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Yesterday we wrote about the Parliamentary Question about UK lion trophy hunting imports that Michael Gove declined to answer on the grounds that it was “argumentative”. Please see the previous blog post for details.

Today, as promised, we bring you the four remaining questions that were asked and the answers received, not from Michael Gove but from Dr Therese Coffey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Three of the questions were answered with only a single response.

These Questions were:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence there is that wild lion trophy hunting has contributed to the conservation of the species.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence there is that sustainable hunting has led to an increase in wildlife on African trophy hunting concession areas.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether there is evidence that rural communities in (a) Tanzania, (b) Zambia and (c) Zimbabwe have benefitted from lion trophy hunting in those countries.”

The response from Dr Therese Coffey was as follows:

“The Government has previously commissioned a report by Professor Macdonald on Lion Conservation with Particular Respect to the Issue of Trophy Hunting. This report found that the primary benefit associated with trophy hunting is the protection of wildlife habitat by reducing the major threat of habitat loss. Lion trophy hunting enables land to be maintained under wildlife based land use and often prevents the conversion of the area to other forms of land use such as agriculture. This habitat protection is also important for many other species, including endangered species. The report notes that a total area of around 1.4 million km2 was conserved for trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa which exceeded the area of national parks in those countries by 22%. The report also cited studies on the number of jobs supported by trophy hunting.

Environmental non-governmental organisations take different views on trophy hunting. My Hon. Friend may be interested in the evidence cited by the IUCN, WWF and Save the Rhino.”

Our response to this weak reply:

The evidence called for in each of the Questions asked has not in any way been provided. The specific questions were ignored.

Instead, the answer suggests generally that primary benefit of lion trophy hunting is the protection of wildlife habitat and expands on this hypothesis by stating that the 1.4 million km2 conserved for trophy hunting in sub Saharan Africa exceeds national parks by 22%.

In stating this, there is an assumption on their part that the 1.4 million km2 conserved for trophy hunting somehow equates with endangered species protection. WRONG!

The shocking reality is that 70% of hunting concessions in Tanzania are now defunct and totally devoid of wildlife and equally 24 out of 36 Game Management Areas (GMA’s) in Zambia are totally devoid of wildlife.

In other words, hunting concessions have largely shot out or failed to prevent the loss of wildlife in those areas – a far cry from conserving wildlife! THIS IS IN NO WAY CONSERVATION and this is a betrayal of the trust citizens of those countries have placed in their Government to maintain their wildlife heritage for future generations.  

The answer curiously goes on to mention NGOs with “different views on trophy hunting” but then goes on to cite the examples of the IUCN, WWF and Save the Rhino. ALL THREE OF THESE ORGANISATIONS have published policy documents on their respective websites, stating that trophy hunting is a valid conservation tool. What different views are these then? All three organisations chosen by Dr Therese Coffey support trophy hunting and all three were represented at Michael Gove’s Roundtable discussion on the 15th May, arguing that trophy hunting imports should NOT be banned in the UK.

The fourth Parliamentary Question asked of Michael Gove was:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of wild lions there will be in Africa by 2025 if the current rate of hunting continues.”

The response from Dr Therese Coffey was as follows:

“The Government has not made an assessment of future numbers of African lions in 2025 if current levels continue.”

So why haven’t they? Isn’t that rather irresponsible? If you are condoning the continued sport hunting of lions in the face of continuing catastrophic (and well documented) declines, shouldn’t it be incumbent on you to project the outcomes of this continued endorsement on the survival of this important species? Or are they saying they really don’t care? You decide. We know what we think.

Please would you support our work on this campaign calling on the UK Government to ban the imports of lion trophy imports with immediate effect.

Please DONATE if you can. This campaign is taking all of our limited financial resources and we need your support to keep up the pressure on the UK Government to act.

Before you buy that next cup of coffee, think how even that small sum donated to us could help us keep up the fight for lions!!

Our online petition now stands at over 413,000 signatures so that’s an additional 6,000 signatures in the last 24 hours! Fantastic, thank you. Have you signed yet? Please keep going. We need more of you to keep exerting more and more pressure!

And a big thank you to those of you who have donated to the cause. We will write to each of you as soon as time allows. Your support is hugely appreciated. We hope very many more people will join you in helping us fight this crucial fight for lions.



Posted by Chris Macsween at 14:38

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