Great News for Wildlife as Great Britain Set to BAN Import of Hunting Trophies
Great News for Wildlife as Great Britain Set to BAN Import of Hunting Trophies. Photo: iStockPhoto

The import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species – including lions, rhinos and elephants from South Africa and other countries on the continent – is set to be banned in Great Britain.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, today announced plans for a a new bill for a UK hunting trophy import ban that will be ‘one of toughest in the world’.

Humane Society International (HSi)/Africa said it commends the UK government on their commitment to help protect the world’s rapidly declining wildlife and encourage a speedy implementation of the legislation to “halt this incredibly cruel trade as soon as possible”.

Dr Audrey Delsink, wildlife director of HSi Africa said:

“A UK’s hunting trophy import ban would send a clear message that first-world countries are turning their backs on this sick trade. Killing wild animals simply to adorn homes as souvenirs is simply unacceptable. Studies show that trophy hunting does not aid conservation or uplift communities as hunters have claimed – it is nothing but a sad PR spin to cover an indefensible act. We welcome this commitment by the UK government and applaud them for ending their involvement in the destruction of some of our most endangered and threatened species. We urge the UK government to introduce and implement the bill soonest”.

South Africa reported exporting a total of 21,018 trophies between 2014 and 2018, which works out to an average 4,204 trophies per year.

The United Kingdom is one of the top importing countries of trophies from South Africa, accounting for a total of 305 imported trophies, covered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during this period.

The UK Government said in a press release on its website today that the ban is aimed to protect the world’s threatened species.

The UK’s Environmental Department – announced:

  • Import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species to be banned – including lions, rhinos, elephants, and polar bears
  • Ban on imports of hunting trophies will be one of toughest in the world and protect nearly 7,000 species
  • Key manifesto commitment as part of a wider UK drive on international conservation

The Environment Secretary said in the last 50 years, there has been a 60% decline in wildlife globally.

The Ban will also cover over 1,000 additional species which are considered near-threatened or worse, such as African buffalo, zebra and reindeer – going further than the Government’s initial manifesto commitment to prohibit the import of hunting trophies from endangered species.

“The Government consulted on a ban in 2019 and we received over 44,000 responses which showed clear public and conservation group support for tighter restrictions with 86% supporting further action,” said the press release.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

More animal species are now threatened with extinction than ever before in human history and we are appalled at the thought of hunters bringing back trophies and placing more pressure on some of our most iconic and endangered animals.

This would be one of the toughest bans in the world, and goes beyond our manifesto commitment, meaning we will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation.

Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said:

The government’s bill looks set to be the strongest ban in the world. This is the leadership that we have been calling for to save endangered species and help bring this terrible trade to an end.

Wildlife needs this ban. Endangered animals are cruelly and needlessly killed every day, and many of them are brought back to Britain as trophies.

I urge the government to bring the bill to Parliament as soon as possible, and will be asking MPs and Peers to get behind it.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International UK said:

We welcome the Government’s commitment today to a UK hunting trophy import ban that will protect thousands of species including lions, elephants and giraffe, ruthlessly targeted by trophy hunters. We also welcome that it has ruled out loopholes that would have allowed hunters to carry on shipping their sick souvenirs.

We now urge ministers to expedite the introduction of this legislation, which will make going on holiday to kill endangered animals and bring home their body parts as legally indefensible as it is socially unacceptable.

Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones said:

It cannot be right for British hunters to be able to pay to kill endangered wild animals overseas and ship the trophies home. While the UK is by no means the biggest destination for international hunting trophies, nevertheless UK-based hunters frequently travel overseas to kill animals for fun, including species that are threatened with extinction. The proposed ban will send a clear signal that the UK does not condone the brutal killing of threatened wild animals for this so-called ‘sport’ by UK citizens.

It is two years since the British public overwhelmingly called for an end to hunting trophy imports, so we urge the Government to introduce and implement this legislation as quickly as possible.

Biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate. The population of Africana savanna elephants has decreased by more than half in the last 50 years whilst the number of African lions has declined to just 20,000 in the wild in the last 20 years.

Trophy hunting can add to the range of threats that species face and have negative knock-on effects for animal populations or entire ecosystems. Banning trophy imports from these endangered and threatened animals – with no exemptions – will help reduce the threats many of these species are already facing, said the press release.

The UK Government said it is at the forefront of international efforts to protect endangered animals and plants and following a recent £7.2m boost, is investing £46m between 2014 and 2021 through its IWTCF to directly combat the illegal wildlife trade to benefit nature, people, the economy and protect global security.

The UK’s Ivory Act will also come into force next year and will further support conservation measures by introducing a near total ban on the import export and dealing of items containing elephant ivory in the UK, regardless of their age.