For people, for wildlife, forever ...Trophy hunting is cruel and inhumane, and it needs to be banned for the sake of the animals. Killing animals for sport is an outdated practice that should have been outlawed long ago. Join us in our effort to make this happen. Some of Britain's most respected figures support our campaign. Please donate today to help us ban trophy hunting once and for all.
"Why it's time to Ban Trophy Hunting"
Eduardo Gonçalves, Founder – Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting
Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE; Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace
In the 19th century, the British Empire brought trophy hunting to Africa. Colonial rulers encouraged this new ‘sport’ as an adventure but also to open up new areas for agriculture. Two hundred years later and the British are once again back in Africa – but this time they’re shooting growing numbers of endangered wildlife.
The renowned 19th-century military engineer Sir William Cornwallis Harris called his hunting expeditions a “noble diversion” and “part of civilisation”. Almost by way of example, he once fired into a herd of 400 elephants just to see how many he could hit. On another occasion he described mowing down herds of wildebeest, zebra, tsessebe and hartebeest thus:
“(They were) pouring down from every quarter … until the landscape absolutely presented a moving mass of game,” he wrote. “I dismounted – firing both barrels of my rifle into the retreating phalanx and leaving the ground behind me strewn with the slain.”
Major Gordon H ‘Andy’ Anderson shot between 350 and 400 elephants during his lifetime. Frederick Grant ‘Deaf’ Banks is said to have killed over 1,000 elephants, as did Walter Dalrymple Maitland ‘Karamojo’ Bell.
Elephants are still the runaway favourite animal killed by British ‘big game’ hunters venturing to Africa. Over 1000 elephant trophies have been brought into Britain in recent years – almost twice as many as their second favourite animal, the humble hippopotamus.
Despite plummeting populations, Britons are still killing the world’s wildlife in huge numbers. Malcolm King, from Gloucestershire, has been bestowed with some 40 different awards from Safari Club International (SCI) – the world’s leading industry association – for his exploits around the globe.
One of them, the coveted Inner Circle Hunting Achievement Award (Diamond class), is presented to hunters who have killed at least 125 animals so big and impressive that they all made it into the record books.
It serves as proof that modern trophy hunting is not merely the preserve of Americans, as is often thought. Indeed, Spain’s Antonio Sanchez-Arino is possibly the world’s number one trophy hunter of all time. By his own admission, ‘Tony’ – now in his 80s – has killed 1,317 elephants, 340 lions, 127 rhinoceroses, 167 leopards, and 2,039 African buffaloes.
In recent years, Safari Club International has handed out awards to no fewer than 500 hunters who have killed all of these great animals, collectively referred to as the ‘African Big Five’. All are now classified as either vulnerable or threatened on IUCN’s Red List of threatened species. Yet the killing sprees are allowed to continue.
What should perhaps alarm us most here in Britain is the extraordinary growth in the number of big game trophies coming back into our country. In the 1980s, the figure was an average of 17 a year. Since 2010, the number has grown to some 300 animals annually.
Worse still, hunters from the UK are shooting some of the most endangered animals on the planet.
CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species aims to prevent or restrict the exploitation of wildlife. Species listed in Appendix I of the treaty are “threatened with extinction which is or may be affected by trade. Trade in specimens of these species must be subject to particularly strict regulation in order not to endanger further their survival,” according to the treaty which adds they “must only be authorized in exceptional circumstances.”
Yet since the beginning of the decade, British trophy hunters have killed – for so-called ‘sport’ – many of the animals listed in CITES’ Appendix I. They include cheetahs, leopards, and elephants shot for tusks in the animals’ highly endangered populations of Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
These animals are listed in Appendix I for a reason. Their situation is perilous.
There are estimated to be fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild. The species occupies just 2% of its historic range.
Scientists believe there were around 700,000 leopards 50 years ago, but today the number is just 50,000. Around 5,000 leopards are killed annually.
British hunters are still killing lions in significant numbers – both in the wild and in South Africa’s appalling big cat factory farms, where thousands of lions are kept in captivity in order to be shot for fun in fenced-in enclosures.
There were up to half a million wild lions in the 1950s. Today some fear there are less than 20,000.
Elephant numbers have also fallen, from approximately 1 million in the 1980s to less than half that number today. One-third of all remaining African elephants live in Botswana, a country the size of France which – to the delight of trophy hunting enthusiasts – has just reopened its borders to them after a 5-year hiatus.
