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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 222

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (17:45): Canned hunting is the practice of intensely breeding and domesticating lions within confined areas in South Africa, in particular, in order to create easy targets for tourist hunters, and I support the member for La Trobe in condemning this practice. It is barbaric killing for macabre trophies. Hunters from all over the world, but notably from the United States, Germany, Spain, France and the UK, go to South Africa and send home lion body parts, such as the head and skin preserved by taxidermists, to show off their supposed prowess. The animals involved are habituated to human contact, often hand reared and bottle-fed, so are no longer naturally fearful of people. Such animals will indeed approach people expecting to get fed but instead receive a bullet or even an arrow from a hunting bow. This makes it easy for clients to be guaranteed a trophy, and thus the industry is lucrative and popular.

There is a spurious argument made that somehow hunting brings conservation funding into a country through hunting permits. Yet this has been shown to be patently false. The steepest declines in lion populations have been in countries with the highest hunting intensity, and it has been shown that the funds reaching the local community are minuscule. Born Free USA, along with the Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, commissioned economists at large to investigate the facts. That study, published in June 2013, shows that the trophy-hunting industry makes a minimal contribution to national incomes.

It is an absolute scandal that the continental lion population has fallen from an estimate of over 75,000 as recently as 1980 to around 32,000 in 2012, with a further concern that the numbers could now be as low as 25,000 distributed over only 22 per cent of their historical range. This demonstrates that African lions require increased international protection from all threats including over utilisation for commercial or trophy hunting. Between 1999 and 2008 offtake for recreational purposes was unsustainable by any standard in at least 16 of the 20 range states trading in wild source lion parts.

An Australia Institute report has shown that the economic impact of an Australian restriction on the import of African lion trophies would be minimal because trophy hunting plays a negligible role in African economies, lion hunting is a minor part of the trophy-hunting industry and trophy hunting makes a minimal contribution to rural development. The Australian Institute identifies the trophy-hunting industry as a small part of the African tourism industry. By contrast, the overall tourism industry generates over $13 billion in countries with lions and trophy hunting represents only around two per cent of tourism revenues.

The member for Calare asked in the debate: what can we in Australia do? In response, I support the member for La Trobe's proposal that all animals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the CITES appendices I, II and III to which Australia is a signatory, are banned from being imported into Australia. I also concur with him that we should change the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to not only stop imports of canned hunted African lion body parts but also stop all species listed under the CITES Appendix 1, Appendix II and Appendix III from being imported unless specifically approved by the Minister for the Environment.

As the member for La Trobe outlines on his website, video footage of this practice depicts many distressing scenes including one of a lion lying on the ground where, at close range, a not-so-skilled or brave hunter takes several shots to kill the lion. The lion does not try to escape as it does not regard the hunter as a threat, due to past positive contact with humans. This cruel and barbaric activity needs to be stopped and a change in the law, preventing the importation of animal trophies resulting from canned hunts, will help achieve this while also assisting in protecting the future of international wildlife.

The idea of killing animals for sport is frankly barbaric and medieval but, if people really want to do it, then at least we should have a level playing field. The lions have teeth and claws; so give the hunter an appropriately sized knife and fire up the lions a bit before the contest by not feeding them for a couple of days. That would be fairer.