Late last year I attended a briefing on canned hunting with the Member for La Trobe, and was disturbed to learn about the extent of this practice in Africa.
I generally support the hunting of wild animals. In my own electorate of Leichhardt in Far North Queensland, hunting is vital for culling wild pigs that do a huge amount of damage to the natural environment.
In fact every state in this country allows hunting in some capacity – whether it’s limited to feral animals on private property, or performed by recreational or commercial hunters.
But we’re talking about another practice altogether. Canned trophy hunting.
Canned hunting is a brutal practice involving hand-raising the animal in captivity and then, when it becomes large enough, putting it into an enclosure where it can be easily, and ruthlessly, hunted down.
Raising it in captivity lessens the natural fear and flight responses normally prompted when they see people.
It makes the animal an easy target. A guaranteed kill. Is that fair?
It’s not often we quote a thrash metal band in this chamber, but Megadeth’s song Countdown to Extinction highlights the practice perfectly:
“Endangered species, caged in fright
Shot in cold blood, no chance to fight
The stage is set, now pay the price
An ego boost, don’t think twice
Technology, the battle’s unfair
You pull the hammer without a care
Squeeze the trigger that makes you man
Pseudo-safari, the hunt is canned.”
We know how the ‘circle of life’ is meant to work, but this is a raw deal.
To make matters worse, a number of young Australians travel to Africa each year to work in ‘conservation parks’. They pay around $700 per week to nurture orphaned lion cubs back into the wild.
Unbeknownst to these young people, many of these conservation parks are actually breeding grounds for the canned lion industry. This is gross deception.
Australia must condemn the practice of canned lion hunting, and the importation of any animal parts as a result of canned hunting.
Our proposals for new Lion Import Restrictions follow research by The Australian Institute that looked into how it would affect the African economy if our country restricted the import of African lion trophies.
The research found that introducing restrictions would successfully dissuade Australian tourists from participating in canned lion trophy hunting.
The research also found it would have a minimal economic impact on the African countries involved.
Let me put it in perspective: Trophy hunting generates revenue of around $200 million each year – mostly in South Africa.
It represents just 2 per cent of a $13 billion tourism industry across all countries with lions – South Africa, Tanzania, and Namibia.
Furthermore, the tourism industry in these three countries only makes up between 2 per cent and 6 per cent of their GDP.
The fact is, trophy hunting is only a tiny part of the African economy, and any impacts on hunting operators because of these regulations will be offset by the hunting of other species such as buffalo or other plains game.
Our proposed regulations will also help prevent animal welfare issues that are often associated with canned lion hunts.
On a genetic level the practice of breeding, and inbreeding, and crossbreeding is destroying lions as a species.
These canned lion parks selectively mate select animals to create just white lions. Or they cross lions with tigers to make hybrids such as Ligers and Tions.
So I support this Private Member’s Motion by the Member for La Trobe.
Australia must condemn canned hunting, and the importation of any species into this country as a result of a canned hunt.
It is the right decision – not just morally, but for protecting the future of international wildlife.