The UK parliament passed a law to ban the import of hunting trophies into the country, despite criticism from African wildlife conservation groups who say the law will have a counterproductive effect.
The legislation, which aims to protect endangered animals and has the backing of celebrities like football presenter Gary Lineker and model Kate Moss, was voted through by British lawmakers on Friday. Now that the legislation has passed the lower house, it must be considered by the upper house of parliament before it can become law.
Trophy hunting, where hunters pay thousands of dollars for the right to kill animals like tigers, elephants and lions, has long been controversial.
Critics argue that shooting elephants, lions, rhinos and other wild animals for fun is cruel and pushes endangered species closer to extinction. Hunters often like to bring home parts of the animals as trophies, such as skulls, heads, skins, tusks or claws. By forbidding bringing those trophies into the UK, the British government want to discourage hunters from shooting these animals.
However, community conservation leaders from Angola, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia object the decision to ban the import of trophy hunting, arguing that rural communities benefit from trophy hunting income and it’s a part of conversation efforts.
“Trophy hunting is an important part of that economy (in Southern African countries). This view is shared by rural communities, environmental NGOs, and governments. There is thus a significant difference between the views on trophy hunting held by environmental NGOs in your country and those in Southern Africa,” Chris Brown, head of the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), said in a statement.
The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) covers 520 000km² of Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The region is home to around 250,000 animals and has national parks, forests, sanctuaries and also game parks for people to shoot and kill animals.
Britain first discussed the ban on hunting trophies the 13-year-old male lion Cecil was kllled by Walter Palmer, an American dentist, in Zimbabwe in 2015, causing international outrage.
Cecil was lured out of a protected area and shot with an arrow. The lion was wounded and suffered for almost 12 hours before Palmer found him and killed him with a compound bow.
The hunt was found to be legal because Palmer bought a hunting permit, but the public’s strong negative response made way for the UK ban.