Grahame Morris MP has expressed support for a joint letter sent on behalf of 13 animal protection organisations, urging the Government to ‘implement a comprehensive ban on the import and export of hunting trophies without delay.’
In a letter to George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, signatories express concern that, despite it having closed on 25th February 2020, the Government has yet to publish the results of a consultation on controls on the import and export of hunting trophies. In response to questions from MPs, the Government has stated that ‘it will publish the Government response as soon as it is practical to do so,’ but has yet to set out a timeline.
The letter notes a pledge made in the 2019 Conservative manifesto that ‘we will…ban imports from trophy hunting of endangered animals.’ It also points out that, as recently as 12th February 2020, in response to a Parliamentary question from Pauline Latham MP, the Prime Minister expressly stated: “we mean to end the import of trophies hunted elsewhere into this country.”
Every year, hundreds of thousands of wild animals are killed by trophy hunters. The letter explains that, contrary to what is often claimed, trophy hunters do not typically target ‘problem’ or ‘redundant’ animals, but instead covet animals with traits that make them desirable ‘trophies’, such as the biggest tusks or horns, or the darkest, most impressive manes. It states that, ‘such animals often play key roles within their societies, and their removal can disrupt family groups, prides or herds, and the wider ecology, and lead to increased conflict between wild animals and people, as well as damaging the genetic integrity of wildlife populations.’
Trophy hunters come from all over the world, including the UK. Over the past decade, some 2,500 trophies from protected species, including elephants, hippopotamus, zebra, leopards, lions, bears, and even baboons, have been imported by UK-based trophy hunters. As well as causing immense individual animal suffering, the trophy hunting industry is corrupt; the ecology in hunting areas in many countries is collapsing, and the bulk of the money generated never reaches local communities or conservation projects.
Signatories maintain that the overwhelming majority of the British public do not support trophy hunting and note that, when asked, 76% said a ban on the import and exports of hunting trophies should apply to all animal species, and not just those which are threatened or endangered.
Grahame Morris MP said, “Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has understandably dominated Government business and media attention over recent weeks and months, it is vital that this damaging practise is addressed. I support calls for the swift publication of the Government consultation on trophy hunting imports and exports, and the implementation of a comprehensive UK ban.”
The Easington MP also signed Early Day Motion #50, which advocates for a ban on trophy hunting imports, in January.