The UK government will ban the import of spoils from trophy hunting, but the bill has been criticised by campaign groups.
The UK government has announced plans to ban the import of trophies from hunting.
Around 7,000 animal species will be protected by the new bill. This includes lions, leopards, polar bears, rhinos and elephants.
The bill covers both wild animals and those bred specifically for hunting.
The new bill is set to be tough on trophy hunting, with violators getting up to five years in prison.
A long time coming
In 2015, the death of Cecil the lion, who was shot by a British trophy hunter in Zimbabwe, sparked outrage nationwide.
Four years later, in 2019, the ban on trophy imports was first proposed, but it would be deliberated for another two years.
According to the campaign group Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, as many as 300 trophies could have been bought into the UK during that two years.
Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, expressed disappointment at the time taken over the bill.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said, “The bill, as far as we’ve seen, looks to be in pretty good shape, but it has been two years since it was originally announced in the Queen’s speech, and many animals have been cruelly and needlessly killed in that time.
“So it is really imperative for the government to bring the bill to parliament as quickly as possible.”
Gonçalves said he had heard from ministers that the bill could come to parliament next spring or summer, by which time “potentially another 100 or more animals will be killed and their trophies brought back to Britain”.
He said, “Delay costs lives: every week that goes by without this ban means more animals, including endangered species, are being shot by British hunters, and their trophies brought back to the country.
“Some of these species are careering towards extinction, and certainly the British public are very strongly opposed to trophy hunting.”
How the UK trophy ban will protect wild animals
The planet’s biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate.
According to a statement by the UK government, the population of African 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 even entire ecosystems.
The ban of trophy imports from these endangered and threatened animals is expected to help to reduce the threats many of these species are already facing.
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.”
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