. It targeted Britain during the public consultation phase by Defra between November 2019 February 2020 about the plan to ban trophy hunting imports. At that time the anti-colonialist and imperialist messages were posted on social media and they were said to come from Africans. What they’re doing is they are creating fake posts pretending that African people living in Africa are against a ban on the importation of trophies from sport hunting in Africa. For example, one post was entitled: “The UK is trying to colonise local Africans by controlling how they use their land”.

Facebook investigation

This post stated that foreign influence by animal rights extremists is doing more harm to wildlife and people in Africa. These sorts of messages were liked and shared by fake social media accounts. Let Africa Live was also banned from Twitter. It is suggested that it was banned in part because of fears about fake news being promulgated during the US presidential election. Facebook investigated and found that the Inclusive Conservation Group was linked to fake accounts which focused on Botswana and Kenya in praising Pres Trump and sport hunting. The fake Twitter account celebrated South African’s policy in allowing trophy hunts.

Blood Origins

Another campaign to support trophy hunting has been launched by an organisation called Blood Origins. It is run by an American hunter who has published videos in which stakeholders (in the revenue from sport hunting) who are conservationists from Zimbabwe, Botswana and Tanzania to provide their views about Britain’s proposals to ban trophy imports. The questions are posed in a way which indicates that the British policy is colonialist and imperialist in nature. This is more propaganda in perhaps a desperate attempt by trophy hunters to try and justify their ghastly sport.