Trophy hunters just 'like ISIS terrorists' says former African president

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The ex-leader compared hunters who kill animals and pose with their conquests with terrorists (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The ex-leader compared hunters who kill animals and pose with their conquests with terrorists (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“Sick” trophy hunters are just like ISIS terrorists who butcher their victims, an African former president who banned the vile sport has told the Mirror.

Botswana’s ex-leader Ian Khama compared marksmen who kill elephants, lions and zebras to head-chopping Islamic extremists.

“I liken them to people who operate like ISIS terrorists because those people take a morbid delight in killing,” said the Sandhurst-educated politician.

“When they stand on TV having decapitated somebody, taking great delight in having killed a fellow human being - which is of course far, far worse - but it’s the just the same kind of mentality because they also pose next to dead animals with their guns, with stupid grins on their faces as if they have done something remarkable in their life.”

Mr Khama used a recent visit to London to throw his weight behind the Mirror-backed Campaign to Ban Trophy hunting imports.

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Trophy hunters just 'like ISIS terrorists' says former African presidentIan Khama was Botswana's President for a decade (AFP via Getty Images)

Conservative MP Henry Smith is leading the parliamentary fight to block hunters from bringing sick souvenirs such as animal skins, severed heads and carcasses back to Britain after shoots abroad.

His Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill passed its second Commons reading in November and is due back in Parliament on January 25.

Mr Khama urged MPs to continue supporting the legislation, which will become law with Government help.

“My message would be to commend them for the very responsible voting that took place recently when the Bill went through,” he said.

“There can be no recreational activity whereby you take delight in slaughtering a defenceless animal - animals which we know are in decline.”

Mr Khama - who was Botswana’s President from 2008 to 2018, having been Deputy President for a decade from 2008 - was born in Chertsey, Surrey.

Trophy hunters just 'like ISIS terrorists' says former African presidentCampaigners want an end to imports of hunting trophies (Getty Images/Johner RF)

He appeared in a 2007 BBC Top Gear special when hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May drove across Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pan in a car each presenter bought in Africa for less than £1,500.

During his 20 years in power, he weaned his country off hunting tours and instead promoted photographic trips to foreign visitors.

Hunting was banned in 2014, but the block was lifted five years later and in 2021 licences were issued to kill 287 elephants.

“When I was in office we had a total ban on hunting and that was across the board - all species - because we were aware of the detrimental effect that it was having on wildlife numbers and also that it was not going to be as good as bringing in revenues and benefits for communities that photographic tourism would achieve,” he said.

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“We imposed that ban for several years and we saw a significant change in animal numbers and the stability of the wildlife population, and also the revenues that were going to the State from tourism.”

Mr Khama said that before he banned it, hunting would take place for about six months of the year.

“You have one or two hunters coming in and occupying a camp and they would stay for a week, maybe up to two weeks,” he said.

“It was quite minimal compared to having a lodge full of 20 to 25 clients and the number of staff you need to look after them, so the employment opportunities were significantly greater (with photographic tours).

“Secondly, photographic tourism went on the whole year - it wasn’t just for half the year.”

Trophy hunters just 'like ISIS terrorists' says former African presidentMP Henry Smith is spearheading a new law through Parliament (Getty Images)

Hunters also wanted to slay the biggest, most impressive animals in a herd or pride - depriving potential tourists of the chance of seeing top examples of species in the wild and stripping the gene pool of its strongest features.

“It’s not only that they are killing the animal, it’s the type of animal they kill because when they go there they only hunt bull elephants and those with the largest tusks … it’s the male lions with the biggest manes that are taken out, and that would disrupt the whole genetic sequence and the structure of the pride,” he said.

“When that animal was alive it was an attraction - now that it’s dead it’s no benefit at all to tourism.”

Blasting hunters who have returned to his country, he added: “It’s like they are in a race - because they know these animals are all going to be extinct one day - to try to be the one to be able to say, ‘Well at least in my lifetime I managed to shoot a few more animals’.

“People like competition to see how many different species they can shoot and put it on their scorecard.

“People like that, quite honestly, are sick.”

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Ben Glaze

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