According to a recent report by MPs, the US hunting lobby has spent £1 million trying to persuade the government to postpone the trophy import ban.
Three years ago, Boris Johnson pledged to outlaw the importation of these medals, but the legislation has yet to pass the legislature. Henry Smith, a Conservative lawmaker and advocate for animal welfare, has introduced a private member’s bill to stop the importation of hunting trophies due to the delay.
The latest report from the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on outlawing trophy hunting provides extensive information on the lobbying activities of foreign hunting organizations.
According to the study, the US-based hunting lobby organization Safari Club International (SCI) invested £1 million in a campaign to persuade MPs and the British public to oppose a ban on the importation of the body parts of endangered species.
The biggest trophy hunting organization worldwide is SCI. It rewards its members for murdering numerous critically endangered animals. It describes itself as “the premier advocate of the freedom to hunt” and was founded in the 1970s. It is one of the largest corporate funders to political campaigns in the US.
According to the APPG report, the SCI supported the Let Africa Live Facebook page, which made statements such “The UK is about to destroy local economies in Africa.” Investigation revealed that the page was funded by SCI from a fund known as the Hunter Legacy 100 Fund, despite the fact that the page implied it was made by local organizations in African nations. Facebook’s chief of security eventually removed the campaign’s page, noting that “the persons behind this network attempted to disguise their names and cooperation.”
The APPG’s chairman, Sir Roger Gale of the Conservative Party, claimed that aggressive lobbying had informed the government that this would be a “contentious” subject.
“The administration usually begs for more time when anything is contentious, but we need to move on with it,” he continued. The US gun lobby has been actively lobbying. The government has come under a lot of pressure from Safari Club International.
“I speak with the prime minister on my own calls. I believe that he is generally committed to passing this legislation, but it must be done without considering the lobbying.
There was a heated argument within the Conservative Party earlier this year when ministers claimed Johnson was on the verge of lifting the restriction following lobbying by the shooting and hunting community. The British Association of Shooting and Conservation applauded the news at the time and claimed that a ban would harm conservation. Supporters of trophy hunting claim that the money produced by the activity is essential for supporting local economies and funding conservation initiatives.
According to the APPG research, the numbers of lions, elephants, and rhinos have increased in Kenya, where trophy hunting is prohibited, and have also rebounded significantly in Zambia and Zimbabwe following temporary prohibitions on trophy hunting.
Jane Goodall, a leading expert on primates, said to the APPG: “Trophy hunters murder for fun. They kill animals for show and to prove their alleged bravery and fearlessness. The hunting lobby will make a lot of effort to maintain the status quo. All hunting trophies should be outlawed if we wish to keep our nation’s reputation as one that values animals. The clock is ticking. Many of the animals that trophy hunters kill are on the verge of extinction.
“We are committed to prohibiting the import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species,” a Defra official stated. The strength of this prohibition will be among the greatest in the world, setting the bar for the defense of threatened species. Additionally, we support the private member’s bill proposed by Henry Smith.
The erased Facebook page, according to a SCI representative, was created by a contractor, not by the club administration. “The truth is that in a misguided attempt, and without the knowledge of SCI, a sub-contracted vendor took unlawful activity by using fabricated social media profiles,” they claimed. Although it is disappointing that they unnecessarily used questionable tactics, the vendor’s content about hunting and conservation is verifiably genuine and is not rendered any less important by questionable distribution techniques.
This article by Helena Horton was first published by The Guardian on 29 June 2022. Lead Image: Lion, elephant and rhino populations have increased in Kenya, where trophy hunting is banned. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images.
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