Trophy Hunting & Britain: The Case for a Ban 

BY JOHN NASH

A report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Banning Trophy Hunting June 29, 2022:

If you wander into a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Banning Trophy Hunting (APPGBTH), you may be forgiven for thinking you have wandered into the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars…it is a smug, tinfoil-hat group of cranks and zealots who suffer from a bizarre, quasi-religious delusion – convinced they know something about wildlife conservation that hundreds of thousands of properly qualified global scientists, economists, experts, farmers, rangers and field managers don’t. Although an informal group, they still meet in the Westminster Asylum where their idiosyncratic fantasies exude from their overblown prophet, the eco-shyster Eduardo Gonçalves. He, you might recall, is the UK’s foremost deceptive eco-chugger who campaigns ceaselessly to make mucho ££££ from donations to save or ‘rescue’ absolutely no animals whatsoever anywhere in the known physical world.  

You will no doubt be delighted to hear that the APPGBTH have recently voided a huge 279-page fictional document that they ironically call “a report”. Dear Reader, this nasty report is most certainly not from any scientific or ecological brain. It contains precious few facts.

The front cover (shown above) is decorated with photos ripped off legal hunting websites without permission, perfectly demonstrating the level of honesty of the rest of it. The cover also seems to be missing a statutory disclaimer, required by the parliamentary rules that say:

“22. If a report or other publication has been compiled or funded by any external individual or organisation, this should be made clear on the front cover (or equivalent) through wording such as: “This Report was researched by xxx and funded by xxx.”:

and 

“23. All APPG reports and publications should also bear the following disclaimer on the front cover (or equivalent): “This is not an official publication of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in this report are those of the group.”

Apparent omissions aside, it has taken me a while to examine this absurd “report” because it fills any sane reader with narcolepsy rather than enlightenment, owing to the fact that it is the usual fermentation of hate-speech, sentience-folly and animal rights (AR) nonsense, written by some Gobbelian propagandist and served up by a bunch of self-seeking egomaniacs braying loudly about their virtuous but infantile lurve of animals, dahling. It has absolutely nothing to do with actual trophy hunting in the real world and I should warn you that it will hurt your head if you read it, not from its content but from your head hitting the table as you rapidly become comatose.

The stolen front page of their “report” bears a striking similarity to bits of wily Gonçalves’ deceptive private company and money-generator, Ban Trophy Hunting, making the smell more ratty than catty. This is hardly surprising because the “report” has his sticky little avaricious Fagin-dabs all over it. He is blatantly listed as the APPGBTH’s “secretariat”, but I suspect that he is the organ grinder and they are all his monkeys, hopping about eco-whimpering while holding out enamel collecting cups. It is a large 279-page “report” and fiction of this magnitude, plus lots of jelly-head interviews, must have cost a few bob to prepare because the likes of wily Gonçalves don’t come cheap. I do hope they declared its full market value as a gift in kind under rule 32

With false piety obscuring their vision, these chumps are probably unaware that Gonçalves is playing them all like a banjo, leaving me with the suspicion that he is precisely the kind of secretariat that the guidelines warn MP’s about – a private company acting as secretariat in order to use an APPG for its own ends.   

After all, the official-looking APPGBTH registration, complete with Gov’ portcullis and everything, lists Gonçalves’ company address and phone number as the group’s public enquiry point. Worryingly, any unsuspecting member of the public contacting the APPGBTH enquiry point to find out more about MP’s and their hunting trophy ban is funnelled straight into Gonçalves’ donations-harvesting, funnel-web private company – you know, the one that features, in number 50 of its Articles of Incorporation (please click the PDF link), in somewhat less than the transparent spirit of all Parliamentary rules: 

“Except as provided by law or by the directors or an ordinary resolution of the Company, no person is entitled to inspect any of the Company’s accounting or other records or documents merely by virtue of being a member”. 

Transparent as tar. Standards Committee please note. Oh, and while you’re at it, please ask where their website’s statutory front page disclaimer is, required by Rule 24 that states:

“This is not an official website [or feed] of the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It has not been approved by either House or its committees. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed in these webpages are those of the group.” 

I didn’t see one on 29th July 2022.

They are led astray by wily Gonçalves, but they are led in-House by Sir Roger Gale, MP, a man with a vast, extensive and expert knowledge in great depth about trophy hunting, gleaned from a visit he once made to an African donkey sanctuary. Donkey sanctuary would be a more fitting name for the APPGBTH, working so hard to fill wily Gonçalves’ ill-gotten coffers.

