SCI has taken the lead to fight the UK government’s plans to impose a ban on trophy importation. SCI quickly responded upon hearing of an ill-advised move by UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) official Zac Goldsmith, who called for an urgent consultation to stop the importation of many, if not all hunting trophies into the UK.
So far, the UK government’s vague pronouncements on their plans have made it impossible to determine the extent of the ban, if and when it is imposed.
Upon hearing of the announcement, Safari Club International immediately sent a letter to Minister Goldsmith and others outlining SCI’s great concern over the pending action. SCI advised the UK’s lead environmental officials to contact the environmental ministries of the countries that manage the wildlife that will be affected by a potential ban, including Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The letter stressed that it is imperative that the UK government consult with these range country wildlife experts so that the UK can better understand the role that hunting plays in wildlife conservation. In addition, the range countries must have the opportunity to explain the harmful impact a UK importation ban will have on the success of range country conservation efforts.
SCI’s letter included reference to a recent letter submitted to SCIENCE Magazine by 133 wildlife experts. In that letter, the authors laced scientific evidence over subjective sensitivities to recognize the importance of hunting in wildlife conservation. The authors also advised governments not to take actions that would undermine existing well-managed hunting programs.
Although some of the wildlife experts admitted their personal discomfort with hunting, they noted that a “conservation policy that is not based on science threatens habitat and biodiversity and risks disempowering and impoverishing rural communities.”
The UK appears to be willing to ignore science and give emotion the key role in wildlife conservation decisions. An interesting aspect to the UK government’s move is the admission of the UK daily newspaper, The Mirror, that this action is a “victory for the Daily Mirror’s campaign against the bloodsport [sic], started after US dentist Walter Palmer shot Cecil the lion in 2015.”
So much for reporting news rather than making it.
SCI has urged its UK members to contact their Members of Parliament to fight this potential ban. Stay tuned for updates on this issue as they become available.