AIA directors Judith Wilkings and Dr Christina Nellist joined the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting’s Westminster Hall’s reception and launch of “Trophy Hunting & Britain: the Case for a Ban” on Wednesday 29th June 2022. Judith gives this account of the impact of this ground-breaking event.
by Judith Wilkings
Sir Roger Gale MP was Chair. Eduardo Gonçalves introduced the speakers who included RT Hon George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; H.E. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President, Botswana (2008-2018); Snr Elder Boniface of the Maasai; Kris Verduycht from the Belgium Parliament; Dr Adam Cruise, a leading South African academic & researcher; Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE Founder-The Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace sent a message via film.
Eduardo Gonçalves had organised the event to coincide with the 7th year anniversary of the death of Cecil, the lion who was killed on 2nd July 2015 by Walter Palmer, an American dentist, using a bow and arrow.
Dr Jane Goodall’s message spoke of Trophy hunters killing for pleasure. Destroying animals for bragging rights supposedly to demonstrate some misguided sense of fearlessness and courage. She warned that the hunting lobby will work hard to preserve the status quo and if we want to maintain our reputation as an animal loving nation, all hunting trophies should be banned from Britain. Time is of the essence as many species killed by trophy hunters are close to extinction.
RT Hon George Eustice MP spoke of the Bill’s progress through Parliament and the Government’s commitment to pass the Bill. It will be back in the House of Commons on 25th November 2022 for a second reading. He thanked the former President of Botswana, H.E. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, for his time the day before, when they’d had a long discussion about trophy hunting.
Kris Verduycht from the Belgium Parliament said that the Belgium Parliament had voted unanimously to ban Trophy hunting imports from entering Belgium and 91% of the public supported the decision.
H.E. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, spoke about his time as President of Botswana. They had banned trophy hunting. They instinctively knew photographic tourism would preserve nature and lead to a revival of many species. During his time in office, they introduced 300 to 400 rhinos into the wild. He said that nature tourism was the only way forward to conserve the wildlife.
Snr Elder Boniface of the Maasai explained how Maasai warriors used to hunt a mature lion to prove their warriorhood, but they realised they could benefit from wildlife by conserving it. Furthermore, they needed to stop all traditional and cultural activities that involved killing an animal. Now the community receives a share of the revenue collected from Maasai Mara National Reserve. It uses the money to educate the children from the local villages. Boniface spoke of trophy hunting as a terrible, cruel and barbaric idea and warned of the misinformation campaign used by the hunting organisations to promote and protect their deadly trade.
Dr Adam Cruise also warned about the hunting organisations who rely on two pillars to mislead. That it improves African communities and gives conservation benefits. He says both are a distortion of the truth. His undercover work in Namibia, which purports to support wildlife and rural communities, has shown that wildlife numbers are decreasing and the local community is kept in a cycle of impoverishment. Dr Cruise spoke of letters being sent to MPs by organisations claiming to represent ordinary African people. ‘Our research also suggests that some of the supposed signatories did not actually sign the letter.’
All of the speakers cautioned that Trophy hunters are depleting the gene pool of lions, rhino, elephants, giraffes’ polar bears to name a few. They kill the largest animals which are crucial for the breeding of the species. They urged MPs, Ministers and NGOs gathered in the room to be aware of the power, money and influence of the hunting industry & Gun Club Lobby. Eduardo Gonçalves said that The Times revealed Britain’s pro hunting lobby is funded by top allies of Vladimir Putin. The Guardian reports the American gun lobby is behind the campaigns to block a British trophy ban. He warned of a Smart Ban something that the lobbyists would use to derail the Bill going through Parliament.
In the Executive Summary I was given at the launch, under the name of Inclusive Conservation Group, I read an extract from The Safari Club International-funded strategy document to deceive British Ministers and MP’s. ‘SHAPE, INFORM, INFLUENCE, MANIPULATE, MISLEAD, EXPOSE, DIMINISH, PROMOTE, DECEIVE, COERCE, DETER, MOBILIZE, CONVINCE.’
“With the decline of wildlife worldwide, and many species approaching extinction, all caused by man, how can there be justification in trophy hunting? How can any government say they are fighting poaching whilst allowing trophy hunting? I call upon those countries from where these promoters of extinction come from to ban the import of trophies.”
H.E. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President, Botswana (2008-2018)