The Conservative Party have broken a promise to ban people from importing lion hunting trophies, usually in the grizzly form of lion body parts such as heads, skins, skulls, and paws, into the UK.
In 2015, the then Tory Environment Minister, Rory Stewart, told an audience at Westminster Hall:
“Unless there is a significant improvement in the performance of the hunting industry and of those countries, this government will move to ban lion trophies”
And in an answer to a written question from the then SNP MP, Paul Monaghan in 2016 – which is still live on the government website – Stewart repeated the promise, stating:
“I recognise that there are real concerns about the impact of trophy hunting on lion conservation. As I announced in Parliament on 24 November 2015, the Government will ban lion trophy imports within the next two years unless there are improvements in the way hunting takes place in certain countries, judged against strict criteria. We will work with our European and international partners, and experts in the field, to reach a common approach to this issue.”
Furthermore, the then Environment Secretary Liz Truss repeated the promise in the same year, categorically stating that:
“Unless we see improvements in the way hunting takes place, judged against strict criteria, we will ban lion trophy imports within the next two years.”
However, despite the fact that experts in the field say that there have been absolutely no improvements in the industry, and that wild populations have actually plummeted from around 20,000 in 2016 to about 15,000 today, the Tories have still not delivered on their repeated promise.
Figures from 2018 showed that around 400 hunting trophies from endangered species have been imported into the UK in recent years, and 158 MPs have signed a cross-party Parliamentary Early Day motion demanding the government finally delivers on their promise to ban the practice entirely.
Chris Macsween, a member of Lion Aid – a charity who work globally to save lions and end the decline of wild lion populations – said of the government’s broke promise:
“It’s awful. The number of wild lions is falling and numbers of canned [bred in captivity] lions in the cruel shooting industry is going up, yet it’s never on anyone’s agenda. It’s heartbreaking.”
Whilst a spokeswoman for the Humane Society International said that the industry had not made any improvements, stating:
“The situation in South Africa, which exports more lion trophies than any other country, is exactly the same as in 2016.”
Responding to the criticism over their broken pledge, the Tory-led Environment Department simply referred to a recent statement by Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey which states the Tories’ belief that they were already doing enough already to curb the situation:
“A permit will only be issued if no detrimental impact on the survival of endangered species is demonstrated and the item has been obtained from a legal and sustainable hunting operation.
“We are looking carefully at this issue and … plan to hold a roundtable discussion with organisations from all sides of the debate to gain a better understanding of the issues as well as consider any further scientific advice.”
A demonstration, scheduled for April 13th 2019, will see thousands of protestors march on Parliament to demand the Tories finally ban the cruel practice of trophy hunting imports:
“The 5th Global March for Elephants and Rhinos will take place on April 13th with cities around the world joining in a huge day of action for endangered wildlife.”
“[…] Our key domestic action will be to call for the government to ban the import of hunting trophies of endangered species to the UK. Around 2,500 gruesome trophies have been brought home by British hunters over the past decade – heads and other body parts of endangered wild animals including elephants, lions, zebras, hippos, giraffes, leopards – all killed for ‘sport’. Thousands of lions are raised on farms in South Africa for the brutal ‘canned hunting’ industry, where they are kept caged from birth and finally shot by trophy hunters. These cruel and barbaric practices continue to decimate already endangered species and drive them closer to extinction.”
“Despite a pledge by ministers in 2015 to ban the import of lion trophies, it was not enforced – in fact more than half of the lion trophies imported to the UK in the past decade have come in the last 3 years. (Sound familiar? Remember how long it took the government to act on the ivory ban?)”
“We want our government to take an unequivocal stand and to set an example for other countries to follow, by ending hunting permits for endangered species and banning all imports of their remains.”
The current Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has refused to confirm that the government will ever deliver on their now three-year old broken pledge.