News

Tuesday 4th December 2018

Lion Trophies coming into U.K. have DOUBLED since Cecil’s death

Sir Ranulph Fiennes blames government’s broken promise to ban lion trophy imports

The number of lion trophies brought back to the U.K. by hunters has DOUBLED since the killing of Cecil, an investigation has found.

The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said many of the animals were killed at controversial South African “lion factory farms” that breed them in enclosures for “cut-price trophies”.

A report by the group says around 50 lions could have been saved if government promises in 2015 to ban lion trophy imports had been acted upon.

It added that lion numbers were now falling sharply, and that trophy hunting could be driving populations to extinction.

Eduardo Gonçalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said:

“Dozens of ‘Cecils’ could have been saved if the government had acted when it said it would. People will be incredulous to learn that the number of lion trophies coming into the country has actually gone up since he was killed.

“The lion ‘factory farms’ where many British trophy hunters go are so controversial that even hunting organisations condemn them”.

Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes – a supporter of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting – added:

“Lions are being killed in large numbers by a so-called ‘sport’ that has absolutely nothing sporting about it whatsoever. Lions now face the spectre of being wiped off the face of the Earth simply because some people enjoy killing living creatures, while governments like ours are too weak to stand up to their lobbyists.

“Lion factory farming and canned trophy hunting is the most shameful variety of an utterly despicable industry that is making millions from killing endangered animals”.

Around 80% of the more than 100 lion trophies brought back to the U.K. over the past decade originated from South Africa, where there are now an estimated 200 “lion factory farms” holding over 8,000 lions – three times South Africa’s wild lion population.

Cubs are controversially taken from their mothers shortly after birth in order to force lionesses to breed again. The cubs are used in lucrative “petting” and “lion walking” experiences for tourists before being moved into enclosures to be shot by hunters.

The cost of hunting a “factory-farmed lion” ranges from $5,000 – $25,000, compared to $60,000 – $120,000 for a wild lion.

Over half of the lion trophies coming into the U.K. over the past decade have arrived since 2015 – the year Cecil was infamously killed by American dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe. The U.K. government promised to consider banning lion trophy imports that year following the uproar that ensued.

However no action was taken, and 59 trophies have been brought in since then – more than double the number imported in the 3 year period immediately before Cecil’s death, which saw 27 lion trophies arrive.

Lions have become increasingly popular with British hunters in recent years. In 2007, just 4 lion trophies were brought home by hunters. Last year, that figure jumped to 15.

Around half the trophies imported into Britain over the past decade were of mounted heads. Others included whole lion bodies, skulls, skins, feet and rugs.

Numbers of lions in the wild have fallen dramatically from 450,000 in the 1950s to around 20,000 today. They have disappeared from 90% of their range and gone extinct in 26 countries.

Researchers say unsustainable levels of trophy hunting are affecting wild populations. Approximately 10,000 lions have been killed by trophy hunters over the past decade – equivalent to half today’s total remaining population.

Current annual hunting quotas are equivalent to one-third of all remaining adult males.

Lion trophies are becoming increasingly popular with hunters worldwide. In 2006, a total of 1428 lion trophies were exported from African countries. In 2016, the figure was 1623 – up 14%.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who grew up in Africa, said:

“People will be incensed to find out that it is perfectly legal for a rich hunter to go to Africa and kill virtually any animal he wants, regardless of how endangered it is, just so that he can adorn his walls with a gruesome memento of his killing spree.

“The laws and institutions that are supposed to protect endangered wildlife allow people to get away with this. They need to be thrown out of the window.

“This has absolutely nothing to do with our past as hunter-gatherers. Humans never traditionally went out killing lions for food, much less for fun.

“There’s nothing noble about killing an innocent animal from a great distance with a long-range rifle. The people who hunt animals for trophies should be given prison sentences, not permits”.

Eduardo Gonçalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting added:

“The government says it doesn’t permit the import of hunting trophies unless there has been no detrimental impact on endangered species and the trophy has been obtained from a ‘sustainable’ hunting operation. I challenge the government to publish the evidence it holds proving this to be the case for each of the lions killed by British hunters this year.

