Gary Lineker, a football pundit, was among dozens of celebrities who wrote a letter backing an upcoming Bill that would block hunters from bringing home souvenirs such as heads and pelts.
However, conservationists and leaders from countries that are home to most of the endangered species in Africa criticized the policy, calling it ‘arrogant’ and ‘misguided.’
They argued that grassroots groups on the continent need the profits from ethical hunting to fund protective projects and are exasperated that they haven’t been consulted.
Many conservationists back a ‘smart ban,’ which would only allow hunters to take trophies back if they can prove they have been ‘ethically’ hunted.
Sir Bill Wiggin, Conservative MP for North Herefordshire, has the backing of some experts for an amendment along these lines.
However, others argue that Britain should keep its nose out of Africa’s business.
Dr Chris Brown, head of the Zambia Chamber of Environment, said that his continent was ‘sick’ of the virtue signaling.
He criticized uninformed celebrities who engage with the government and tell the government what is ethical and what isn’t.
He suggested that Lineker should seek information on conservation from experts in Africa rather than pushing for a blanket ban.
He explained that Namibia and Botswana are the two most highly rated countries in the world in terms of megafauna conservation, while the UK is 123rd in the world.
Dr. Brown pointed out that those countries that have banned hunting have seen protected wildlife dwindle.
Critics argue that trophy hunting bans are unsuccessful because they destroy the incentive for farmers to allow big, dangerous animals on their land.
If they cannot sell expensive hospitality to western hunters, then they would prefer to keep much safer and less destructive cattle.
The massive incentives of trophy hunting mean now that 80 percent of wildlife in Namibia is on farmland, rather than in protected national parks.
Conservation biologist Amy Dickman also urged politicians to consult with experts rather than celebrities.
She said that effective conservation strategies and policies should be informed by the best available evidence, not by what Gary Lineker thinks.
She criticized celebrities who have huge platforms for using that platform to speak authoritatively about things they don’t have expertise in.
Sir Bill’s amendment would allow trophies if it could be shown that the hunting contributed to the conservation of animals, plants or natural habitats.
Dilys Roe of the International Institute for Environment and Development said this ‘would massively improve the Bill.’
She suggested that a ‘smart ban’ is better than a blanket ban, which is too counterintuitive for most people.
The debate about the hunting ban led to a row between Gary Lineker and some MPs and media.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tried to weaponize Lineker during pre-Budget PMQs, accusing Tory MPs of ‘cancelling the star and his free speech.’
However, he was told that his own party had also slated the pundit.
The BBC, where Lineker is a presenter, was also criticized for its handling of the situation.
Culture Minister Julia Lopez said that the Gary Lineker fiasco risks harming public support for the BBC licence fee.
The presenter will return to Match of the Day this weekend despite not apologizing for comparing the Government’s migration crackdown to Nazi Germany.
Backbenchers lined up to blast the corporation for ‘caving-in’ to Lineker by allowing him to return to MOTD.