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More than 100 celebrities and other influential figures have urged Boris Johnson to honour his promise to ban hunters from bringing home trophies of their kills.
Signatories to a letter demanding that the Prime Minister make good on the pledge made three years ago to ‘end this barbaric practice’ include nine knights, four dames, 15 CBEs, ten OBEs and nine MBEs.
Since that vow, in September 2019, hunters have imported more than 600 trophies from endangered animals including lions, elephants, giraffes and hippos. Promises to change the law have featured in four Queen’s Speeches, but no legislation has been passed.
The letter, organised by polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, says British trophy hunters are ‘winning prizes for single-handedly shooting huge numbers of animals’, adding: ‘We need this ban now.’
Those supporting the letter include Dame Judi Dench, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir David Jason, Ricky Gervais, Kate Moss, Sir Michael Caine, Sir Michael Palin and Dame Joanna Lumley and the Prime Minister’s father Stanley Johnson.
‘The killing of animals for entertainment is totally contrary to British values,’ said Dame Judi. ‘There is nothing noble about posing for a grinning selfie next to a defenceless animal.’
The Prime Minister’s father added: ‘It’s a disgraceful activity and needs to be banned now’ and another signatory, Annie Lennox, branded it ‘immoral and barbaric’.
Advocates for trophy hunting claim it is good for wildlife conservation in Africa, especially with the money it brings in. British firms offer expensive package tours offering hunters the chance to shoot Africa’s ‘Big Five’: a lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo.
Calls for a ban first won public support amid global outrage at the killing of Cecil the lion by American dentist Walter Palmer in Zimbabwe in July 2015.
No 10 pledged a ban on imports of hunting trophies after 86 per cent of the 44,000 replies to a government consultation said they supported such a move. Yet while the UK finally banned the trade in ivory last week, the trophy import ban has still to go through Parliament.
A Government spokesman said: ‘There has been no change to our ambitions. The Government is committed to legislation to ban the import of hunting trophies from thousands of species, which will be one of the toughest bans in the world.’