As many of you know, WildCru were asked to submit a report to the UK Government on the effectiveness of lion trophy hunting as a conservation tool. In December 2016, this report predictably recommended that lion trophy hunting should continue, albeit with several hopeful caveats. Read our critical analysis of this report here.
We urged all of you who, like us, greeted this biased report with dismay to write to your UK MP and register your discontent and to urge your MP to get involved and support a UK wide lion trophy import ban.
At time of writing, we are aware of some 50 MPs contacted. Current list of which MPs and any replies so far received (that we are aware of) is here.
Two important things have emerged so far from this exercise:
1. A standard reply written by the Parliamentary Policy Research Unit (a commercial service that will provide an answering service for MPs who do not choose to write their own replies) keeps appearing in reply to the letters sent. How disgraceful is this?
So you can recognise if your reply is the standard text or a version of it, here it is:
“Thank you for contacting me about the conservation of lions.
I entirely agree with you that lions are an iconic species that deserve our best protection, and I am glad that the UK Government is committed to conserving the world’s wildlife.
I know there have been serious concerns raised about African lion hunting trophy imports. The wildlife trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, whose approach is to ensure that the trade is conducted legally and sustainably, not necessarily to reduce or end it. At its most recent conference the UK payed a ey role in developing of a proposal for enhanced global rules on hunting and trade. The resulting tightening of controls are a very positive step towards ensuring sustainability.
Import controls are managed at an EU-wide level and stricter controls on the import of six species subject to hunting, including lions and African elephants, were introduced in 2015. Following our withdrawal from the EU, The Government will be in a position to consider future UK policy in this area.
As part of its efforts to tackle the illegal wildlife trade, the Government hosted and led the London Conference on Wildlife Trafficking, where over 40 countries adopted the London Declaration in an effort to save iconic species from being poached to the brink of extinction. It has also set up the £13 million Illegal Wildlife Challenge Fund to support projects in the developing world, and in 2012 funded a conference in Johannesburg to consider conservation of the African lion with other interested countries.
Thank you for taking the time to contact me.”
This letter is factually incorrect and we will write a full explanation of all the assertions made in the next day or two.
If you received this text, or a version of it, please let us know soonest. We are keeping a list of which MPs have resorted to using this answering service to reply to constituents.
2. Andrea Leadsom, the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was contacted by Lord Gardiner about the situation. Lord Gardiner, in turn, had been contacted about this by an MP in response to some letters from constituents.
Ms Leadsom in reply directly to the said MP has written the following:
“The Government recognises that properly managed, legal and sustainable hunting can play a part in species conservation, including by providing funding for conservation. We have no plans to ban the import of animals or animal parts of endangered species legally hunted abroad. We will however continue to monitor the impact of such hunting.”
So there you have it!!
An SNP MP, Corri Wilson, is planning to host a Round Table discussion of MPs on the subject of the UK Government’s position on lions in the coming weeks. LionAid will be invited to present evidence - science based facts – at this discussion. Once we have the date confirmed, we will let you all know and then please will you urge your MP to attend on your behalf.
The fight is on for lions and on this Valentine’s day of love for one another, please can we share some love for our rapidly declining lions. They cannot fight for their lives by themselves in this politically charged arena. BUT WE CAN –AND WE MUST IF WE ARE NOT TO LOSE THIS ICONIC SPECIES FOR EVER.
If you haven’t yet sent your letter to your local MP, all the details of how to do it are here. And please let us know who which MP you contacted so we can keep our website list up to date.