Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 10:20 am ar 22 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection, Chair, Committee of Selection 10:20, 22 Mawrth 2024

The African countries find it appalling that British politicians show no concern for the African lives threatened by these animals. They are furious with the virtue-signalling proposals, which lack scientific credibility. Time and again, they return with the facts and they are completely ignored by hon. Members in this debate.

I will come on to what Oxford University said about the facts and figures given by John Spellar. This week, Botswana’s Minister for Environment and Tourism, along with the high commissioners of Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana, came to this House to express their dissatisfaction with the Bill. This is significantly different from when my hon. Friend Henry Smith brought forward his Bill. There was no pushback from African countries then. Now we are seeing significant unhappiness from those countries about the Bill. DEFRA Ministers and their Labour shadows know that the high commissioners of the six African nations have jointly condemned the Bill as inexcusable meddling in Africa’s democratic affairs.

There are in the UK tens of thousands of trophy hunting animals that the Bill does not cover. If the UK hates trophy hunting, it should ban it here first. I do not particularly want to see that, but that is what people in Africa feel.

On Second Reading of last year’s Bill that proposed such a ban, the Minister told the Commons that its purpose was to reduce the “impossible pressures” on Africa’s wildlife. Other MPs argued that the measure would save thousands of animals from the barbaric and savage African practice of legal hunting. Indeed, Rosie Duffield used other such adjectives, but this is misleading. In fact, MPs’ statements on Second Reading were analysed in an Oxford University study, and 70% were deemed to be factually incorrect.

The Bill covers 6,000 species and most of those are not threatened by trophy hunting. Since 2000, the UK has imported about 1% of the species in the Bill—that is in 24 years. At least 20 species that the UK imports may be or are benefiting from trophy hunting. Rural Africa welcomes controlled legal hunting, as it helps to manage excessive herds and rogue animals. Furthermore, the fees that hunters pay bring significant amounts of cash into remote areas, where tourists and photo safaris cannot get to. This creates incentives for villagers to refrain from poisoning, snaring or shooting the animals.

Between 20% and 100% of concession fees usually go towards community land. Africans know that legal hunting reduces illegal hunting. It is the poaching, often funded by Chinese criminal gangs, that puts at critical risk the survival of the species that we all treasure. Those brutal gangs are indiscriminate in how many animals they kill. By contrast, legal hunting estates need and want to grow their herds to ensure the future of their businesses, and that is why they invest heavily in anti-poaching patrols. They provide the armed guards that are vital to protect these animals from gruesome deaths. This legal hunting operates under strict quotas, agreed by national Governments and the international regulator. As a result, the herds have flourished. One paper found that in Kenya, where hunting has long been banned, there has been a dramatic fall in wildlife numbers. Another study found that Botswana, which did ban hunting, saw a horrific surge in human-wildlife conflict, with a 593% increase in the discovery of elephant carcases. That disaster led to a quick reversal of the ban.

In 2016, briefings from the International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that

“legal, well regulated trophy hunting programs can, and do, play an important role in delivering benefits for both wildlife conservation and for the livelihoods and wellbeing of indigenous and local communities”.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Namibia’s Minister for Environment and Tourism said:

“We are most concerned about how this proposed law would undermine the finances of our Protected Areas and Conservancies… The lack of dedicated land and the protection which protected hunting pays for would critically undermine the survival of species which we all love.”

He went on to say:

“The implications of this legislation, therefore, extend far beyond what has become known as ‘trophy’ hunting, potentially impacting the livelihoods of rural communities that rely on the revenue it generates.”

A joint statement from southern African Government representatives in the UK opposed the Bill.