African leaders hail end of the controversial Trophy Hunting Bill after politicians were accused of failing to listen to conservation experts

The controversial Trophy Hunting Bill has been blocked by the House of Lords after politicians were accused of failing to listen to conservation experts.

Rebel peers had asked for an amendment under which a small number of trophies could be imported if it could be shown that the hunting benefits conservation projects.

They had consulted African experts who claimed that the profits from some sustainable blood sports are needed to pay for such work.

The African nations that are home to the most endangered animals had criticised the ‘arrogant’ legislation – which included a blanket ban on the import of all souvenir pelts and heads – for ignoring their views in favour of virtue-signalling celebrities such as Gary Lineker.

But the Bill passed through the Commons unopposed in March.

A joint statement signed by Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe expressed gratitude to peers for blocking the Trophy Hunting Bill (file Image)

The rebel peers asked the Government to insert the smart ban amendment. Ministers ‘refused to compromise’ and so the rebels talked the Bill down and stopped it. The decision follows sustained coverage of the issue by the Mail.

It means the Bill can only pass if the Government allocates additional Parliamentary time – something the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, or Defra, has failed to commit to. Wildlife experts attacked the Government for the missed opportunity to address the horrors of big game hunting.

Amy Dickman, professor of wildlife conservation at Oxford University, said: ‘It’s shameful that the Government would rather this Bill fails than compromise and accept an amendment which their own advisers supported, as well as over 150 conservation experts.

‘The Government seems to have been heavily influenced by fundamentalist animal rights activists throughout this entire process.’

The High Commissioners of five African nations which are home to most of the endangered animals thanked the rebel peers for listening to their concerns.

A joint statement from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe said: ‘We are grateful to the peers who presented well-researched arguments, based on scientific evidence, in support of our regional position.’

In March, Lineker was told to stick to football after signing a letter to The Times along with other celebrities backing a blanket ban.

He said that it would be ‘a crushing blow to democracy’ if not enough MPs turned up to pass the measure. His fellow signatories included Richard Curtis, Dame Joanna Lumley and Liam Gallagher.

The Trophy Hunting Bill had passed through the Commons unopposed in March (file Image)

But the High Commissioners of Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana argued 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’.

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.

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

Yesterday Biodiversity minister Trudy Harrison of Defra, said she was disappointed the Bill ‘failed to progress’, in the Lords, adding: ‘We will continue working to deliver this important manifesto commitment.’

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