‘SICKENING’ trophy hunting exhibitors have been cancelled at an NEC gun show after a protesting petition gained more than 35,000 signatures.
Hunting safari companies – some offering the chance to shoot elephants, giraffes, rhinos, hippos and other endangered species – were set to attend the Great British Shooting Show exhibition in February, as our website reported on Tuesday.
Hours later, the venue announced the controversial exhibitors have been cancelled in response to mounting pressure.
The three-day event will still go ahead, but without stalls relating to game hunting and similar activities.
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting (CBTH) and other protesters had joined forces to campaign.
An NEC spokesperson said: “The NEC continues to be a venue that permits a wide range of content.
“However, we are also a business that is built around its customers and therefore listens to them.
“We fully understand concerns regarding the activities of some British Shooting Show exhibitors and have acted.
“Taking these concerns and the safety of staff and visitors into consideration, we will be removing exhibitors that practice safari hunting from the show in February.”
The decision was celebrated by animal welfare charities and by Green Party councillors in Solihull who were set to write to NEC chief executive Paul Thandi.
Of the show’s exhibitors, 13 were to be hunting and safari companies, some advertising price lists – specifying which animals can be killed and for how much.
Many of the companies’ websites feature images of hunters proudly standing over dead animals – some even celebrating with their children.
Some of the companies offer highly controversial enclosed hunts called ‘canned hunts’ – mostly of lions – while others advertise hunts with hounds.
Several companies offer hunts of the famous ‘big five’ (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo) species while some include packages to kill using crossbows.
Founder of the CBTH Eduardo Goncalves said: “This is a victory for common sense. The credibility of the NEC was at stake.
“If it had allowed these companies to exhibit, the NEC would forever have been tainted by its association with this despicable industry.
“The reaction of people in Solihull showed that this is something that the vast majority of people feel very strongly about.”
Humane Society International UK’s Claire Bass said: “We’re delighted that the NEC will not be giving safari hunting exhibitors floor space at this show.
“Trophy hunting is not sport, nor is it conservation, it’s just cruel and mindless killing for kicks.”
Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes added: “I am very pleased that these trophy hunting companies will no longer be permitted to sell their wares at the NEC. Trophy hunting must be banned outright.
“This is a positive first step in the right direction.”