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Wildlife campaigner and TV GP Dr Amir Khan speaks out for an end to cruel trophy hunting

Humane Society International UK

4 min read Partner content

Dr Khan and HSI/UK team up for new short documentary on why a UK hunting trophy import ban is crucial, ahead of key political debate

Animal advocate and much-loved TV regular Dr Amir Khan has joined with animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK to front a short film exposing the cruelty of the trophy hunting industry. In the film, Khan explains why the UK’s proposed ban on hunting trophy imports – due to be debated by MPs in Parliament next Friday, 25 November – is a vital step towards protecting threatened and endangered species. Alongside Dr Khan, some of Africa’s most prominent wildlife advocates also speak out in HSI/UK’s film, namely Josphat Ngonyo, executive director of the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, and Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, founder of Advocates4Earth, a Zimbabwe-based environmental NGO.  

Around the world, tens of thousands of animals every year are killed by hunters who pay thousands of pounds purely to kill for their own pleasure, often taking photos alongside the dead bodies of the animals they’ve shot and then cutting off their body parts to bring home as souvenirs. In recent years, UK hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards. A 2021 YouGov poll showed that the overwhelming majority - 82% - of the British public supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies, and the issue is set to be debated in the House of Commons on 25 November during the Second Reading of Henry Smith MP’s Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill.          

Arthur Thomas, public affairs manager at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Dr Khan’s film with HSI/UK debunks the trophy hunting industry’s absurd claim that it means to protect the very animals it delights in killing, and shines a light on the corruption, greed and self-interest that really drive this cruel and archaic practice. Rather than aiding conservation, trophy hunting threatens endangered species; rather than alleviating poverty, it reinforces colonial power imbalances; and rather than protecting habitats, it cherry picks the most valuable species and leaves areas abandoned when they are no longer profitable. With Parliament about to debate this vital Bill, we hope that Dr Khan’s film will help MPs see through the trophy hunting industry’s spin, and ensure that people who kill wild animals for kicks can no longer bring their grotesque souvenirs back to Britain.”     

Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species, including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes. Many of these species are under increasing pressure from human-induced mortalities, including from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.   

Dr Amir Khan said: “Like the majority of the British public, I find the concept of trophy hunting – the killing of animals for fun, especially species which are rare or endangered – disgusting. Seeing images of hunters posing with an animal they have just killed makes my blood boil. We cannot continue to support an industry which profits from the death of rare animals and exploits the natural world for short-term gain. That’s why HSI/UK and I are calling on the UK Government to ban the import of hunting trophies and end its involvement in this outdated practice.”        

Countless scientific studies over the years have evidenced that trophy hunting damages conservation efforts and fails to provide meaningful support to local communities living alongside the targeted animals, debunking claims often made by the industry in attempts to greenwash its unfavourable image.        

Africa Network for Animal Welfare’s executive director, Josphat Ngonyo, is featured in the video, stating: “I personally come from a community that has lived in a conservation area. Communities have come out very strongly everywhere to say no, [trophy hunting] doesn’t help.”  

Speaking about HSI/UK’s campaign to ban hunting trophies from being imported into the UK, Advocates4Earth founder Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is seen in the video saying: “As an environmentalist based in the Global South, I really urge the government not to support trophy hunting.”         

Humane Society International/UK is sharing the video with MPs, and urging people to contact their MP to ask them to attend the debate on 25th and speak in strong support of the ban – hsi.org/TrophyHuntingBill

Watch the video here.

Read our Parliamentary Briefing here.

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