Saviours or Sinners?

If like me, you abhor the thought of trophy hunting, in any shape or form, then perhaps the UK’s controversial trophy ban has been received with unanimous support, not only from yourself but throughout the House of Commons on all sides, as members queued to congratulate those who campaigned for the new law. There are some amendments to follow, ensuring the ban remains restricted to endangered species.

 There is however, well documented evidence that trophy hunting, when well-managed is a force for good, bringing in revenue and incentives to conserve Africa’s endangered wildlife. This is an extremely emotive and polarizing issue. Many southern African government officials and communities are against the UK’s ban and have been lobbying for the law to be dropped. The ideal of hunting revenue being a source of funding for wildlife conservation, is just that, an ideal.

 According to an article in the New York Times, an investigation reported a director of a sporting agency admitting that 90pct of the hunting fees goes straight into someone’s pocket, while other reports have stated some local African communities get as little as 3pct. There is sparse evidence that the money is being used to help threatened species, mostly because of rampant corruption in some countries, and it concluded that trophy hunting may be contributing to the extinction of certain animals. A deeply disturbing report.

 A headline in the Independent newspaper, claims trophy hunters are offered prizes for using cruel bows and arrows to kill their prey, prolonging the suffering and agony of a dying animal. I’m sure most of us read the tragic end to Cecil the lion, shot with arrows, and after 40 agonising hours was finally put out of his misery with a bullet. This of course, is repulsive to any civilised human being, and some believe Mother Nature has gone beyond trying to heal herself and now has her back to the wall.

 Wildlife watching tourism generates far more income to support conservation and provides far more jobs for local people. So where is this misguided justification that killing and maiming these beautiful creatures is actually saving and preserving them. Basically, anyone wishing to kill and maim, can claim they are helping conservation by virtue of paying a trophy fee. Although it has to be said, most African protected areas are woefully underfunded and sadly more lions are speared, snared or poisoned by poachers than trophy hunters.

 Here in the UK, pheasants and partridges are bred to be shot. Millions of game birds being bred and released every year, our reptiles and adders are a particular delicacy of the pheasants. Adders are predicted to become extinct within twelve years, thanks to uncontrolled release of these birds and the actions of shooting estates.

We all want nature to thrive, and must help tackle the terrifying threat of climate change. All of us want a world where our children can see lions and other wildlife. So surely, any form of hunting, whether abroad or here in the UK, should not be allowed and it is not acceptable in todays fragile world.