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UK Trophy-Hunting Bill Fails; Southern African Countries Relieved

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Southern African countries that allow trophy hunting are relieved after a bill seeking to ban the import of legally obtained wildlife trophies from Africa into the United Kingdom was blocked in the House of Lords this week.

The trophy-hunting bill, championed by conservationists, sailed through the House of Commons and appeared set to win approval in Britain’s House of Lords.

However, a group of peers successfully blocked the legislation, which would have banned the importation of wildlife trophies into the U.K.

A U.K.-based conservation biologist, Keith Lindsay, said it is a shame the bill did not succeed.

“It is [a] great injustice that unrelated peers in the British House of Lords can block the passage of legislation that was already approved by an overwhelming majority of elected MPs from all parts of the Commons and all parties,” Lindsay said. 

Peers who opposed the bill argued that politicians failed to listen to experts and ignored the science on trophy hunting.

Lindsay disagreed, saying there are scientists opposed to trophy hunting.

“There are in fact many biologists and conservationists who are concerned about the negative impact of selective hunting on wildlife populations that are already under pressure from poaching and land use conversion,” he said. “There are many communities in parts of Africa, other than a handful in southern Africa, who value their animals alive.”

Five southern African countries — Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe — released a statement Friday thanking the group of peers for blocking the proposed law.

Botswana’s Siyoka Simasiku, who was part of a committee of conservationists from southern African countries that traveled to the U.K. to lobby against the bill, was elated with the outcome.

“We are really happy that it has not gone through just for the reason that it was going to be detrimental to the gains that conservation has done over the years,” Simasiku said.

“We believe in sustainable utilization of biodiversity within our communities,” he said. “Our communities have actually, [from] generation to generation, protected wildlife within their area, which is why we see growth in wildlife numbers.”

Botswana has earned millions of dollars by allowing trophy hunters to shoot and kill a limited number of elephants and other animals each year.

Simasiku said that had the bill won approval in Britain, other Western countries would likely have followed suit.

“This was going to move to other countries that have ties with the U.K. and, at the end of the day, our communities will be at loss,” he said.

Despite the bill’s failure, Britain’s Labor Party is already leading calls to resurrect the legislation.