Trophy Hunting Imports — [Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:16 pm on 2nd October 2019.

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Photo of Lisa Cameron Lisa Cameron Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Mental Health) 3:16 pm, 2nd October 2019

As the hon. Gentleman may be aware, DFID has a presence in my constituency, and I am so very proud of the work that it does to eradicate poverty the world over. I believe that conservation is commensurate with the sustainable development goals, because it is not only about animal welfare; it is about helping the communities located where those endangered species are. It is about making sure that those communities have another source of income; that people and animals can cohabit. We must do everything possible on both issues, and I will be interested to hear from the Minister how the two can be married together. We must ensure that aid goes to the poorest and that no one is left behind. I have a particular passion for helping disabled children into school in developing countries, but I do not see a contradiction in helping the poorest communities and working on conservation and, in the main, I do not believe that colleagues across the House would either.

In November 2018 the Minister lodged early-day motion 1829, which was signed by 166 MPs cross-party, including myself. It asked the Government to commit to halting imports of hunting trophies as a matter of urgency. I am very pleased that the Minister is in his place today, and not just because of that issue. He also did a lot of cross-party work with the all-party parliamentary dog advisory welfare group on Lucy’s law, which will now become law not just in England, but in Wales and Scotland. We are extremely pleased about that.

As has been said, 86% of the public support a ban on trophy hunting. I pay tribute to the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, Born Free and Stop Ivory for placing these issues at the forefront of our minds, so that we can see what is happening. I had a look at the statistics. Although progress is being made on elephant populations and larger cat populations—not enough, but some progress—people are now reverting to hunting bears, cranes, antelopes, rhinoceroses and, would you believe it, crocodiles. Perhaps they have watched too many “Crocodile Dundee” films. Other species are up 29.2% as well; I am not sure what species those are, and it would be interesting to find out more, particularly whether any of those species are at risk.

Many trophy hunters use the rationale that they kill the old, the weak or the sick, and that they are therefore helping conservation. That is rarely proven by the egotistical photographs that are put up online, with the hunter standing next to the biggest, the rarest and the largest animals with the biggest horns. It is much more about ego than any effort towards conservation.

A current loophole allows hunters from the UK to import trophies of animals, many so rare that they have been declared extinct in the wild. For example, puffins are often hunted and the trophies brought to the UK, despite the UK Government’s efforts to save the species. Online websites are easily found offering these grisly puffin hunters trips costing around £3,000 to Iceland, where they have the chance to kill a bag of puffins and can boast of shooting up to 100 at a time. The species is classified as endangered in the 2018 “State of the World’s Birds” report, but is not listed for protection by CITES, the body that regulates the international animal trade. British people are bringing home puffin carcases in their hundreds and the puffin is at risk of becoming extinct, with uncontrolled hunting a leading cause.

I was proud to lead for the Scottish National party on the Bill that became the Ivory Act 2018. As a party, we welcome that historic legislation and the UK Government’s progress on tackling the illegal ivory trade and trophy hunting. Organised crime is often behind the individuals involved in that trade, as it offers big money, so we need to tackle it at the root. I was pleased—actually, emotionally quite overcome—to visit Sheldrick Wildlife Trust the day before the hon. Member for Mid Derbyshire, I believe, with the International Development Committee. We were able to spend time with orphaned elephants there. Now, I have quite short legs, but the little elephants only came up to my waist, which shows how small they were. Some, only a few days or a few weeks old, were being bottle fed, because the hunters were after their parents and left the little baby elephants behind, unable to survive on their own. This fantastic project goes out and saves them from otherwise certain death in the wild, but still, they will not have had the life they should have had. They should live with their herd, not be raised in those circumstances.