“Michael Gove told Parliament this week that he finds the idea of trophy hunting a difficult one to contemplate and that it ‘troubles’ him. Given the stark decline of lion populations, and the mounting evidence of the cruelty involved in lion factory-farming, he should act on his conscience.  He should put a stop to trophies coming into the country, and help prevent lions being killed by British hunters for so-called ‘sport’.”

ENDS

Sunday 25/11/2018

Revealed: British hunters kill endangered wildlife & bring home elephant ivory

Jeremy Corbyn, Zac Goldsmith, Sir Ed Davey, Caroline Lucas & MPs from the SNP, Plaid Cymru & DUP are supporting the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting’s call for an urgent ban on importing hunting trophies.

New figures released today show that U.K. trophy hunters brought home 2 tonnes of elephant tusks from Africa over the past decade.

They also show that nearly 400 “trophies” from the world’s most endangered animals have been brought into Britain by hunters in recent years.

A motion calling for an urgent ban on trophy imports has now won the support of Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Green Party, and Democratic Unionist Party MPs.

The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said UN figures showed that the most popular trophies for U.K. hunters included elephants, lions, leopards and rhinoceroses – all of which are included in Appendix I of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species. Appendix I animals are considered to be at greatest risk of extinction.

Other Appendix I animals killed by British trophy hunters include cheetahs, Nile crocodiles, zebras and caracals.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the loophole in CITES which currently allows trophy hunters to kill the world’s most endangered animals:

“I’m totally opposed to trophy hunting and to the importing of animals that have been killed for trophy hunting. CITES needs to include trophy hunting because we have to protect animals that are facing extinction.“

Conservationist and broadcaster Bill Oddie, who is supporting the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said trophy hunting was putting increasing pressure on vulnerable wildlife:

“When you’ve got a scattered, dwindling population, the loss of a handful of animals doesn’t just cause a ripple effect – it can be like a tsunami wave.

“Trophy hunting has always been senseless cruelty. Letting people kill them because they think it’s entertaining is just insane, especially when you’re talking about wildlife with such a vulnerable status”.

Zac Goldsmith is one of a number of leading Conservatives calling for a ban, and has now tabled a motion in Parliament which has won cross-party support. He said: “I find it amazing that anyone would take any kind of pleasure from shooting one of these magnificent creatures – elephants, lions, even rhinos. It makes no sense to me at all at any level.“

Former Lib Dem minister Sir Ed Davey MP called for new laws to be introduced, and said claims by trophy hunters that the ‘sport’ helped fund wildlife conservation and poverty eradication programmes were deliberately misleading:

“Trophy hunting should be banned across the world, and that ban should be enforced very strongly. It’s completely wrong that we’re allowing people to kill animals, particularly endangered species. The argument that it’s good for local communities is completely bogus. The money goes to the rich people, and we could actually help communities far better by promoting nature tourism.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the government had failed to follow through on a 2015 promise to ban lion trophy imports. She pointed to the examples of Australia, France and the Netherlands where trophy imports have been banned:

“Our government is supposed to be doing something about this. They pledged to make a start by banning the imports of lion trophies. But even on this they haven’t implemented it. Every year there’s an average of 242 animal trophies coming back into the U.K. We’re calling on the government to step up to follow the lead from other countries who have banned all trophy hunting imports.”

Other high-profile politicians who have declared their support for of a ban include Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, Shadow Defra spokesperson Sue Hayman, Shadow House of Lords leader Baroness Angela Smith, Shadow International Development Minister Kate Osamor, Shadow Attorney General Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, and Hilary Benn.

Prominent Conservative supporters include Oliver Letwin, Sir Roger Gale, Sir David Amess, Bob Blackman, Dame Eleanor Laing, and Peter Bottomley.