The whole “report” is a lengthy mental health risk, so I feel obliged to demonstrate its lack of actualité with just one of their many “expert” opinionistas. Tempting as it is to delight you with Diane Abbott, MP (mathematical genius and leading authority on the vast trophy hunting savannahs of Hackney North in London) I will instead take you to page 245 of their “report”, where you will find self-proclaimed top expert number 46, one Christopher Packham CBE, naturalist and broadcaster – he of the death threats, blazing Landies and amazingly convenient dead wildlife festooned on his front gate infamy, who invites people to have a go at him. Happy to oblige, sunshine. Chris generously offers us the following intellectual diarrhoea and so, if you will forgive me, I have taken the liberty of helpfully pointing out the ever so slight, teeny-weeny factual errors in a selection of his statements, typical of this APPGBTH “report”:

P (for Packham). “I struggle to think how the environmental crisis we are currently in could be any worse. …Given the dramatic collapse in populations of so-called big game species like lions, elephants and giraffes, trophy hunting is even more wrong. It is making the situation much worse”.

No it’s not, Pinocchio. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that modern regulated trophy hunting (the kind you do if you want to hunt legally and import a trophy) has had any bad effect whatsoever on the overall wild populations of these animals, and in some populations, quite the opposite.  

P. “I do not think people’s eyes have been on the ball. We have been gravely concerned about tigers (especially freebie donated ones, eh Chris?), but we seem to have forgotten that the lion population in Africa has collapsed”.

Those of us who can walk and whistle at the same time are very aware that the overall wild-born lion population HAS declined – because of loss of lion habitat to pastoralists, snares, poison, traditional medicine collectors and from conflicts with farmers and villagers, but NOT from trophy hunting, the subject of this “report”.

P. “Frankly, trophy hunting is a waste of life. These are animals that are being killed for pleasure. Not for purpose, but for pleasure. The pleasure is an outdated anachronism which involves males – principally white men….”.

Er, Chris, all trophy hunted animals are purposely raised or conserved for hunting and subsequently eaten or used in products of one sort or another. The entrails are sometimes left for the scavengers, but they have to eat, too. Nothing goes to waste. It is no different to meat hunting, really. Trophy hunting is also high-end tourism. You understand  –  it’s the same with high end eco-tourism too – you know Chris, the kind where you guide parties of rich people all over the world, disturbing animals whilst leaving a bigger carbon footprint than a chimney sweep trampled by an elephant.

P. “As ever, there will be some tricks that they might be able to pull out of their hat which show that, in this or that instance, communities are being supported economically. However, what we know is that these are isolated instances and that the vast majority of the trophy hunting enterprise is not involved in anything that could be accurately called conservation”.

How about one and a half million square kilometres of African savannah supported by trophy hunting, or forty million acres of privately owned hunting reserves in South Africa, or the vast community-owned reserves of Namibia? You have to be very neurodivergent to overlook conservation real estate of this magnitude, dude.

P. “When you look at trophy hunting, what you see is colonialism. This is white people going principally to Africa where black people live and harvesting their “resources”. The wildlife to them is a resource. You have got rich white men travelling around the world to actively denude those natural resources. Frankly, that is no different than what was going on in the 1800s. It is classic 1800s colonialism”.

Hardly. Animal numbers in the southern hunting grounds are going up. That’s not “denude” is it? And the locals now SELL their animals to the hunters. You parasitic eco-chuggers are the colonialists. But don’t believe me – perhaps you should listen to His Excellency President Masisi of Botswana. He knows nearly as much about Africa as you do.

P. “…You can add that to the plethora of problems surrounding trophy hunting, such as the problem of removing keystone predators and the destabilising effect that has not just on their prey but on the entire landscape”.

More chronic neurodivergence. Trophy hunting supports vast tracts of Southern African landscape, preventing informal settlement, subsistence farming, unregulated pastoralism and uncontrolled poaching for bushmeat because people who own or rent hunting grounds don’t like thieves stealing their stock in trade or turning their farms into rural slums. By protecting the habitat, it automatically protects all of the soil and the fauna and flora as well. It means that the keystone species and their prey are conserved along with the landscape. As often, you are talking out of your tradesman’s entrance.  

P. “We do not get big lions, big elephants and big giraffes anymore. This is because trophy hunting is not about animal management”.

Wrong again, Pinocchio. Early this year, two huge bull elephants were taken in Botswana, and who can forget Cecil the huge lion, or Merelize’s giraffe? Records show that trophy and naturally deceased animals are as big as ever. In the real world, all modern regulated hunting, including trophy hunting, is about animal management and the sustainable use of natural resources by local people.

P. “There would be an interesting reaction if, for example, a large group of Africans suddenly turned up armed with rifles in a wealthy village in the New Forest…particularly if they were tooled up and started shooting wildlife that we consider to be precious”.

Nobody “suddenly turns up,” in Africa you fool. It takes months of planning and paperwork, permits, permissions and all sorts of controls, just like hunting in the UK. Oh, yes, “tooled up” people do shoot precious wildlife in the New Forest – you should know – you live there in your large, habitat-destroying house.

P. “…So why should it be acceptable for someone to shoot a lion for fun if they pay an official some money supposedly to help wildlife? It is very much a case of double standards”.

