Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting at the House of Commons

Even as a glamorous podcaster (*cough*) I don’t get to go to all that many receptions at the Mother of all Parliaments, which is a shame as while I’m defintely not comfortable in a city (any city), there is something to be said for being right at the heart of the action (however peripheral your presence may be to the actual moving and shaking that’s going on).

So how did I get to be at a reception for the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting (CBTH) on the 3rd of July? My invite came about because I know it’s founder Eduardo Goncalves (photo below) from our time at the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), when Eduardo was CEO there and I was on the board of trustees. We’ve kept in touch, which I’m really pleased about because Eduardo is not only a force of nature he’s a thoroughly good man as well. Which is a commendable combo…

Quite what reserves of energy Eduardo has been drawing on in the last eighteen months or so, I’m not sure. He stood down from LACS when he became seriously ill (‘stood down’ may not accurately reflect his feelings on that, but that’s a whole other subject) yet somehow he’s pushed CBTH to a point where it has almost as many followers on social media as the far longer-established LACS and he can bring a seriously impressive range of politicians, activists, and ‘celebrities’ (a word I loathe, but as shorthand for ‘people who are well-known to the wider public’ it’ll have to do) to the Commons for a ‘where we’re at right now’ meeting.

What do I mean by seriously impressive?

Well, short speeches slamming the vile trophy hunting industry and demanding the closure of the loopholes that allow the import of bits and pieces of dead animals into the UK were given by Zac Goldsmith MP (if he was a Green Party MP he’d be almost the perfect politician), Sir Ranulph Fiennes (the craggy erudite explorer in the photo above), Sue Hayman (the Shadow Environment Secretary), and Alison Philipps (the editor of the Daily Mirror who’s backed the campaign to the hilt).

Among the good and the great in attendance were activists and campaigners of the calibre of Peter Egan, Marc Abraham (sporting a new fuzzy beardy look), Kevin Pietersen (the charismatic former cricketer who is doing remarkable work fighting rhino poaching in South Africa – the ‘Beast of Man’ podcasts with him and Five Live’s Sarah Brett are absolutely superb), Bill Bailey, Jan Leeming, Kerry Mcarthy MP, Tracey Crouch MP, Annette Crosbie, Vikki Michelle, and a host of representatives of organisations all tackling trophy hunting and animal abuse.

I also spent part of my time catching up with former friends and colleagues from various sectors of the animal rights world. It’s a fairly small pond we’re all paddling around in, but it does contain some of the very best people!

As well as put on a suit and mix with the famous, the plan had been to record the speeches and grab some interviews afterwards. Plans, eh, ‘gang aft agley’ as we all know. The Commons was mysteriously unable to find a lectern to place my recorder on (I tried waving a microphone around from a few feet away but the audio quality was dreadful), and Eduardo himself was rushed off to do live interviews with Sky and Channel Five. Once the reception sort of formally finished (these things tend to taper off rather than just stop) most people were out of the room pretty pronto and onto other things – but I’m delighted to say that Eduardo has offered to meet up again in a few weeks for a face-to-face chat for a podcast which I’m really looking forward to.

In the meantime, the aims of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting couldn’t be much simpler: to end the slaughter and trade of some of the planet’s most magnificent and endangered animals (by some of the planet’s least likeable egocentrics). if that’s not worth supporting I have no idea what is…Check out the aims of CBTH right here

Richard Peirce: Cuddle Me, Kill Me

I’m interviewing author and conservationist Richard Peirce tomorrow, We met at a TeamEarth event in Bristol a few weeks ago, where he hosted a showing of the unforgettable (and rather bleak) 2015 film ‘Blood Lions‘.

Richard, who divides his time between South Africa and Cornwall (here in the UK he is perhaps mostly known for his work conserving sharks with the Shark Trust), recently wrote a sort-of follow up book which absolutely blasts the canned lion industry and is well worth buying: Cuddle Me, Kill Me (which apart from anything else has one heck of title…).

Putting bullets into lions seems a very difficult industry to defeat. Exposes of the canned lion industry, with it’s related ‘petting tourism’ and ‘walking with lions’ offshoots, have been around since Roger Cook’s famous ‘Making a Killing’ report was shown on ITV back in 1997. Even the global release of ‘Blood Lions’ doesn’t seem to have slowed the industry down. There appears to be a long queue of empathy-deficient ‘hunters’ (or more properly ‘gun owners who like to kill animals’) willing to prove their manhood by shooting a lion in a cage. Cynical owners/operators have dug in and greenwash their sordid activities by burying opponents under claims of ‘conservation’ (technically, yes, there are more lions in South Africa now than in previous decades, but only in the sense that opening an intensive chicken factory in a town means there are now more chickens in that town than previously).

It’ll be interesting to find out from Richard what solutions might exist, and what he considers the next moves should be. And what about the intervention in April of Tory peer Michael Ashcroft, a man who appears to be ruthless in business on the one hand but against canned lion hunting on the other (that link, incidentally, leads to Ashcroft’s own website where he writes about himself in the third person – not something I’ve ever felt comfortable about but then again I’m not worth 1.3billion dollars, so maybe there’s something in it)?

Richard was gratifyingly blunt in Bristol, I’m hoping for much more of the same!