However, it is not just the sheer numbers we should be worrying about. It is a fact that trophy hunters deliberately seek out the strongest and fittest animals in order to enter the record books and receive prizes from groups like Safari Club International.
This artificial selection is creating a reverse evolutionary effect. The gene pool of the African lion has shrunk by 15% in the last century. The average tusk size of the African elephant has declined markedly in the last generation.
We are not only faced with remnant species: we are left with their remnant DNA. They will be less able to adapt and survive in the face of growing challenges such as climate change.
Elephant tusks perform more than decorative duties: they are there to seek out water from dry riverbeds, for instance. With longer, fiercer and more frequent droughts predicted, what future do our great pachyderms face?
Similar effects are said to have been found among polar bears, another animal popular with British hunters. This is despite their almost iconic status as one of the animals most likely to be catastrophically impacted by a warming planet.
Help us abolish trophy hunting
Britain has many reasons to stand up to them. We brought trophy hunting to Africa. We should now help bring it to an end.
Our official support for trophy hunting stands in stark contrast to the world-leading positions we have taken on issues such as ivory trading and illegal wildlife trafficking.
According to UN projections, as many as 1 million animals could go extinct in the coming years. Our leadership on the international stage is needed now more than ever.
We not only need to heal our rift with nature; we have an opportunity to heal the divisions in our own community too. Brexit has left Britain bruised and divided. Yet there is no issue which brings us together more than our love of animals.
This is borne out by a recent poll commissioned by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. No fewer than 86% of people across Great Britain and Northern Ireland believe that all trophy hunting should be banned. Only 8% of people disagree.
This on its own is extraordinary enough. There are few if any policies supported by such an overwhelming majority of people.
More extraordinary still, though, is the degree of consensus across the region, class, and political affiliation. The figures for those who want to ban trophy hunting are virtually identical among ‘Remainers’ and ‘Leavers’, and among supporters of Conservative or Labour, Lib Dem or Brexit Party.
It is surely time to now abolish trophy hunting once and for all. It is a colonial hang-over that is cruel and serves no conservation purpose. We need to consign it to the dustbin of history.
So let’s get on with banning the import of these horrific ‘souvenirs’ into our own country right away.
For the sake of Britain, and – of course – for the sake of our increasingly imperilled natural world.
Letters from 145 International Conservationists and Cross-Party PoliticiansIt is time for the UK government to help bring an end to trophy hunting, starting with urgent action on protected species.
The number of animals killed by trophy hunters is staggering: in total, 1.7m trophies were legally traded worldwide between 2004-14, around 200,000 of them from threatened species. Of these, 2,500 were brought home by British hunters, including hundreds of heads, feet, tails, hides, tusks and horns from some of the most endangered species, including rhinos and elephants.
Elephants were being poached in their tens of thousands each year to cater to the global demand for ivory, yet they were still deemed fair game for trophy hunters.
Lions fared the worst, hit with the biggest increase in trophy hunting among the big five since 2004: around 13,800 lion trophies were traded over the subsequent decade. Lion numbers plunged 43% between 1993 and 2014. Cecil’s death in 2015 prompted the UK government to conduct a study on the impact of trophy hunting, but no further action was taken and lion trophies continued to be imported in the following years.
Giraffe populations have crashed by 40% in the past 30 years. In 2018, two subspecies were listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature list. In the US, hunters brought back trophies from 3,563 giraffes between 2006 and 2015.
When it comes to saving the last of Earth’s megafauna, it is not only a question of conservation but a moral imperative. Animals that once teemed in their millions have been largely wiped out, part of an anthropocentric extinction event that has claimed 60% of the Earth’s fauna in the past 50 years.
Today, the last of these animals continue to be relentlessly killed for their body parts to feed the demand for trinkets, bushmeat and fake medicinal cures. But even at this late hour, it’s not too late to save them and put in place the protections they need to recover and thrive in the wild.
Banning the import of hunting trophies will send a clear message to the international community that there is no place for trophy hunting in this day and age.
We hope the British government will act quickly to implement such a ban and will lead the way in urging other countries to do the same. As with the Ivory Act, the government can expect full and enthusiastic support from the British public for this move.
