The British public have made their feelings known with respect to trophy hunting in a YouGov poll commissioned by Humane Society International/UK and the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. Only 14% of the respondents in the survey said that a ban should only apply to threatened or endangered species and a mere 2% said that the government should not bring in any restrictions. Overwhelmingly (76%), therefore, of the British public want a ban on trophy hunted imports into the UK for all species. Why, therefore, is the government dragging its heels as it usually does on this topic?
Trophy hunting is defended by the hunters as a benefit to conservation and it does have conservation ramifications but studies show that trophy hunting has had devastating impacts on many species’ populations and resulted in the extinction of some.
Letter to The Times
In a letter to The Times by nine politicians from different parties, they argue that hunters exercise artificial selection by singling out and killing the biggest animals. This weakens the gene pool of that species and leaves it unable to adapt and survive threats such as climate change. Conversely, where trophy hunting has been suspended, there has been a recovery in populations of hunted animals.
On an economic basis, it pays for countries which allow trophy hunting to convert to nature tourism because it creates more than 11 times as many jobs than trophy hunting.
The key issue is a matter of ethics. The letter refers to the UK poll, which I have above and also to the fact that trophy hunting lacks respect for wild animals and for the conservationists who dedicate their lives to protecting wild species. They urge the UK government to take a bold step in banning the importation of all trophy hunt artefacts into the UK.
There is one other ethical issue which is not mentioned in the letter and which I would like to refer to. It is also about the ethics of trophy hunting also. Nobody with even a modest degree of decency can argue that a person should derive pleasure from the killing of an innocent animal who will feel intense pain when being shot. On the one hand you have pleasure and on the other pain. You cannot derive pleasure from pain unless you are an indecently-minded person who lacks a moral compass.
The Times also tells us that hunters are importing many more trophies of animals bred in captivity because of a decline in wild big game species as claimed by anti-hunting groups.
These groups say that lions, black bears, white rhinos, leopards and zebras are being targeted on ranches in enclosures. A lot of us now know about canned lion hunting which is highly objectionable. These are lions reared as kittens and used as kittens for petting and then when they grow up they are confined to a modest-sized enclosure where they are shot by a trophy hunter.
Between 2013 and 2017, a total of 109 trophies of captive-bred animals were imported into the UK whereas in the previous five years, according to data collected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, 37 animals were imported. Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, has promised to ban the import of trophies. Let’s see it happen as a matter of urgency, please. His girlfriend, Carrie Symonds should encourage him and I believe that she has.