Eduardo Gonçalves from the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said the public would be shocked to learn both that British trophy hunters were deliberately killing endangered animals and bringing in elephant tusks, and that the law allowed them to do it:

“Over the last decade, UK hunters have brought home over 2500 trophies, of which nearly 400 were from some of the most endangered species on the planet.

“U.K. hunters have killed literally hundreds of elephants, hippos, leopards, zebras and lions – and then brought home their trophies and body parts for show.

“As well as tusks and mounted trophies, U.K. hunters bring home ‘souvenirs’ from their elephant-hunting expeditions that include trunks, feet, ears and tails.”

He accused the trophy hunting industry of deliberately encouraging the large-scale killing of rare wildlife:

“The Safari Club International ‘Global Hunting Award’ challenges hunters to kill a minimum of 12 species in Africa. Their ‘Cats of the World’ prize is handed to those who kill a lion, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, cougar and several other big cats. Its other awards include the infamous ‘Africa 29’ which is given to hunters who kill no fewer than 29 different wildlife species.

“This is grotesque, uncontrolled slaughter on a massive scale, and it’s pushing threatened species to the brink of extinction”.

He added that the loopholes in wildlife protection laws were being exploited by poachers posing as trophy hunters:

“Many people think the hunting of endangered wildlife is banned. In fact trophy hunters are exempted from CITES. It’s an extraordinary loophole which poachers are taking advantage of. Around 300 rhino horns are known to have been exported by phoney trophy hunters between 2009-2014 alone.

“The government wants to be seen as a global leader on wildlife and animal welfare. If it’s serious about this, it should commit to an immediate ban on imports. This is an area where Michael Gove will find there is strong public support for decisive action.”

For the SNP, Tommy Sheppard MP said: “It’s disgraceful in the modern age that we allow people to indulge in the slaughter of wild animals purely for entertainment.”

Ben Lake MP (Plaid Cymru) added: “I find it abhorrent that anyone would consider killing animals for sport and then to mount them above their mantelpieces as some sort of trophy. I want to see it completely banned. The U.K. as a leading nation can make an important contribution to bringing a global ban.”

ENDS

 

Monday 29 October

Celebrities & campaigners demand halt to new Elephant Hunting Plan

Conservationists, stars and MPs are demanding a halt to plans to allow trophy hunters to legally kill what they say is the world’s most important elephant population.

Their call marks the launch of a new global campaign to make trophy hunting illegal.

Campaigners say that plans to hunt elephants in Botswana could push the species further towards extinction. The country has the world’s largest population of African elephants – twice as many as any other nation – thanks to a hunting ban.

However the new President, who came into power in April 2018, has said he wants to lift the ban.

An open letter from celebrities and conservationists to be delivered to the Botswana High Commissioner in London condemns the proposals. It has been signed by Bill Bailey, Nicky Campbell, Peter Egan, Ranulph Fiennes, Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley, Virginia McKenna, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham, Sara Pascoe and Carol Royle. It states:

“The population of elephants has plummeted in recent years, with trophy hunting and ivory poaching largely to blame. Today, one third of all African elephants in the wild are found in Botswana.

“With its population dwindling and increasingly scattered, the impact of trophy hunting could be disastrous and possibly contribute to the extinction of the species. This would be a major global conservation disaster – potentially the worst in living memory – and have tremendously damaging consequences for efforts to conserve endangered fauna and flora everywhere.”

Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting and author of a 250,000-strong Care2 petition protesting the plans to bring back elephant trophy hunting in Botswana, said an international treaty was needed to ban the bloodsport in order to protect elephants and other vulnerable wildlife:

“Trophy hunting is cruel and inhumane. Large animals such as elephants suffer lingering and painful deaths after being shot. Trophy hunting is putting pressure on already-threatened species such as elephants, lions and rhinos, and may contribute to us losing them altogether. Trophy hunting needs to be banned now, before it’s too late.”

In a statement, Joanna Lumley said: “I have always considered trophy hunting the lowest of the low. Killing animals for fun is just disgusting. We are urging President Masisi to reject the proposal to lift the ban on trophy hunting for the sake of the elephants in his beautiful country and for the reputation of humans everywhere.”

