The following is the text of a press release issued by the Rt. Hon. David Jones M.P. on 25 November 2015.
JONES SECURES PLEDGE FROM MINISTER ON LION TROPHY BAN
Clwyd West MP, David Jones, has called on the Government to introduce a ban on the importation of lion trophies from Africa.
Speaking at a debate at Westminster Hall, David Jones drew attention to the rapid decline in lion numbers. In the 1960s, some 200,000 lions roamed the continent of Africa. Recent assessments indicate that that number has now declined to fewer than 15,000.
Urging the Government to impose a ban on the importation of lion trophies, David Jones said:
“The truth is that trophy hunting is a nasty, despicable business that contributes to the depletion of lion numbers. I believe that ideally it should be stopped and that our Government could do much more to help to stop it. I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to call on the British representative on CITES to help to end the promotion of the concept of “sustainable” trophy hunting. That concept has been promoted for more than two decades, but there is nothing to show for it in terms of lion conservation.”
“I would like to mention the loathsome practice of the so-called canned hunting of lions, which is practised mainly in South Africa. Lions are reared from tiny cubs by paying volunteers who are recruited by agencies, some of which are based here in the United Kingdom. The volunteers believe that they are contributing to the conservation of the species.
“As the cubs grow, they are made available to be petted by visitors and even rented out as accessories at wedding ceremonies. As they grow further, they are used for lion-walking safaris, which are priced at about $200 per participant. When they become too large and dangerous, they are placed in enclosures to be visited by the paying public as though in a properly managed zoo. When they attain the right size, they are offered to trophy hunters to be shot in enclosures at a price of up to $50,000.
“Finally in this chain of profitable exploitation, their bones are exported to the far east where they are used in traditional Chinese medicine. That is the most disgraceful and revolting abuse of an important and beautiful creature, and it was extensively revealed in a recent film, ‘Blood Lions’. British trophy hunters participate in that disgusting practice, and I believe that the Government should at least ensure that they are prevented from returning to this country with the spoils of their activities.”
Responding, Rory Stewart MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said:
“For DEFRA, trophy hunting is a serious issue. We have to ensure that when hunting takes place, at the very least it does not involve the kind of activities that my right hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd West mentioned. Therefore, I use this opportunity to state that the Government will ban the importation of trophies into Britain unless we see very significant improvements in what is happening in Africa… As an interim measure, we will look closely at quotas and at international verification.
“The Government have already moved to take Benin and Ethiopia off the list of countries from which we are prepared to import lion trophies, and we will be moving against Zambia and Mozambique. We are working with our European Union and American partners to make it very clear that, unless there is a significant improvement in the performance of the hunting industry and of those countries, this Government will move to ban lion trophies.”
The Minister went on to say that he intended to complete the assessment process in a timeframe of no more than two years.
David Jones commented:
“I am very pleased to have received this commitment from the Government. Trophy hunting is a sordid business that is threatening to consign lions to a life behind fences. The lion is the British national symbol, and I am pleased that the British Government is now intending to take more action to protect it.”