Lawmakers and environmentalists are pressing the government to speed up bans on imports of trophies of endangered species, fearing delays in legislation caused by Covid-19 could delay the decision for years.
Activists say backing a ban bill would prevent hundreds of animals from being slaughtered by British poachers.
They fear that although the government is drafting a new import law, which they welcome, it could end up as the ‘world’s first’ ivory law of 2018, which has yet to be implemented after four years, despite being adopted by Parliament. .
Theft allows elephant parts to be bought and sold in the UK, “fueling” the trade.
The government is proposing to ban the import of prizes, but no time has been set for passing the legislation to MPs, saying only that it will happen “as soon as parliamentary time permits”.
Boris Johnson told MPs during the Prime Minister’s Questions two weeks ago that the government would introduce legislation banning the awards.
MPs from the two major parties co-sponsorsing a John Spilar bill have written to the prime minister asking the government to pass it, saving the government from having to find time in a busy parliamentary schedule.
The campaign to ban trophy hunting says that despite the Covid pandemic, British trophy hunters have killed some of the world’s most endangered animals last year, including lions, elephants, hippos, giraffes, leopards, bears and zebras.
They also killed polar bears, rhinos, wolves and wild cats.
Many bounty hunting companies travel in the UK promoting “holidays” by taking travelers abroad to photograph captive-bred lions, elephants, leopards and monkeys.
Data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species shows that, on average, British poachers shoot 200 endangered animals annually.
Conservationists say the practice has contributed to a 68% decline in species numbers over the past 50 years.
Eduardo Gonçalves, founder of the campaign to ban trophy hunting, said: “It has been two years since the ban was pledged in the Queen’s 2019 speech. Since then, British trophy hunters have killed 300 other endangered animals.
The government must act as quickly as possible to stop this terrible trade.
“The government recently passed Rep. Liam Fox’s bill to provide lifelong care for people with Down syndrome in order to make the law work. It should do the same with John Spilar’s bill.
In a 2019 government advisory on the ban, 86% of the 44,000 responses supported a bounty hunting campaign.
MP Sir Roger Gill, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trophy Bans and Chair of Conservative Animal Welfare, said: “The pledge to ban trophy hunting was in our campaign manifesto and all major parties. The ban was promised by the Prime Minister himself in the shipping crate.
“Every week that passes without this ban means that more and more animals are being killed needlessly and often brutally just for fun.”
A billboard will be touring the UK to draw attention to the delay.
“House Speaker Jacob Rees-Mogg has told MPs it is likely that the legislation will be brought forward ‘on time’,” Labor MP John Spilar said. ‘Time is full’ is the government’s language for ‘this year, next year, sometimes, never.’ The public will be outraged. Right from the hesitations and delays.”
The letter to Johnson read: “The government should be commended for not only showing leadership in putting this issue on the political map, but also for ensuring that bans become a reality, potentially saving the lives of a large number of animals.
We call on the government to seize this historic opportunity and show leadership in helping to end this long overdue barbaric trade. “
The government says progress in implementing the Ivory Law has been delayed by a lengthy but ultimately unsuccessful legal challenge, but the ban is expected to go into effect in the spring.
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