Ricky Gervais also hit out strongly against the moves: “If trophy hunting elephants in Botswana is made legal again, we might as well say goodbye to them now. It will be the end for African elephants, and all because some rich psychopath enjoys murdering a magnificent animal”.

Damian Aspinall added: “As a conservationist and as someone directly involved in working to save persecuted species, I can say from first-hand experience that hunting for ‘sport’ is putting tremendous pressure on our wildlife. Trophy hunting is simply inexplicable and inexcusable, and those who practice it need to take a long, hard look at themselves and what they’re doing. Elephants have been with us for millions of years. Are we really going to allow them to disappear within the blink of an eye just because a handful of people take pleasure from killing them?”

Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is another leading name to have thrown his weight behind the campaign: “Our children will despise us if we let elephants die out. We should hang our heads in shame at what’s going on. People who kill elephants for fun need to be stopped. We need a global ban and tough jail terms for trophy hunting and poaching.”

Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy at the Born Free Foundation, likened trophy hunting to a ‘colonial-era obsession’: “Born Free is opposed to the killing of any animal for sport or pleasure. Trophy hunting is a relic of a colonial-era obsession with killing iconic and often rare wild animals for sport, and has no place in progressive conservation programmes.”

Politicians from across the political spectrum have condemned Botswana’s plans and backed a ban on trophy hunting. Sir Ed Davey MP (Lib Dem) said: “The case for legal hunting of elephants ranges from weak to immoral. Legal hunting can often act as a cover for illegal hunting, endangering the species – and the idea that tourist money trickles down to support local people who then prevent poaching simply isn’t proven. We need the ban – and we need to resource its enforcement, urgently.”

Chris Williamson MP (Labour) added: “The appalling, indiscriminate killing of elephants for their tusks is barbaric. There has been a spate of killings in Botswana, a previous safe haven for these beautiful creatures. That’s why I am calling on the Botswana Government to take action to address the slaughter of these animals without delay”.

ENDS

Notes:

  1. Full text of open letter from celebrities/conservationists: https://bantrophyhunting.net/open-letter/

  2. Link to 250,000-strong petition:  http://care2.com/botswanaelephants

 

Surge in lion body parts including heads, skulls, skins and feet shipped to UK by trophy hunters – despite government pledge to ban the controversial imports

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6450593/Surge-lion-body-parts-including-heads-skulls-skins-feet-shipped-UK-trophy-hunters.html

UK trophy hunters have killed HUNDREDS of elephants and shipped more than 700 tusks back to this country by exploiting legal loophole – Mail on Sunday

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6425595/UK-trophy-hunters-killed-HUNDREDS-elephants-shipped-700-tusks-back.html

The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting says an “extraordinary loophole” is allowing elephant horns into the UK

https://news.sky.com/story/400-dismembered-endangered-animal-body-parts-brought-to-uk-animal-rights-groups-11563319

Jeremy Corbyn and Zac Goldsmith back campaign’s calls for urgent ban on importing hunting trophies – inews

https://inews.co.uk/news/mps-back-campaigns-calls-for-urgent-ban-on-importing-hunting-trophies/

Big-game hunters have brought thousands of gruesome ‘trophies’ including elephant tusks and body parts to UK by exploiting legal loophole – Evening Standard

“This is grotesque, uncontrolled slaughter on a massive scale and it’s pushing threatened species to the brink of extinction”

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/biggame-hunters-exploiting-legal-loophole-have-brought-thousands-of-trophies-including-two-tonnes-of-a3999606.html

Who would want to kill a lion? Inside the minds of trophy hunters – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/04/trophy-hunters-who-would-kill-lion-elephant-big-game-hunting

‘BAN trophy hunting’ Fury as elephant and lion trophies are shipped into UK – Daily Express

https://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/1047425/ban-trophy-hunting-big-game-hunting-uk-elephants-lions