BORN FREE DISAPPOINTED BY UK GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO ACT ON TROPHY HUNTING IMPORTS

Born Free is disappointed by the news that the UK government has no immediate plans to ban hunting trophy imports.

Born Free is opposed to the killing of any animal for sport or pleasure, and strongly refutes claims by trophy hunting proponents that their activities support conservation or local communities.

Reacting to the news, Will Travers OBE, Born Free’s President and Co-Founder, said: “Wild animals are the natural treasures of the world. We should not permit, support or tolerate their wanton destruction for ‘fun’ and we should not try to justify their killing in order to tick the boxes on a trophy hunter’s pseudo-economics and distorted conservation agenda. Michael Gove needs to seize this leadership opportunity; determine that the UK shall play no part in trophy hunting; end the issuing of trophy hunting import permits; secure the financial support of the Treasury and the Department for International Development for the development of alternative livelihoods for the modest number of people who currently make a living from this misery; and fund the protection of existing and additional natural habitats – one of the key priorities identified in the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Report 2019, published recently by the United Nations. Such bold and principled action would have my support, the support of millions more – and would be on the right side of history.”

Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy, added: “We strongly refute the claims made by trophy hunting proponents. Far from targeting ‘problem’ or ‘redundant’ animals, trophy hunters typically set their sights on animals with impressive traits – the darkest manes, the biggest tusks, the longest horns – and by doing so they remove key individuals, disrupting and damaging the social and genetic integrity of populations and the wider ecosystems of which they are a vital part. Trophy hunting operations generate only a very small proportion of wildlife tourism income, with most of the profits benefitting a few outfitters, professional hunters and officials, and the industry is wracked by corruption. Little if any of the money hunters pay to make their kills ever filters down to local communities or conservation bodies. 

“Trophy hunting also causes immense animal suffering. Trophy hunters may not be expert shots, and hunting organisations offer awards for methods of killing a trophy animal which might include the use of bows and arrows, handguns, or ‘traditional’ weapons such as muzzle loaders. It is astonishing that, in the 21st century, trophy hunters are allowed to pay in order to kill animals without training or independent oversight, using methods that clearly do not prioritise the welfare of the target animal, a situation that would not be tolerated in other circumstances where animals are deliberately killed.

“Urgent action is clearly needed at a global level. Banning the importation of hunting trophies from threatened species is an action the UK government can and should take without delay, as part of a commitment to safeguard the conservation and welfare of the world’s diminishing wildlife.”

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