Following decades of the sick trophy hunting bloodsport, animal rights groups can now rejoice at the first sign of a breakthrough. New reports claim that the Conservative United Kingdom government wants to declare a ban on trophy hunting imports. After this ban, no individual will be allowed to sneak in the spoils amassed from the slaughter.
The ban not only brings relief to the animal rights groups but also the masses at large who have found this so-called art to be cruel and sickening.
The Horrors of Trophy Hunting
Since the beginning of the trophy hunting practice pioneered by US dentist Walter Palmer, UK individuals have made countless trips abroad pursuing the same sport. The most popular destinations are South Africa, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Species of endangered animals, including elephants, lions, rhinos, and leopards, are gunned down by selfish individuals eager to show off their hunting prowess and the spoils earned from their ventures.
Statistics show that close to 20,000 pieces from gunned animals ended up in the UK in the last decade, 15% of which came from endangered species. It’s an alarming 10-fold increase from the previous years. The trophies include heads, tusks, horns, feet, and tails. Among the animals that fell victim to the marauding hunters are 80 lions, 48 of which had been “captive-bred.” Captive breeding entails the practice of canned hunting, namely animals raised in cages so that hunters shoot them dead.
Generally, 1.7 million trophies earned form hunting cross different borders every year, the majority of which end up in the US.
UK’s animal welfare minister, Zac Goldsmith, said that the UK government would conduct an urgent consultation to ban the import of “trophies.” Time and again, the British politician has reiterated his displeasure over the sickening practice. Other individuals backing the fight against trophy hunting include the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
The British PM announced that he would create a £220 million fund to help tackle the situation, focusing on the most endangered species like the white rhino and the Sumatran tiger.
In Carrie Symond’s words, a trophy should be a prize or award upon the achievement of something of merit through skill and talent. Trophy hunting, however, is the opposite, since the practice stems from a cowardly and cruel act upon defenseless animals.
Trophy hunting has been on the rise, specifically canned hunting. Lions numbering between 8,000 and 12,000 are held in about 300 captive breeding centers in South Africa, awaiting trigger-happy tourists.
Presently, fewer than 20,000 lions survive in the wild throughout the world, yet hunters have taken 10,000 trophies from lions over the past decade. A recent United Nations report indicates that the world is now on the brink of losing a million endangered species in the next few years.
On the accused camp, pro-hunting groups defending the act claim that the revenue earned from trophy hunting goes towards the conservation of wildlife. Nonetheless, a closer look into the matter reveals that this bloody practice is directly responsible for the declining numbers of lions, elephants, and other endangered species.
International regulations put strict bans on the trading, importing, and exporting of parts obtained from endangered animals, yet the spoils from trophy hunting seem to have been earning an exemption.
Mr. Goldsmith has called for the sealing of this gaping loophole, also striving to end canned hunting.
Images of trophy hunters posing for photos with their “hard-earned” quarry have done the rounds on media, sparking the rage of animal conservation groups and supporters. One was when American dentist Walter Palmer killed Cecil, the lion, going viral. Then, public outrage rose over pictures of Melissa Bannerman rejoicing over a hunted giraffe.
In his comments, Mr. Goldsmith said that he’d feel his stomach turn upon seeing such photos. He insisted he could not understand why anybody would pay money to shoot animals, especially in the glaring reality of an extinction crisis.
Other measures that would come along with the ban, as said during the Conservative Party conference, include microchipping all cats in the UK, just like the dogs. There will also be a ban on keeping primates as pets, as well as exporting live animals on long journeys for slaughter. These new measures aim to protect animals in homes, in agriculture and the wild.
Mr. Goldsmith says that while the ban may not save the world or all of the endangered species, it is still important to pursue all options. He also expressed his optimism in that animal rights supporters would widely welcome the ban. The horrific experiences had warned people of what animals have gone through in the hands of ambitious and selfish hunters.
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