Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 10:36 am ar 22 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Llafur, Eltham 10:36, 22 Mawrth 2024

It is an honour to follow Sir Bill Wiggin, but I cannot say that I agreed with a single word of his speech. He quoted David Attenborough, but David Attenborough has described trophy hunting as “incomprehensible” and certainly does not support it. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend John Spellar for presenting the Bill, to Henry Smith for his earlier work, and to our departed friend Bob Blizzard, who did an enormous amount of work on this issue when he was a Member.

I wanted to make this short contribution because I had the privilege of going on safari when my wife and I visited Africa. It was the trip of a lifetime. If I ever have the chance to go back and do it again I do not think it will be the same trip, because the first experience of seeing these magnificent beasts in their own habitat is something you never forget. I want to impress that on the people who seek what I suppose is the “thrill” of murdering these beasts.

Within two hours of arriving at our camp, we were in a truck being taken to look at the wildlife. As we sat in that open-sided truck, a lion walked past the bottom of it; I could look down and see its back as it walked past me. I sat there and thought, “What the hell am I doing here?” There is no cage around the truck, but you trust entirely the stranger you have just met—the guide who takes you around—while a wild beast only a couple of metres away walks calmly past the truck.

The experience of getting close to those animals is something never to be forgotten, but the most memorable experience was seeing, beside the Chobe river in Botswana, a herd of elephants feeding at dusk, talking and grumbling to one another as they ate the reeds on the river bank. We got quite close to these huge beasts, and felt entirely safe. Indeed, we felt that we were privileged to be so close to them in their natural habitat.

The idea that anyone would go into that environment with a gun and slaughter those animals is beyond me. If you want to experience wildlife, don’t go murdering it; get up close to it and experience it in that way. I ask Members to imagine this for a minute. There were probably about a dozen people in our truck. If every one of us had a gun and went out slaughtering these animals, the effect across the species would be enormous, but when large numbers of us go to these countries armed with cameras rather than guns, the effect on their economies is enormous.

We have heard arguments today about being racist towards African countries, but it is not just about African countries. I have not heard anyone say we are being racist to Canadians by not wanting polar bears to be imported. In the words of David Attenborough, this is incomprehensible.