UK parliament votes in favour of 5-year ban on import of hunting trophies; Zimbabwe gets 25% of conservation funding from professional hunters

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By Leopold Munhende

THE UK Parliament Friday voted in favour of amendments to the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill that will effect a five year ban on hunting trophy imports if passed into law.

The bill, which acknowledged the importance of fees paid by trophy hunters in conservation of Africa’s wildlife, however raised questions of whether its motive was supported by science.

It was introduced by Member of Parliament (MP) Henry Smith in 2022 and now moves to the House of Lords from the House of Commons.

Arguments raised before the amendments and were eventually accepted, acknowledged African parks and wildlife administrators were getting part of their funding to fight poaching from trophy hunting.

If passed the proposed amendment will affect the import of hunting trophies from endangered species such as elephants, rhinos, lions and giraffes.

Conservative Party MP Bill Wiggin questioned whether it was meant to save African wildlife.

Conservative Party MP Bill Wiggin

I have been concerned throughout the progress of the Bill that it is not motivated by a desire to see African wildlife flourish and prosper. If it were, it would have paid heed to the scientific evidence provided by experts in conservation,” said Wiggin.

British conservationists Professor Amy Dickman and Adam Hart have argued that 90% of protected areas with lions are severely underfunded. Removing trophy hunting without providing suitable alternative revenue will expose those underfunded protected areas to further risks, such as poaching.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, trophy hunting is not considered to be a threat driving any species to extinction. Instead, trophy hunting generates revenue for anti-poaching and habitat conservation.

Wiggin added that British High Commissioners in Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe had argued in a letter to the UK Minister of State in the Foreign Office that “well-managed trophy hunting—the prevailing model in all our countries—contributes to reductions in habitat loss and poaching.”

Said South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne: “We are all united in this House in trying to protect endangered African wildlife. I have seen a lot of it out in the wild and I applaud those efforts. What there is disagreement about is the best way to do that.

There are all these statistics that there is debate about. I have lots of statistics that I will not bother quoting because no one will believe them.

If the argument is that trophy hunting needs to continue to provide funding for conservation efforts, and that is the only reason to allow it to continue, should not pressure be put on this Government and internationally to ensure there are other routes of funding conservation efforts?

It cannot be right that the main way to fund the conservation of endangered species is to allow the killing of endangered species.

Zimbabwe, much like most African countries, has failed to fund protection of wildlife as a result of ‘other pressing economic matters’ according to ZimParks Spokesperson Tinashe Farawo.