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

It would make enough difference for the hon. Gentleman to turn up for the debate, and for me to do so. It would also make enough difference for all the representatives of those southern African countries who care about the creatures that we all purport to care about to say that the Bill is wrong. In fact, they said:

“If income streams from trophy hunting were substantially reduced—as would be the outcome of this Bill—land would be abandoned and subject to poaching, or converted to less biodiversity-friendly uses, such as agriculture and livestock production. Local communities who live near and with wildlife would suffer.”

I think it is pretty clear that they do not think that the hon. Gentleman is right. The statement ends:

Southern Africa’s track record on conservation is world-leading, and we use trophy hunting to do it. Let us continue to do so.”

I recognise that that is awkward for Opposition Members who care about animals, but the people who are responsible for those animals are telling us that we are wrong.

Botswana is the top country in the world for large animals, with Namibia second and Tanzania third. All three countries have paid hunting, which finances protected space and armed guards for those animals. The country that is 123rd in the world—that is us—is, in the words of David Attenborough, one of

“the most nature depleted countries in the world”.

We got rid of the last brown bear 1,000 years ago and our last wolves 264 years ago.

Africa’s human population has risen eightfold during our lifetimes, causing immense pressure on the land available for wildlife. That means that Africans increasingly come into conflict with big animals, which may eat their goats, threaten their children or trample their villages. Last year, Botswana’s Minister for Environment and Tourism started an article published in the Daily Mail by saying:

“Last month, I attended the funeral of two villagers in my homeland, Botswana. Both were in their teens, tragically killed by charging wild buffalo as they travelled to school and work. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.”

She went on to say:

“believe me, I do understand the horror people feel when they see a photograph of a trophy hunting person posing beside a recent kill. Lion killings in particular seem to cause outrage among Britons, especially after the notorious shooting of Cecil the lion by a US trophy hunter in Zimbabwe in 2015. The widely circulated picture of Walter Palmer standing over Cecil’s body became emblematic of man’s destructive relationship with nature. Reasonable though this reaction is, it is a knee-jerk one. It fails to acknowledge that for many Africans, trophy hunting is vital for the local population. It is a wildlife conservation measure that generates income used to combat illegal poaching, support community development and enhance habitat protection. Sadly,” she says, we

“all too often…focus solely on animal welfare at the expense of human life in Africa.”

I have thought carefully about the amendment that I intend to table. The Bill does not need to keep coming back in the way in which the right hon. Member for Warley has brought it back. My amendment will ensure that the Bill protects certain species, while recognising that other countries may be even better at managing conservation than we are. It will allow the Secretary of State to add or withdraw countries from a list of those that issue hunting licences and show sufficient levels of concern for conservation. Any hunting trophy obtained under licence in a country that was on the list would be exempt from the ban. Kenya would not be on the list, as it does not allow hunting and its wildlife numbers, sadly, have declined; but countries that do allow it and are doing a good job should be allowed to continue.

This Bill is being questioned by science and by African countries, and there is no excuse for blundering into inadvertent racism. If we want Africa’s big animals to survive into the future, I ask the House not to ignore the science and the misinformation that endangers the animals that we care the most about.