- Damian Aspinall Chairman, The Aspinall Foundation
- Candice Bergen Actor and conservationist
- Gordon Buchanan Wildlife photographer and conservationist
- Nicky Campbell Broadcaster and journalist
- Giles Clark Director of conservation, Big Cat Sanctuary, and TV presenter
- Jilly Cooper Author
- Dr Louise de Waal Sustainable tourism consultant and creative writer/Green Girls in Africa
- Jane Goodall Founder, the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of peace
- Stanley Johnson Author and co-chairman, Environmentalists for Europe
- Bella Lack Born Free ambassador and member of Ivory Alliance 2024
- Jan Leeming TV presenter
- Matt Lucas Comedian and actor
- Joanna Lumley Actor
- Virginia McKenna Founder, Born Free Foundation
- Lesley Nicol Actor and conservationist
- Edward Norton Filmmaker and UN goodwill ambassador for biodiversity
- Michael Palin Writer, actor and broadcaster
- Dan Richardson Actor and conservationist
- William Shatner Actor
- The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith Bishop of St Albans
- Denise Dresner Action for Elephants UK
- Alexia Abnett Director, Southern African Fight for Rhinos
- Drew Abrahamson Founder, Captured in Africa Foundation
- Jane Alexandra, Louise Ravula Co-founders, Two Million Tusks
- Rosemary Alles Co-founder, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
- Claire Bass Executive director, Humane Society International UK
- Reinhard Behrend Founder, Rettet den Regenwald e.V. (Rainforest Rescue)
- Scott Blais CEO/Co-founder of Global Sanctuary for Elephants
- Karen Botha Chief executive, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
- Rob Brandford Director, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
- Laura Bridgeman Acting director, In Defense of Animals (USA)
- Carol Buckley Founder, Elephant Aid International
- Reute Butler President, Friends of Conservation
- Salisha Chandra Founding member, Kenyans United Against Poaching: KUAPO Trust
- David Cowdrey Head of policy and campaigns, International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Jan Creamer President, Animal Defenders International
- Cormac Cullinan Director, Wild Law Institute (South Africa)
- Arend de Haas Co-founder and director, African Conservation Foundation
- Audrey Delsink Wildlife director, HSI-Africa
- Heli Dungler Founder, Four Paws International
- Lee Durrell Honorary Director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Dave Du Toit Founder, Vervet Monkey Foundation
- Stefania Falcon Founder, Future 4 Wildlife: Africa
- Dr Christian Felix Board member, Future for Elephants e.V.
- Sudarshani Fernando Sentinels Against Wildlife Crime (Sri Lanka)
- Eduardo Gonçalves Founder/President, Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting
- Birgit Hampl Founder, For the Giants (Germany)
- Iris Ho Senior specialist, wildlife programs and policy, Humane Society International
- Dr Lynn Johnson Founder and CEO, Nature Needs More
- Simon Jones Founder and CEO, Helping Rhinos
- Max and Josh Kauderer Founders, Elephant Highway
- Alan Knight CEO, International Animal Rescue
- Laurene K Knowles Founder/President, Elemotion Foundation
- Rob Laidlaw Executive director, Zoocheck Inc
- Professor Phyllis Lee Director of Science, Amboseli Trust for Elephants
- Dr Smaragda Louw Director, Ban Animal Trading, Compassion in Action
- Dr Niall McCann Conservation director, National Park Rescue
- Duncan McNair CEO, Save the Asian Elephants
- Christine Macsween Co-founder, LionAid
- Chris Mercer Founder, Campaign against Canned Hunting
- Marcelle Meredith Executive director, National Council of SPCAs South Africa
- Fiona Miles Country Director, Four Paws South Africa
- Dr Les Mitchell Pax Gaia and ICAS Africa
- Kate Moore Programmes director, Lilongwe Wildlife Trust
- Stephen Munro Managing Director, The Centre for Animal Rehabilitation and Education
- Ingrid E Newkirk Founder, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
- Sue Olsen Founder, Olsen Animal Trust
- Paul Oxton Founder/Director, Wild Heart Wildlife Foundation
- Linda Park, Sarah Dyer Co-founders, Voice4Lions
- Asgar Pathan Executive director, Care for the Wild, Kenya
- Donalea Patman Founding director, For the Love of Wildlife Limited
- Michele Pickover Director, EMS Foundation
- Melanie Reiner Managing director, Animals United e.V.
