TOMORROW, the UK Parliament is considering a trophy ban bill from John Spellar, MP. In a tweet Monday, he stated, “my Bill to #BanTrophyHunting imports coming up in Commons THIS FRIDAY, Govt have chance to actually do something popular and let it move forward.”
This popularity is in the United Kingdom – a country overrun with anti-hunters who have little understanding of the wildlife, conservation, or communities in southern Africa. Anti-hunting efforts like this bill are based purely on emotions and with no real concern for realities on the ground. In fact, the overwhelming scientific evidencepoints to hunting as one of the best conservation tools, raising huge revenues, protecting wild and remote areas, and bringing benefits to communities, the custodians of wildlife and ecosystems.
The largest populations of elephant, rhino, giraffe, lion, leopard and many other species live in the areas where they are hunted. Managed hunting has led to these successes, with revenues going directly back to conservation and community development. This provides incentives to protect wildlife, rather than converting land to other uses. Wildlife and habitat require active management, and without management, species like elephants pose risks to the balance of nature. One must look no further than Botswana or Zimbabwe to see the destruction of landscapes by overpopulated elephants due to international pushback on hunting.
The overwhelming majority in southern Africa support hunting for its many benefits and as a sustainable conservation, tourism, and development model. Leaders from southern Africa have consistently opposed a UK trophy ban, including with letters from the Community Leaders Network and SADC Ambassadors and visits to the UK, just to name a few. It is certainly not lost on these leaders that a member of the UK Parliament trying to control their wildlife and their future is simply a modern attempt at colonialism.
Malidadi Langa, from Malawi, replied to Spellar’s tweet saying, “This bill, deaf to scientific evidence, & opinions of #localcommunities, smacks of self-righteous arrogance detrimental to conservation. If #localcommunities can’t #benefit from #wildlife, we can also use #political process to convert #wildlifehabitats to other land use options”
This isn’t about conservation; anti-hunters would rather see ecosystems destroyed and species become extinct than allow hunting. “Popularity”, however, is no match for scientific truth. We must stand up to this and amplify the voice of Africans against bills that threaten their livelihoods and the very animals trophy bans claim to protect.