The UK should take a stand and ban the import of hunting trophies – that was the call from Richmond Park and North Kingston MP Zac Goldsmith as he led a parliamentary debate on trophy hunting.
Zac, whose motion to ban hunting imports has secured the support of 166 MPs from all the political parties in Parliament, called the debate to present his case for the Government to act to reduce demand for the hunting of endangered species like lions, elephants and rhinos.
He cited the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which warned in the starkest possible terms of the catastrophe facing biodiversity across the world, with a million species now threatened with extinction. “We are exhausting the planet, and we need radical and immediate action to reverse that,” he said, urging the Government to ban the import of hunting trophies and offer something better for conservation.
Whilst acknowledging that there are pro-conservation arguments in favour of trophy hunting, such as using it to preserve animal habitats and raising money for indigenous communities, Zac argued that the existence of a few isolated examples of good practice is not a sufficient reason for the UK to support an activity that involves shooting beautiful, endangered creatures for money, especially given that there is strong evidence that the practice can be harmful for animal populations and local communities. It is, he said, only by placing a real value on animals as living beings that we will save them.
The Government’s position is currently to allow trophy imports, but there have already been reports since Zac’s debate that Environment Secretary Michael Gove is looking at banning the import of trophy from lions killed in so-called canned hunts – that is, where animals are bred to be shot.
A transcript of Zac’s speech can be found here