- Dr Jill Robinson Founder and CEO, Animals Asia Foundation
- Caroline Ruane CEO, Naturewatch Foundation, coordinators of the World Animal Day movement
- Noor Santosian Co-founder and president, Africa Nomads Conservation
- John Sauven Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
- Elizabeth Schrank Founder and director, Elephantopia
- Stephen Sibbald UK country director, World Animal Protection
- Dr Bool Smuts Director and founder, Landmark Foundation
- Patsy Stagman Rhino Conservation Dubai
- John Stephenson CEO, Stop Ivory
- Yvette Taylor Director, Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization
- Janet Thomas Founder and CEO, Animal Aid Abroad (Australia)
- Carl Thornton Founder and director, PitTrack K9 Conservation
- Thomas Töpfer Chairman, Rettet die Elefanten Afrikas e.V.
- Will Travers President, Born Free Foundation
- Helen Turnbull CEO, The Cape Leopard Trust
- Sarah Uhlemann International program director and senior attorney, Center for
- Biological Diversity
- Amy Wilson Co-founder, Animal Law Reform South Africa
- Rory Young Co-founder, Chengeta Wildlife
- Professor David Bilchitz University of Johannesburg; Director, South African Institute
- for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law
- Dr Mahinda Deegalle Reader in the study of religions, philosophies and ethics
- Sujeewa Jasinghe Centre for Eco-cultural Studies (CES, Sri Lanka)
- Andrew Knight Professor of animal welfare and ethics; founding director, Centre for
- Animal Welfare, University of Winchester
- Ian Redmond Independent Wildlife Biologist, Co-Founder of the Elefriends campaign
- (1989) and ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species
- Professor Alice Roberts Biological anthropologist, author and broadcaster
- Dr Adam Rutherford Geneticist, author and broadcaster
- Heidi Allen (Ind), South Cambridgeshire
- Sir David Amess (Con), Southend West
- Hilary Benn (Lab), Leeds Central
- Clive Betts (Lab), Sheffield South East
- Tom Brake (LibDem), Carshalton and Wallington
- Alan Brown (SNP), Kilmarnock and Loudon
- Rosie Cooper (Lab), West Lancashire
- Sir David Crausby (Lab), Bolton North East
- Jim Cunningham (Lab), Coventry South
- Sir Edward Davey (LibDem), Kingston and Surbiton
- Martyn Day (SNP), Linlithgow and East Falkirk
- Emma Dent Coad (Lab), Kensington
- David Drew (Lab Co-op), Stroud
- Tim Farron (LibDem). Westmorland and Lonsdale
- Jim Fitzpatrick (Lab), Poplar and Limehouse
- Yvonne Fovargue (Lab), Makerfield
- Sir Roger Gale (Con), North Thanet
- Zac Goldsmith (Con), Richmond Park and North Kingston
- Helen Hayes (Lab), Dulwich and West Norwood
- Kelvin Hopkins (Ind), Luton North
- Andrea Jenkyns (Con), Morley and Outwood
- Sir Greg Knight (Con), East Yorkshire
- Peter Kyle (Lab), Hove
- Pauline Latham (Con), Mid Derbyshire
- Emma Little Pengelly (DUP), Belfast South
- Caroline Lucas (Green), Brighton, Pavilion
- Ian Lucas (Lab), Wrexham
- Kerry McCarthy (Lab), Bristol East
- Stuart McDonald (SNP), Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East
- Catherine McKinnell (Lab), Newcastle upon Tyne North
- Rachael Maskell (Lab Co-op), York Central
- Carol Monaghan (SNP), Glasgow North West
- Jessica Morden (Lab), Newport East
- Matthew Pennycook (Lab), Greenwich and Woolwich
- Rebecca Pow (Con), Taunton Deane
- Virendra Sharma (Lab), Ealing, Southall
- Tommy Sheppard (SNP), Edinburgh East
- Angela Smith (Ind), Penistone and Stocksbridge
- Alex Sobel (Lab Co-op), Leeds North West
- John Spellar (Lab), Warley
- Wes Streeting (Lab), Ilford North
- Graham Stringer (Lab), Blackley and Broughton
- Giles Watling (Con), Clacton
- Daniel Zeichner (Lab), Cambridge
- Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
- Baroness Young of Old Scone
- Catherine Bearder MEP