I understand concerns about trophy hunting imports and I agree that it is important we protect endangered animals across the world. I am encouraged that the UK Government is committed to conserving the world’s wildlife. I truly believe that as sentient beings who can experience fear and pain, all animals should be treated with thought and care. Trophy hunting involves pursuing another animal in conditions which cause it stress, fear and pain, with hunters killing as a form of entertainment, not for food, to control pests or to protect other species.
I understand that there are arguments for conservation hunting. Some individuals and organisations make the case for conservation hunting as a way of bringing income into countries with rich wildlife populations but poor economies. They also argue that commercial hunting provides a strong incentive to manage and safeguard wildlife populations and protect other valuable natural resources from exploitation. I also recognise that occasionally there is a need to cull some species to keep nature in balance and the control of predators to protect other species.
However, I cannot see how those justifications can be used to defend hunters who kill an animal which has been bred in captivity for the specific purpose of being hunted for entertainment. I believe action is needed to stop this sort of exploitation, and to establish how defensible the arguments for conservation hunting are. I am therefore pleased that a call for evidence on trophy hunting has recently been announced.
This call for evidence will evaluate whether countries with rich wildlife populations can make just as much income from wildlife tourism than from hunting. The Government will also look closely at other nations such as Australia and the Netherlands, which have much tighter restrictions on importing trophies.