The General Election – and what it means for wildlife

Born Free is ready to ensure that wildlife protection and the welfare of animals are given a high priority through the election campaign.

A propped up sign reading 'polling station' in front of a sandstone building

The Prime Minister’s announcement that the UK general election will take place on 4th July took many of us by surprise. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t ready to ensure that wildlife protection and the welfare of animals are given a high priority through the election campaign and are firmly on the agenda of the new government that will take office in July. 

At Born Free we published our UK Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Manifesto early in 2023. This document sets out our priorities for the new government, whatever its political persuasion may be, for wildlife in the UK and for the UK government’s approach to wildlife protection overseas. We accompanied its launch last year with polling evidence showing that the overwhelming majority of the UK public strongly supports our priorities for greater protection for wildlife and higher animal welfare standards. 

Sadly, our current government has failed to deliver many of the promises it has made to improve the protection of wild animals, both free-living and captive. The timing of the general election also means that some key measures that are currently on the parliamentary agenda will likely be dropped or shelved until after the election. These include: 

  • The long-promised ban on hunting trophy imports which is the subject of a Private Members Bill that is part way through the parliamentary process; 
  • The extension of the Ivory Act to protect additional ivory-bearing species, including hippos, narwhals, sperm and killer whales, from trade in their ivory to, from and within the UK; and 
  • The implementing regulations required to give effect to the Animals (Low Welfare Activities Abroad) Act, that will specify the cruel activities involving animals overseas, the advertising and sale of which will be illegal here. 

These are all vitally important issues and we need to ensure they are prioritised by the new government after the election. 

While much of the discourse during the election campaign will doubtless focus on the big economic and social issues facing the UK, such as the cost of living, the NHS and social care, housing, and immigration, it’s vital that we don’t let wildlife protection and animal welfare fall off the political agenda.  

Animals don’t have votes, but we do. With our biodiversity in crisis across the globe, and with the UK being one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, we must make it clear to all our political candidates that wild animals matter. 

We’ll be in contact soon to let you know what you can do to help.