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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 203


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (13:06): I rise to speak in support of this motion by the member for La Trobe, and I want to thank the member for bringing this practice of canned hunting to the attention of the House. This is the practice of raising animals, some of which are endangered, in captivity in order for them to be 'hunted' in an enclosed area as trophy kills for wealthy customers.

Because the business is legal and the animals are not wild born, it makes the importation of the trophies, such as pelts and skulls, perfectly legal. There remains a loophole in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species—CITES—that this parliament must address. As the trophies were legally obtained, they are allowed to bypass the trade in endangered species regulations.

The process of breeding animals for hunting is a worldwide reality. These canned hunts can be found in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana for African game species, and in more than 1,000 private hunting lodges across the USA. Some of the animals bred to be hunted at these private reserves in the USA are listed as extinct in the wild, like the scimitar-horned oryx. This raises the question of what constitutes extinction. Can a species be classed as endangered, or indeed extinct, in the wild if it is being successfully bred in captivity? And, if it can be bred in captivity, surely it is incumbent upon us to propagate the species back to the wild, not hunt it in purpose-built reserves.

I feel it is important to make the distinction between hunting and canned hunting, and between hunting as a sport and shooting in order to cull animals that are pests in our environment. In Australia, hunters provide a valuable service for farmers and conservation efforts alike. Introduced species like foxes, rabbits, feral cats and dogs, and wild pigs kill native species, destroy habitat as well as crops, and prey on livestock. Culling programs help to contain the number of kangaroos, now estimated at over 34 million by the Department of the Environment. This estimate only covers the areas where commercial culling occurs—the rest of the country is not monitored, so the actual number is far higher.

Canned hunting involves keeping an animal in an area where it has no chance of escape, but with enough running room for the hunters to enjoy a level of challenge in a so-called 'fair' chase—animals that in many cases, I understand, have been hand raised and have lost their fear of humans. Some even approach these alleged hunters seeking food.

Whilst I was never a supporter, hunting used to be about skill, patience and the ability to overcome the natural obstacles. But this is not hunting that serves any purpose. This is shooting an endangered animal in a controlled environment for so-called fun.

As this practice is carried out beyond our borders and outside of our laws, what can we do to help end this sport and the trade in trophies that flows from it? The obvious answer is to amend the existing convention on international trade in endangered species so that no distinction is made as to the source of the trophy. Wild or canned hunting of an endangered species must be listed as equally unacceptable. Can you imagine the difference to wild populations if the numbers of animals bred for the sport were released? That could be enough to bring some species back from the brink of extinction. Frankly, I call this sport un-Australian. Australians pride themselves on living by the creed of a fair go. Where is the fair go for these animals?

I want to again thank the member for La Trobe for alerting the House to this unacceptable practice. I strongly urge every member of this House to support this motion and I ask the environment minister to put into legislation that an endangered animal is endangered no matter its origin and ban the importation of trophies from all hunts in all circumstances. I commend this motion to the House.