The announcement of a trade ban on the importation of African lion hunting trophies is missing the target and will cause collateral damage to conservation programs and quality of life in African rural communities.
The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA National) is disappointed that Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made a decision that appears more to help his colleague Jason Wood MP appeal to left-leaning voters in the Dandenong Ranges, instead of supporting lion conservation supported by science and evidence-based research.
Managed and regulated game hunting in Africa is already recognised and supported by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“Regulated game hunting in Africa and unethical ‘canned hunting’ are two different things; one common and one not so common,” said SSAA National Wildlife and Pest Management Project Officer Matt Godson.
“Unfortunately, Minister Hunt’s new rules will have no effect on the ground in South Africa to prevent unethical canned hunting because their current regulations prevent these enterprises gaining the required permits to export trophies to Australia.”
Mr Godson said these unethical enterprises normally only provide the opportunity for ‘photo-trophies’ and this will continue unless policy is developed to target these operations.
“SSAA National has volunteered to help discuss and develop policy that would target these operations, but it seems this issue is more about politics and emotion and not about evidence-based policy creation,” he said.
“Unethical canned hunting, which is not as common in Africa as animal rights activists like people to believe, can only be tackled on the ground by the home country.”
Mr Godson said these new rules will affect all game hunting enterprises in Africa, and evidence suggests that if policy is created which causes wildlife to lose its economic value to local African communities, it will open the door for poachers and exploitation that will devastate wildlife populations.
“Australia has a poor record for animal extinctions and it is worrying that we are developing policies that could have a negative impact on successful conservation programs that have brought back many African species from the brink of extinction.”