Update to the UK Animal Rights Initiative

The New Year has brought new ideas to the United Kingdom’s Animals Abroad Bill, which seeks to protect wild and domestic animals by declaring them sentient beings. Of particular note is the radical trophy ban in the bill, which will prohibit the import of thousands of hunted species, particularly from Africa, to the country. This is in direct opposition to proven conservation strategies in Africa, the testimony of the scientific community, and the pleas of rural African communities. 

This initiative doesn’t stop at hunting trophy bans. The Government has proposed banning the import of foie gras, banning the advertisement of “low welfare animal practices abroad”, banning the import and export of shark fins, and banning all trade of animal fur – a proposal with impacts all the way up to the Queen, as the royal family uses fur trimmings in official robes. 

The most dangerous aspect of the bill remains the trophy import ban. Trophy hunting in southern Africa is proven to benefit wildlife and communities through habitat protection and management and irreplaceable revenues from international hunters. The bill will offer no conservation exemption, meaning that even if the hunt is proven to help the overall conservation of the hunted species, the hunter will still not be allowed to import the trophy. This is irrational and plays only to the interests of animal rights groups activists in the UK, most of whom will never encounter African wildlife. For more information on how international hunting helps both rural Africans and wildlife, visit SCI’s International Hunting – Focus on Africa Page.

As reported in the news, the threat out of the UK is very real, but how it becomes a reality has still not been worked out. DEFRA Minister Zac Goldsmith, who has been pushing for the trophy ban has admitted that the bill is not scheduled for review in the near future, and that there is no time frame for it. It seems this bill’s proposals have gotten so ridiculous it might be impossible to pass. 

This initiative is far from defeated, but SCI will continue to fight back against this ill-founded legislation alongside our European chapters and partners. SCI is working to ensure that this bill is defeated and to change the overall narrative around trophy hunting. Conservation should not be rooted in emotions, but in science, local management, and proven strategies. SCI will always fight for the rights of hunters around the world.