Update to the UK Trophy Ban Bill 

Last week, the House of Lords in the UK met to debate the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. This bill passed the House of Commons earlier this year but the Lords have proposed 62 amendments. Last week’s debate only covered 5 of these amendments, which may mean the clock will run out before the end of the parliamentary session and the bill will not be adopted. Another debate may take place in the coming days to cover the remaining amendments – stay tuned for more updates. 

As currently written, the ridiculously overbroad bill would prohibit import of nearly 7,000 species, a vast majority of which are not hunted.  Several of the amendments attempt to create a “smart” ban, such as providing a conservation exemption to certain imports. While this might be the best, but not ideal, outcome, it also highlights the huge deficiencies in the bill. This bill is based on demonstrably false information and emotional opinion, rather than science, proven conservation, and the testimony and opposition of Africans, including range state governments and community leaders, who live with and manage this wildlife. International hunting provides incentives and resources to manage wildlife and habitat – both costly and dangerous undertakings for African governments and communities. The graphic above further highlights just a few of the deficiencies in an all-encompassing ban that disregards some of the most successful stories of conservation in the world. 

If the amendments are not agreed upon in time, the bill will likely be resubmitted in a future parliamentary session. While animal rights groups and several MPs have taken to the streets to protest the lack of progress on the bill, more reasoned discourse has entered the mainstream. In his article, “the UK’s ban on trophy hunting will harm wildlife. This is why,” Chris Haslam writes, “The problem is that conservationists, and even the government’s own Joint Nature Conservation Committee, are opposed to the import ban, variously describing it as naïve, emotive, populist, cynical, irrelevant and detrimental to the wildlife it aims to protect. Last month 163 leading conservationists wrote to Rishi Sunak urging caution on the topic.” Although personally against hunting in Africa, Haslam highlights that there is no replacement for the funds, jobs, anti-poaching, and more for conservation that hunters and operators provide.  

While the bill may die this year, the bigger problem remains: anti-hunting sentiment, regardless of the facts, has the power to disrupt entire systems of conservation to the detriment of wildlife and the people living alongside it. Unfortunately, these attacks and attempts to ban hunting imports are constant and come from every corner of the globe. Just as constantly, SCI will continue to provide proven evidence and fight for sustainable use conservation around the world.