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Trophy hunting ban is possibly racist, says MP

Incendiary words are flung around the House of Commons for the second reading of a bill that seeks to ban all forms of trophy hunting

Despite ferocious criticism from both scientists and African community groups, a bill to ban imports of hunting trophies has moved forward in Parliament.

The second reading of the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which was brought forward  by Conservative MP Henry Smith, drew a strong turnout from members of the all-party parliamentary group on banning trophy hunting. Among those speaking in favour of the ban was Sir Roger Gale, who claimed: “We are talking about gratification of the most revolting kind, which I would compare with paedophilia.” 

Disgraced former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier, who was thrown out of the SNP over breaches of Covid rules but sits as an independent, cited 10 prominent individuals who supported the Bill, of whom two were scientists and eight were actors or media personalities. 

Conservative MP Sir Bill Wiggin was the only member to put forward any concerted opposition to  the bill. The North Herefordshire MP said: “We need to appreciate what it is like to live with large and dangerous or endangered species. We cannot expect people in rural Africa to have the same views on this subject as the voter in, say, Crawley.”

He went on to call the bill “fundamentally wrong, post-colonial and possibly racist”. (Read trophy hunting – why it’s a force for good when well-managed.)

In response, the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting used its social media feeds to say that Sir Bill “is speaking IN FAVOUR of trophy hunting — and says anyone who disagrees with him is ‘racist’!” The group published his contact details. 

Charles Jonga, vice-chairman of the Community Leaders network of Southern Africa and director of CAMPFIRE — Community Areas Management Programme For Indigenous Resources — slammed those supporting the bill, saying: “I have no doubt Mr Smith and the celebrities who support his bill are sincere. But I cannot believe that any of them knows the first thing about real conservation. Perhaps they think African people don’t know what is best for their own continent and its wildlife.”

Hunting areas in Sub-Saharan Africa cover more than 344 million acres of wildlife habitat. This is considerably larger than all of southern Africa’s national parks, 6.5 times the size of the combined area of all the US national parks and more than twice the size of all of the US national wildlife refuges.