The UK will not be banning imports from trophy hunting yet, Michael Gove has told BBC Radio 5 Live.
The Environment Secretary said it was a “delicate political balancing act”.
He said he had been advised by wildlife charities to “be cautious” in following other countries in outlawing imports from the controversial sport.
Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals, including some endangered species, under strict government controls.
Mr Gove was interviewed by former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen as part of a new BBC Radio 5 Live podcast, Beast of Man, which looks into how the South African rhino can be saved from extinction.
Clients, mainly from Europe or the US, often pay thousands of pounds to take part in a hunt, and keep a “trophy” – usually the head or skin, or another body part.
It’s a big business in some African countries.
Critics describe it as a blood sport, but proponents say it helps raise vital money for conservation, especially for endangered species.
Currently, if a trophy hunter wants to bring a body part from their hunt back into the UK, they can do so, with a special permit.
One trophy hunter told the podcast the sport was thrilling and helped conservation: “To shoot an elephant is an awesome thing to do, it is a stunningly, stunningly awesome thing to do, which is why I did it.
“I want to try and preserve those wild places in Africa. But the only way they get preserved is if there’s money. If it doesn’t pay it doesn’t stay. It’s as simple as that.”
But trophy hunting is controversial.
In 2015, the death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park sparked worldwide revulsion and resulted in a number of countries – including Australia, France and the Netherlands – implementing bans on the import of lion trophies.
At the time, the UK government pledged to do the same unless there were improvements to how hunting took place…Continue Reading