The 2019 Queen’s Speech, which set out the government’s intentions, took place on October 14 of this year. In the speech, the queen relayed Boris Johnson’s plan to bring forward proposals to ban imports of trophy hunting. It is now a year before the date of this promise.
The government has since conducted a consultation that Free some potential “options” for a ban. But he has yet to come up with firm proposals on the ban, or even publish the results of his consultation. In short, the UK is hardly any closer to banning trophy hunting imports than it was a year ago.
“Go for it”
Johnson reiterated his government’s intention to ban the import of trophies in February. Responding to comments from her Conservative colleague Pauline Latham, in which she urged the Prime Minister to act “ decisively ” on the ban, Johnson said:
We want to end the importation into this country of trophies hunted elsewhere.
Most recently, Conservative MP Roger Gale urged the government to “keep going”. Addressing the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting (CBTH) in its webinar at the Conservative Party Conference, Gale said:
Banning trophy hunting, banning the importation of trophies into the UK, can almost be done with the stroke of a pen. It doesn’t require a massive bill to do it, it takes political will, determination and decision. And I see absolutely no reason why this government cannot do this tomorrow.
As The Canary previously reported, however, the debate over trophy hunting is controversial. He has divided the conservation community, with a certain stance in favor of what is called a conservation tool. Others vigorously challenge this notion, arguing that it is deeply damaging to wildlife and offers little to communities that live alongside target species.
Hunting advocacy groups, meanwhile, have succeeded in gaining a foothold in the world’s wildlife watchdogs, further confusing matters. Because it means that they have the ear of the decision-makers within these bodies. There is no doubt that such groups also tried to get the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to hear in the consultation on the ban. One of the main players in the industry is Safari Club International (SCI). he urged hunters, regardless of nationality, to tell the UK government that “further restrictions are not necessary”. Like SCI, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) opposite any action.
The position of these groups contrasts with most of the British public. As Arthur Thomas of Humane Society International explained during the CBTH webinar, the public is “overwhelmingly” in favor of a ban. In polls, 80% of people support such a measure.
Another ban has recently come about. Facebook removed a network of Instagram accounts, pages and accounts due to “inauthentic coordinated behavior” on October 6. Facebook’s behavioral survey was prompted by a Washington post article on the social media activities of a group called Turning Point Action, a subsidiary of the pro-Trump group Turning Point USA. A marketing company called Rally Forge was at the center of the controversy. As the Washington post reported, Facebook has since announced that the company will be “ permanently banned ” from the platform.
This ban, and removal from the network, was due to accounts linked to Rally Forge, posting comments or content that “appeared popular but were in fact paid comment”, known as astroturfing, a report by the detailed Stanford Internet Observatory. Along with Turning Point Action, it appears Rally Forge also counted a company called Inclusive Conservation Group (ICG) as one of its clients, and some of the now-deleted accounts were running trophy hunting propaganda on behalf of ICG.
As the Stanford Internet Observatory noted:
Freelance wildlife conservation writer Jared Kukura posted a series of articles on his site, Wild Things Initiative, documenting what he believed to be suspicious social media activity by the inclusive conservation group.
In his blanket Of ICG’s activity, Kukura noted that “most” of its funding comes from the Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) and the Shikar-Safari Club International Foundation. He also detailed a grant request that ICG made to SCIF for additional funding in 2019. As Kukura pointed out, in a slogan in the grant application, the ICG offered an idea of what its operations involve:
shape, inform, manipulate, mislead, expose, diminish, promote, deceive, constrain, dissuade, mobilize, convince.
Kukura attributed two Facebook pages to ICG including in his articles, which ICG himself had branded as examples of his work in the 2019 grant application, Proud American Hunter and Let Africa Live. Facebook deleted these two pages in its recent enforcement action.
Talk to The Canary, Kukura said he was “happy” that Facebook deleted the accounts and that his “research helped their investigation.” But he said:
I raised these concerns with Facebook in June and received no response. It wasn’t until the Washington Post started investigating the disinformation being spread by Turning Point USA that Facebook really took the initiative to do something about it.
Although Kukura expressed doubts that Facebook’s action would affect the overall behavior of the trophy hunting industry, he said:
this significantly damages the credibility of the trophy hunting industry and I personally do not understand how anyone would be willing to work in good faith with organizations like Safari Club International in light of these recent events.
Indeed, the credibility of the industry has taken a hit. Because it has been shown that it has to finance “inauthentic” information operations to give the impression that it enjoys substantial public support. As polls show, support for trophy hunting among the UK public is actually very limited. But the public need Johnson to keep their promise for an import ban on trophy hunting to take effect.
Featured Image Via the independent / YouTube