A Letter to the Editor – Daily Telegraph Trophy Import Article
03 December 2019

Following an article that was released in the Daily Telegraph on 23 November 2019, the contents of which included a number of misguided views and opinions from the author (Lord Ashcroft), the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation have reached out to the Daily Telegraph with the following “Letter to the Editor.”

In the ongoing discussions that surround hunting, it is essential that people from both sides of the debate use facts and scientific evidence as the foundation of every conservation on the topic. When human livelihoods and rights, wildlife and habitats are at stake, an article such as this one can have far reaching consequences when such broadly inaccurate statements are used.

The letter is currently pending publication, and should hopefully be released on the Daily Telegraph website in the Opinion/Letters section within the coming weeks.

The “Letter to the Editor” can be seen below:

“Lord Ashcroft’s article in the Daily Telegraph “Britain must ban trophy imports and help end the horrors of lion hunting” is a baseless and cheap attempt to try and capture voters in the upcoming election. What other possible reason could there be for mentioning Boris Johnson and his girlfriend in an article on wildlife policy? The article is clearly a move to garner support for the Conservative party by appealing to Britain citizens who have a love for animals, but in doing so he has provided a misguided and inaccurate assessment of an activity that has, in numerous instances, proven its conservation and livelihoods benefit.

While trophy hunting may be a controversial topic, it is still recognized as an important form of sustainable wildlife management by many international scientists and organizations, as well as by many national governments in Africa and elsewhere. To publish an “opinion” piece with such little regard for the facts is dangerous and delivers a broad disservice to wildlife conservation and to the millions of people who depend on hunting for their survival, as well as those, in the case of trophy hunting, whose livelihoods are directly dependent on it.

Several points made in the article demonstrate a conspicuous lack of knowledge on this topic, or an attempt at deliberate obfuscation. Canned lion hunts (which are illegal in South Africa) and the hunting of captive-bred lion, should be unequivocally regarded as unacceptable and is in no way illustrative of sustainable hunting. In fact, the term captive bred lion shooting would be the appropriate term, as this industry has nothing to do with legitimate hunting activity.

Beyond such inaccuracies, it is also clear from this article that Lord Ashcroft knows little about the relationship between sustainable hunting, tourism and conservation, and the realities of photo tourism as an effective means to support wildlife and human livelihoods in many circumstances.
Lord Ashcroft has, however, managed to upset the traditional Conservative electorate, which includes the land owners and hunters of the United Kingdom. The desired net gain in votes for the Conservative party might well turn out to be a net loss.”

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