They actually pay the owner of a lion (and the government, and a guide) to hunt a non-endangered lion. Very few are wild lions – about one in a hundred and always on a permit – the rest are farm bred and released to be hunted as ferals. Most of the few hunted wild-born lions are problem lions, old lions (who will shortly starve as they all do) or dispersals from National Parks, hunted before they spread onto farmland. It is very closely controlled by armies of scientists, rangers and animal experts. The money paid is for government licences, permits, the outfitter and his team and, of course the farmer or concession owner who sells the lion, plus skinning and salting the trophy for taxidermy, etc, etc. 

P. “We need to transition to a different way of “using” wildlife. I am talking about a transition to ecotourism here, where people go to photograph animals and not to kill them”

Nice message, obviously no conflict of interest with your well-paid work as an international ecotourism guide, Chris. But don’t believe me – try a real scientist in the field. There are not enough eco-tourists to support the existing National Parks, let alone support more than a million extra square kilometres of hunting grounds. As more parks are declared the eco-footfall will dilute further. This, of course, is all separate to more than a million animals shot for meat in South Africa every year, a few of which are trophy hunted, but still eaten. Thanks to the vast game meat industry, the wildlife numbers there keep going UP, not down, because farmers and ranchers produce ahead of demand. And it is a big industry, producing over 50,000 tons of wild animal game meat annually (FAO). Not kill them? They have to be killed to become meat, Chris.

P. “It is something that might require some thought and investment. The idea that someone who is rich enough can pay to kill a severely endangered species such as a rhino does not fit”.

Not fit in your head, perhaps. South African land owners have put a lot of thought and £10 billion of private investment into the wildlife industries there. And yes, you can hunt a post-breeding old rhino (for a lot of money) in order to pay for guarding the rest. Thanks to the stupid ban on selling rhino horn legally, it’s the only way owners can afford to keep rhinos alive. Without it, rhinos would all be gone. Again, try advice from people who actually breed wildlife and those who run real sanctuaries.

P. “The proposed ban on imports of trophies into Britain is an important step…. Wouldn’t it be great for the UK to be proud to lead something rather than jump on a bandwagon at the last minute?” 

Chris – this moronic campaign to ban trophy imports IS a bandwagon, one that will seriously harm people, animals and habitat in Africa, just so you and your pious glitterati chums can carry on hoodwinking the UK public.

P. “Because of the enormous sums of money involved in trophy hunting, they can afford to pay lobbyists”.

And they can also afford to conserve vast swathes of Africa, pay for game guards, plus feed and employ hundreds of thousands of people.  They do this with their own money, Chris – unlike others who live off the UK public teat, overpaid by BBC licence money or by getting the public to donate their hard-earned cash to build and stock a run-down zoo with free donated tigers. In the face of all the misleading crap the APPGBTH puts out, are you surprised that the hard-working wildlife industries and hunting tourism industry have to lobby politicians? Like you don’t? What the hell is the APPGBTH if it isn’t a parasitic lobbying operation, stoking the fires of Gonçalves’ eco-boiler-room operation in the heart of our Parliament? You know, that deceptive rip-off campaign featured on your tee shirt (above).

P. “I hope we get to a point where people are actively seeking the truth so that it becomes a daily hobby for people and we are not so easily led by liars”.

That’s rich coming from you, Pinocchio. Would you like to invest in my Nigerian Uncle’s rescue sanctuary that gives a forever home to fleeced animal lovers?

P. “There will come a time when people look back at this period in history and think, ‘What on earth were you doing?’ in the way we do now with legal slavery. When you think about it now, about how black people were kidnapped and trafficked from Africa to the West Indies and to the United States and forced to work on plantations, it is so sickening. You cannot even imagine that it ever happened”.

It still does, but what the hell has slavery got to do with modern, regulated trophy hunting? People might equally one day say, ‘What were the neo-colonialist APPGBTH thinking, making personal currency out of a deceptive trophy hunting ban that eventually starved large numbers of remote rural Africans, killed off millions of wild animals and caused a million square kilometres of African habitat to be lost to informal settlement and desertification through over grazing?”

P. “I have spent the whole of my life trying to keep wildlife alive. Right now I am sitting in my garden”.

Lovely. What happened to the wildlife that used to live where your huge property now stands in the New Forest, Chris?  All the creatures that once lived where your timber, bricks, steel, electricity, fuel, TV studios and everything else are now produced? I bet they aren’t enjoying your house and garden right now.   

And so it goes on, Dear Reader. The APPGBTH, Packham, Gonçalves…an edifice of deceit to be publicly exposed and smashed down.

John Nash grew up in West Cornwall and was a £10 pom to Johannesburg in the early 1960’s. He started well in construction project management, mainly high rise buildings but it wasn’t really Africa, so he went bush, prospecting and trading around the murkier bits of the bottom half of the continent. Now retired back in Cornwall among all the other evil old pirates. His interests are still sustainable resources, wildlife management and the utilitarian needs of rural Africa.