Article Dec. 2018 - J. Hopkins
The fact that importing from trophy hunters isn’t illegal in the UK is shocking. I believe the UK to be a forward-thinking country but how can this be said when this abhorrent practice is allowed to continue, with hunters importing these so-called ‘trophies’ into the UK? I acknowledge that hunting, if used properly and effectively, can be an extremely useful tool to manage populations to ensure the survival of either that animal or others. However, the practice of hunting just as a ‘game’ is deplorable.
To give some context, in Summer 2018, I traveled to South Africa to volunteer with animals and children at Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage. From volunteering there I discovered some of the most beautiful animals on the planet. I saw animals ranging from lions to rhinos, living in their natural habitat. It was such an incredible experience and it was very touching. My time spent volunteering also included teaching children. I taught them about the importance of the environment in their country but more to the point of this blog, I taught them about how awful it is to poach or cruelly hunt these magnificent creatures. Animals within countries like South Africa are hunted as trophies. This is disgraceful. I was supposed to teach these children not to hunt animals simply for game or to gain a 'trophy', at the expense of this animal. I struggled to teach these classes because in the UK, we haven't even banned imports from trophy hunting. As a nation, I believe we can do so much more.
Let us look at a more economic viewpoint. A strong economy is essential for a country. I think that an end to imports into the UK from trophy hunters will benefit under-developed economies such as the ones in African nations. Here is why I believe this. If we allow the importing of these types of trophies to go on we will further endanger these, already, endangered animals. If ‘at risk’ animals slowly become more and more endangered, this will create less tourism for the country which, in return, will have an extremely negative impact on their economy.
I believe that boosting up tourism by doing more to protect these animals will help strengthen under-developed countries. It is noted that over 30 million tourists visit Africa each year. This is an incredible number but if we allow trophy hunting to continue, tourism will decrease, year upon year. A report has suggested that Africa loses £25 million of tourism revenue per year because of hunting and poaching. This, of course, would be better spent developing nations as so much could be done with that money. Africa will continue to lose a large amount of revenue if this practice continues and that is a simple fact.
If you still aren’t convinced by my arguments, let me draw up a situation for you. Let us imagine that hunters caused so much damage towards endangered wildlife that lions, cheetahs, rhinos and elephants were extinct. Would you want to visit an African country as much as before? Would you still want to pay £2,000 to go on a safari? I don’t believe you would. However, to be frank, if we continue down the road of importing from trophy hunters then these amazing animals will become extinct and Africa will no longer be a place of great tourism. This will a devastating blow to that country and we will see the repercussions of this, in the form of international aid as it will need to be increased.
I don’t want to bring social class into this, too much. It is common however among some wealthier people in society to believe hunting endangered animals is a sport. They then want to claim a sort of ‘trophy’ from these animals. This just isn’t acceptable. My message to them, no matter how much money you have, hunting isn’t a proper sport. It is simply cruel and disgusting. No one should be able to import any sort of trophy from animals into the UK, no matter how rich you are.
We co-existent alongside animals which means they deserve to be on this planet and live a peaceful life just as much as humans. If we don't stop this now, I fear many animals will go from endangered to extinct. I really couldn't watch such marvelous animals be killed off like this. Action must be taken, and it must be taken now for I fear these wonderful creatures will be lost forever, consigned to the history books.
(Disclaimer: this article, along with other opinion articles on this page, is an opinion piece which does not mean it is necessarily Conservative Party policy)