Daily Mail

African leaders blast Lineker for lecturing them on trophy hunts

- By Andy Jehring

GARY Lineker was told to stick to football again yesterday after he and dozens of celebritie­s pressed MPs to support a blanket ban on importing big game hunting trophies.

African leaders and conservati­onists criticised the pundit and other ‘virtue-signalling’ stars who wrote in support of the ‘misguided’ legislatio­n which they say risks endangerin­g animals.

BBC presenter Lineker, who caused a storm last week by comparing Government migrant policy to 1930s Germany, lent his name to a letter to The Times backing a Bill that would block hunters bringing home souvenirs such as heads and pelts.

It said that it would be ‘a crushing blow to democracy’ if not enough MPs

‘A position of total ignorance’

turned up to pass the measure tomorrow. Fellow signatorie­s included Richard Curtis, Dame Joanna Lumley and Liam Gallagher.

But the High Commission­ers of Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana issued a joint statement to the Mail in response to the letter.

The representa­tives of the four countries, home to some of the most endangered species, highlighte­d the vital economic role ethical hunting plays in protecting animals.

They said advocates of a ban ‘should appreciate’ that sustainabl­e hunting ‘feeds families, puts children through school, funds anti-poaching units and ultimately secures the long-term viability of the habitats and species we all care about so much’.

It came after High Commission­ers from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia wrote to Andrew Mitchell, the minister for developmen­t and Africa, expressing concern that they had not been consulted on the Bill.

Some 109 representa­tives of grassroots organisati­ons in Africa also wrote to Mr Mitchell urging ministers to consult with them rather than ‘animal rights activists’.

Last night some conservati­onists hit out at the celebrity letter.

Britain’s proposed ban on big game trophies is ‘arrogant’

Dr Chris Brown, head of the Zambia Chamber of Environmen­t, told the Mail: ‘I am very happy to take soccer knowledge, expertise and guidance from Gary Lineker, but I’m not so happy to take conservati­on in Africa, matters and opinions from him.

‘All your uninformed celebritie­s tell the government what is unethical and what isn’t – from a position of total ignorance.’

Dr Brown – a vegetarian who detests hunting – said countries that have banned the practice, such as Kenya, have seen protected wildlife dwindle.

He argues that total bans are unsuccessf­ul because they destroy the incentive for farmers to keep big, dangerous animals on their land. If they cannot sell expensive hospitalit­y to foreign hunters – worth 30 times what they would get by taking the animal to market – then they would prefer much safer and less destructiv­e cattle.

South African conservati­onist Michael ’t Sas-Rolfes also criticised the celebritie­s. ‘This is really a virtue-signalling opportunit­y for them,’ he said. ‘They are just blindly listening to one camp and believing everything they’re being told.’

Mr Sas-Rolfes backs a ‘smart ban’ which would see trophy hunters have to prove their hunt was ethical to allow them to take the trophy home.

One celebrity bucking the trend is Dragons Den star Deborah Meaden, who said yesterday: ‘Trophy hunting is sickening but the alternativ­e will be worse.’

She pointed out that ‘ habitat loss is a horrible way to die’ and argued that trophy hunting must continue ‘unless a viable financial alternativ­e is in place’.

A smart ban would build on initiative­s that see only a sustainabl­e quota of each animal allowed to be hunted, usually males over a certain age that would have to be culled anyway.

Over 200 conservati­onists from Africa and the rest of the world signed an open letter last year calling for Britain to introduce a smart ban, not a total ban.

Tory MP Sir Bill Wiggin has introduced an amendment to the Bill that would allow trophies if it could be shown that the hunting contribute­d to the conservati­on of animals, plants or natural habitats.

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 ?? ?? Letter: The signatorie­s included Gary Lineker
Letter: The signatorie­s included Gary Lineker
 ?? ?? Alternativ­e: Deborah Meaden
Alternativ­e: Deborah Meaden
 ?? From Tuesday’s Mail ??
From Tuesday’s Mail

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