Stars back MP’s bid to ban hunting trophies

Showbusiness stars Joanna Lumley and Peter Egan have rowed in behind a bid by a Northern Ireland MP to ban the import of hunting trophies.

Joanna Lumley, of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ fame and a prominent activist in several high-profile campaigns including the Gurkha Justice Campaign, said the ban should have been introduced “long ago”.

Peter Egan, of ‘Downton Abbey’ fame and a high-profile animal rights campaigner, said it is “absolutely right” to ban the practice.

The ban on trophy hunting imports has been proposed by the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

Sammy Wilson, right, with actor Peter Egan

Trophy hunters from the UK are believed to be responsible for the shooting of hundreds of endangered animals every year, including lions, elephants, giraffes and polar bears.

Ms Lumley said: “Sammy Wilson MP is representing the nine in 10 voters who want to see an end to this barbaric, cruel industry. It should have been abolished long ago. What sort of world do we live in where endangered animals can be killed for thrills by British trophy hunters? It is the height of cowardice. Sammy Wilson MP has my full support for this campaign.”

Mr Egan added: “I applaud Sammy Wilson MP’s courageous campaign. The American gun lobby is fighting efforts to ban this evil ‘sport’ because it says hunters’ ‘rights’ should be protected. But what about the innocent, defenceless animals that are killed by British trophy hunters every year just for kicks?

“Sammy Wilson MP is absolutely right to stand up to the industry lobbyists and to speak up for voiceless animals.”

The law currently allows British trophy hunters to bring their ‘trophies’ – including animals’ heads and bodies – back into the country to display in their homes.

A recent report by a cross-party committee of MPs and Lords said that elephants are the most popular trophy animal shot by British hunters. Many British hunters go to Africa to shoot ‘canned’ lions – animals bred in captivity and shot within fenced enclosures. British trophy hunters also shoot seals, otters and wild cats, according to UN figures.

East Antrim MP Mr Wilson said: “The whole idea of going out into the wild and hunting down magnificent wild animals for the sake of man’s vanity is obscene. The argument that trophy hunting supports the local economies of some of the poorest countries in the world is simply untrue and is a cover for illegal poachers.

“It is time for the government to wake up and ban the import of such trophies into the UK.”

Eduardo Goncalves of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting said: “Many people are shocked to learn trophy hunting still goes on.”