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UK Secretary of State of the Environment (Andrea Leadsom) has so far written two letters in reply to calls by UK constituents to their MPs to prevent further lion trophy hunting imports into the UK.

The replies given, in our opinion, are not factual, and not cognizant of the real threats facing lions.

A. In her reply on the issue to Lord Gardiner (an Undersecretary of State of Environment in her Department) and to Anne Milton MP, Ms Leadsom said:

1. “The UK played a key role in developing a proposal for enhanced global rules on hunting and trade in animal parts for consideration by the 17th Conference of CITES Parties… Parties agreed to tighten trade controls to require export permits for trade even in the less endangered Appendix II species … This is a positive step towards ensuring the sustainability of hunting”.

In fact, it is a moot point whether or not the “UK played a key role..”. It was the EU Commission that decided how to vote on any particular issue at CITES CoP 17. At  CoP17 all EU Members cast their 28 votes as a bloc? 

As for Ms Leadsom’s contention that trade measures are a “positive step towards ensuring the sustainability of hunting”, the facts are that there is NOT ONE African species that has benefited from trade via trophy hunting whose populations have increased in the wild.

Ms Leadsom goes on to say:

2. “The Government recognizes that properly managed, legal and sustainable hunting can play a part in species conservation efforts, including providing funding for conservation.” 

We would challenge Ms Leadsom’s statement on this. Can she provide a single example of where an African species has benefited from trophy hunting, especially in the case of lions?

  • As in real numbers to show that lions thrive in hunting concessions and do not need to be lured out of national parks as was the case with Cecil as just one example?
  • As in real numbers as to how hunting companies are spending money to effectively conserve species their clients are harvesting?
  • As in real financial and tangible benefits to communities on whose land much of such hunting occurs? (And please no more fake pictures of schools, clinics, boreholes that hunting companies are supposed to provide – perhaps Ms Leadsom could provide some funding for a REAL investigation as to how much or little rural communities gain from trophy hunting? Or would she accept the pittance shown by an IUCN report that says communities earn $4 per year per square kilometre to communities?).

Ms Leadsom then provides the final dismissive statement:

3. “We have no plans to ban the import of animals or animal parts of endangered species legally hunted abroad.”

Contrary to this statement, the UK already bans many imports of species and their products “legally hunted” abroad?

  • Like Canadian and Namibian fur seals?
  • Like any whale meat from Iceland and Norway?
  • Like walrus ivory from Canada? Like wolf products from Canada, USA, Norway?    


B. Ms  Leadsom then had to deal with a SECOND letter. In this case, the constituent wrote to Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As in being the number two in Government, sort of like a vice president in other nations.

1. In her reply to “Philip”, Ms Leadsom restates the same message she said about CITES, and that “legal and sustainable trophy hunting can play a part in species conservation efforts, for example, by providing an important source of funding for conservation….” Etc. See response to this statement in point 2 above.

2. Ms Leadsom also says the UK is still guided by EU rules, and that these might prohibit “… import of trophies from certain countries where hunting of lions cannot be considered sustainable…”

But now we have confusion between Ms Leadsom's two replies.

Is she still going to

  • have no plans to ban the import of animals legally hunted abroad”? 
  • Is she going to prohibit imports of lion trophies from countries where hunting is not considered sustainable?
  • And how will she be able to make any judgement on “sustainability”?
  • And why was her reply so different to “Philip” compared to what she wrote to backbench MP Anne Milton?

It is surely time to abandon all hope of sustainable utilization as a means of wildlife conservation. After at least two decades of failure, what more evidence is required?

It is time to reject, after decades of false evidence, that trophy hunting provides a benefit to conservation. 

It is time to listen to the UK public and their letters to their MPs forwarded to Ms Leadsom for reply. It is time to not use staff and the Policy Research Unit letter writing service to provide replies for Ms Leadsom's signature containing content that seems to greatly differ between the 31st January and the 2nd February?

There is an opportunity here for Ms Leadsom to be the change, not the mouthpiece?

Posted by Chris Macsween at 19:49

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