Former President Lt Gen Ian Khama is using his state publicized trip to the UK to lobby the British government against Botswana’s elephant trophy hunting.
Government last week set aside its long-standing media blackout on the former president and announced his trip to the UK.
Acting Permanent Secretary for Government Communications John Dipowe issued a press statement that, “The office of the President wishes to inform members of the Public that His Excellency Lt Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the former President of the Republic of Botswana will undertake a private visit to London, the United Kingdom, from 26 June to 2nd July 2022,” the statement reads.
Khama’s trip to London coincided with the launch of a heavyweight report by British cross-party MPs and peers with testimony from experts in support of a trophy ban.
Shortly before the launch of the report, Khama gave an interview to the UK Independent newspaper in which he pleaded with Boris Johnson’s government to outlaw imports of body parts from hunted animals, after an outcry when ministers postponed a ban. Khama claimed that every day without a ban on hunting trophy imports took elephants nearer to extinction.
“I hope very much that this time they will stick to it because every day that we lose, we are losing many animals out there in different parts of the world,” he said.
“So it’s very important that this is addressed sooner rather than later because the rate of decline of wild species means we’re going to see more and more of these animals becoming endangered and going extinct.”
Khama claimed that, “the rate at which animals are being slaughtered, we’re heading for a situation when there will be very few left and they’ll be seen only in zoos.”
According to the British all-party parliamentary group on trophy-hunting, the report is the most comprehensive inquiry into the practice ever produced in the world.
Published just before the seventh anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion by Walter Palmer, the 278-page document includes “confessions” from British trophy-hunters about shooting monkeys and cats out of trees for “fun”, and carries harrowing descriptions of injuries inflicted on “big game” animals by British hunters.
The report, the result of a six-month parliamentary inquiry, carries some previously-unseen photos of British trophy-hunters with lions, elephants, giraffes, hippos and other animals.
The new report also identifies British firms that offer hunting holidays to shoot endangered animals and reproduces their price lists.
After many years of being lobbied by conservationists, ministers last year drew up the Animals Abroad Bill, which included a ban on imports of trophies, such as heads, tails, ivory and even entire carcases.
But the bill was dropped from this year’s Queen’s speech. Conservative MP Henry Smith has introduced a private member’s bill with a ban, which has government support so stands a good chance of becoming law when it goes to parliament in November.
Khama was quoted in the Independent newspaper saying, “it was very disappointing when the UK government postponed its bill containing a ban.
The Animals Abroad Bill, which would also have outlawed fur and foie gras imports, was reported to have been vetoed by cabinet members claiming it was not a serious issue.
Environment secretary George Eustice assured the lobbyists that the government would do everything it could to ensure the private member’s bill passed, and Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner also pledged her party’s support, according to Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.
A British government spokesperson was quoted saying: “We are committed to banning the import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species.
“This ban will be among the strongest in the world, leading the way in protecting endangered animals – and we welcome the private member’s bill that will deliver this crucial step forward.”