Joanna Lumley calls for ban on bringing trophy hunting souvenirs home

Campaigner discusses bill to ban trophy hunting imports

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Dame Joanna Lumley is urging Parliament to back a ban on trophy hunting imports to stop British hunters ­bringing home souvenirs from ­endangered animals shot abroad.

The actress, 76, has called on Daily Express readers to contact their MP and ask them to vote for Sally’s Law – named after a tiger cub who was ­rescued from trophy hunters in South Africa.

The private members bill by Conservative MP Henry Smith bans the import of body parts of ­endangered species killed overseas.

It has government support and is set to face its final Commons hurdle on March 17.

Dame Joanna said: “Write to your MP imploring them in the most courteous language to turn up for this.

“There are so many things wrong in the world that we can’t do anything about – but we can do something about this.

“If these trophy hunters cannot bring their ghastly gains back into the country this will dwindle them.”

The Absolutely Fabulous actress, known for her animal campaigning, described trophy hunting as “so evil”.

She said: “The thing that most gets my blood on fire is the utter unspeakably cruelty of taking young cubs from their mothers, breeding them up, bottle feeding them, then putting them into a compound and allowing rich people to come over with their guns and kill them.

“So whilst we can’t stop the ­hunting, what we can stop is British people who go on these hunts bringing any of their gory trophies back.

“And part of the thrill, if you can call it that, is apparently boasting about what you’ve killed and ­showing people.”

Dame Joanna dismissed arguments that trophy hunting helps ­conservation as “absolute rubbish”.

And the actress said other countries could ­follow the UK if the ban – which was promised in the 2019 Conservative manifesto – is passed.

She said: “Britain could hold its head up and say we have the world’s toughest ban.

“And that’s something I think a lot of other countries who have partial bans would follow on and take courage from that and maybe put in total bans as well.”

Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, added: “I think if we get this ban through, and I very much hope we do, this could be the beginning of the end for trophy hunting, and I very much hope that it is.”

Hunters from the UK travel abroad to shoot animals such as lions, elephants, giraffes, rhinos and polar bears before bringing back all or part of the body to display.

In the last 40 years British hunters have brought home around 5,000 trophies of endangered animals, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Dame Joanna regularly speaks out on animal welfare issues including ending live animal exports, banning fur and foie gras imports and cramped pig ­birthing crates.

On her love of animals, she said: “I think quite a lot of us are the product of our parents. My parents, but my mother in particular, were very keen on animals. Even small animals, even creatures that are not necessarily attractive, she always loved them. And so as a young child in the Far East I was taught to handle with great respect spiders and snakes and to watch things with awe and respect because animals are not less than us.

“I’ve always thought of animals as terribly important friends.

“To treat them for fun or for sport or for hunting or for food without any care or ­concern about their wellbeing I find completely abhorrent and I’ve felt like this all my life.” Henry Smith, Conservative MP for Crawley, said his bill, which would ban British hunters “bringing home the bodies of defenceless animals”, is about to have its most crucial stage.

He said: “I have had strong support so far from both the Government and cross-party MPs. I hope they will come to the Commons on March 17 to make this ­historic bill law. The story of Sally, a young tiger cub bred for the bullet, says everything about this ­sordid issue. Huge numbers of ­animals are being reared just so ­trophy hunters can shoot them for bragging rights. And a sick souvenir.

“The animals are often killed in enclosures. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.

“How on earth can this be ‘sport’? It shows the depths to which some go to make money from the misery of innocent creatures.”

Mr Smith said legislation was needed to stop people from the UK taking part in a practice most British people say is utterly barbaric.

He added: “Bottle-feeding cats so a trophy hunter can put its head over the fireplace makes me sick.

“Many people remember Walter Palmer, the American dentist who shot Cecil the lion in 2015. At least Cecil lived in the wild. British trophy hunters are killing tame lions.”

Polls show nine out of 10 voters want this ban made law, said Mr Smith. He added: “If there aren’t enough MPs in the Commons on March 17 the bill could die. We must not let that happen.”

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