UK Consultation on Hunting Trophies

Banner image: Outside UK Houses of Parliament, 9 December 2021 – Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting and supportive Members of Parliament

This week, the United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) finally released two important pieces of information:

  • The proposed contents of the bill regarding the importation of hunting trophies:
    • Based on the results [of the consultation], we will be banning the import of hunting trophies from:
      • species on Annex A and B of the UK Wildlife Trade Regulations;
      • additional endangered and threatened species not covered by these regulations but subject to hunting and of particular conservation concern” – additional endangered and threatened species not covered by these regulations but subject to hunting and of particular conservation concern” – [Update] – DEFRA’s “Policy response” goes on to state for inclusion “…namely those [species] assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild” – thus the proposed hunting trophy import restrictions would encompass for example, the African lion (Panthera leo) despite the anomaly* of the species only being listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List, with the added reassurance that “For all species in scope, the import of hunting trophies from both wild and captive-bred animals will be banned” – “Policy response,” DEFRA, 10 December 2021
    • The import ban would include not just endangered and threatened species but also more than 1,000 others, such as zebra and reindeer” –  BBC News, 10 December 2021

The proposed hunting trophy import restrictions are currently due to be incorporated into the ‘Animals Abroad Bill,’ which has yet to receive any formal parliamentary timetabling, with a vague promise of perhaps next spring/summer.

However, the second reading of the Rt. Hon. John Spellar MP’s Private Members’ Bill, “Hunting Trophy Import (Prohibition) Bill” is due on 10 December 2021 [postponed until 14 January 2022], with the supported suggestion that the DEFRA proposed hunting trophy import restrictions could be incorporated into the Rt. Hon. John Spellar MP’s Private Members’ Bill (PDF version “Hunting Trophy Import (Prohibition) Bill – As introduced“) and thus gain an expedited passage through the parliamentary process.

As well as the consultation outcome, where “84% supported ‘Option Three: A ban on all hunting trophies entering or leaving the UK’”  (DEFRA, 10 December 2021), there is overwhelming public support for ending hunting trophy imports, with a 2021 poll revealing that 89 per cent of the sample (1,020 respondents) supported banning hunters from bringing back trophies of hunted animals into the UK.

Therefore, the pressure is on the government to implement the suggested legislation to comprehensively restrict hunting trophy imports into the UK – with a mechanism readily available, the amendment and adoption of  “Hunting Trophy Import (Prohibition) Bill” – get the ban done!

Hunting trophy ‘baggage’ arriving at a UK airport  – Image courtesy of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting

* Despite the African lion’s steep population decline, the species is still only listed as CITES Appendix II, despite other species, which have larger species populations, such the African elephant, or similar species populations, such as the White rhinoceros, both being listed at Appendix I (with exemptions).

Panthera leo is only listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List, with the “Threats” listed including:

…….trophy hunting has a net positive impact in a some areas, but may have at times contributed to population declines in Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe (Packer et al. 2009, 2011, 2013), Cameroon (Croes et al. 2011) and Zambia (Rosenblatt et al. 2014).”  

Is the reluctance to uplist the African lion to Appendix I (or IUCN Red List as “Endangered” or above) because the African lion is such a popular income generator as a hunting trophy?

Further Reading

Importing of hunting trophies banned to protect world’s threatened species,” UK Government Press Release, 10 December 2021 

Summary of responses and government response,” Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 10 December 2021

British big game hunters to be banned from bringing trophies home,” The Guardian, 10 December 2021

Fears new ban on trophy-hunt imports could be delayed for years,” The Independent, 10 December 2021

Government unveils ban on trophy hunting imports as campaigners denounce delays,” The Independent, 10 December 2021 

Trophy hunters face five years in jail for importing threatened species to the UK,” Daily Telegraph, 10 December 2021

Hunting trophy ban to cover more animals,” The Times, 10 December 2021

Ban on trophy hunting imports from endangered animals to be introduced in UK,” Sky News, 10 December 2021

Trophy hunting imports to be banned as campaigners urge quick action,” ITV News, 10 December 2021

UK plan to ban animal trophies too slow – conservation groups,” BBC News, 10 December 2021

Hunters will be barred from bringing home their sick trophies in one of world’s toughest bans to protect thousands of threatened species,” Daily Mail, 10 December 2021

Hunters face total ban on bringing trophy kills back to UK,” The Independent, 6 December 2021 

UK ministers accused of ‘dithering’ as trophy hunting law delayed again,” The Guardian, 15 November 2021

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