It seems unlikely that any of the MPs who have been voting through the Bill will have found time to examine the Bubye story. Scientists who oppose the Bill have found that many MPs’ decision-making appears to have been based on misinformation or complete ignorance of the subject. Dr Dilys Roe, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, says, ‘We looked at all the statements made by MPs for and against the Bill and found that 75 per cent of the statements were incorrect. For a third of those MPs speaking in favour of the Bill, every statement they made was misleading.’ Among the incorrect statements were:
‘British trophy hunters are among the world’s most active killers of endangered species.’
The UK does not even rank in the top 20 for countries importing trophies from endangered species.
‘Kenya, which banned trophy hunting in the 1970s, is today an African conservation success story.’
Kenya’s wildlife numbers have declined by around two-thirds since the ban. It is regarded by many African conservationists as a great failure.
‘The UK is a world leader in nature conservation.’
In truth, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. By contrast, the top countries for large-mammal conservation are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana; all would be affected negatively by the ban.
‘The trophy fee for shooting a lion is around £20,000, but the same lion can instead generate £1.5 million in revenues from photo safaris.’
The scientists could find no evidence for this. If this were true, lions would generate many billions per year. In fact, protected areas with lions generate less than £315 million annually.
‘On average, local communities receive only three per cent of revenue from trophy hunting.’
According to the scientists, such an average has never been calculated. This figure appears to be based on a study conducted in Tanzania in 2008 and is no longer relevant even to that country. In fact, some local communities in key southern African countries receive between 20 per cent and 100 per cent of hunting concession fees.
‘In countries where trophy hunting is now permitted, a blind eye is effectively turned to poaching.’
This is blatantly untrue. In many trophy-hunting concessions the operators fund anti-poaching patrols. Their incentives are clearly to protect their assets, but that is the key point here.
These are but a handful of the inaccurate statements made. It has also previously been claimed that the proposed legislation will protect nearly 7,000 threatened or near-threatened species. But, among the species covered, there are 2,000 corals, 1,500 bird species, more than 300 species of frogs and toads, 96 molluscs, 69 bats, 58 insects and two species of medicinal leeches. Dr Roe remarks rather sarcastically: ‘This will be the toughest act in the world of conservation as no other government is currently tackling the trophy hunting of medicinal leeches.’