BBC’s Charlie Stayt shuts down ‘awkward’ trophy hunting debate

BBC Breakfast: Charlie shuts down trophy hunting debate

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The most recent BBC Breakfast instalment saw a topic which many passionately argue against being debated on air – trophy hunting. While several find the killing of wild animals for sport abhorrent, some defend the practice. Charlie Stayt and Nina Warhurst were joined by two experts on the subject, one from a campaign against trophy hunting and the other a conservation biologist who argued in favour of the controversial “hobby”. As the two clashed, Charlie was forced to step in and calm things down.

A government debate has seen many politicians call for a ban on imports of hunting trophies into the country.

While the BBC Breakfast presenters reported on the debate, they spoke to the two guests who sat on different sides of the argument.

Eduardo Goncalves represented the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, while Professor Amy Dickman from Oxford University spoke as a conversation biologist.

It didn’t take long for the two to clash and throughout the debate, the pair kept questioning each other’s facts and statistics.

“From the view of a conservation biologist who’s spent decades out there in the field dealing with wild animal deaths, the sorts of deaths that we see from poisoning and other forms are so much worse,” Amy remarked.

She added: “The problem is that even if we really dislike the idea of trophy hunting – and I do – the problem is that it maintains more habitat than national parks do and the primary threat to biodiversity is the loss of wild habitat.

“Trophy hunting is not a key threat to any species today.”

Eduardo argued: “I think most people would take the view that Sir David Attenborough has on this.

“He said of trophy hunting that, ‘the idea of people going and getting their kicks out of killing animals is something I find incomprehensible.’

“Certainly that’s the view of most British people, there have been opinion polls that show that.

“And indeed, African conservationists and African people are opposed to trophy hunting.

“There was an opinion poll in South Africa which is the hub of the hunting industry in Africa – seven out 10 people in South Africa want trophy hunting to end.”

Later, Amy fumed: “I have a lot of expertise in lion conservation, some of those things that were picked up on is not to do with trophy hunting.”

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She went on: “I don’t know where he gets that from,” when questioned by Nina about the opinion polls Eduado had referenced.

As Amy began to doubt Eduado’s knowledge, Charlie was forced to step in.

“OK, we’re not going to debate who has more expertise on this,” he cut in.

“Because that’s just awkward for everyone and that’s not for us or anyone to judge.

“One of the realities though is that in a way it looks like we are sanctioning for people to go with their guns from this country to Africa and kill extraordinary animals in their own habitat. That just does not feel comfortable.”

He once again had to shut down the debate as time ran out and the two guests continued to try to make their points.

“OK Eduado, I think we’ll stop now,” Charlie later commented. “I appreciate you both have much more to say and it’s a very tricky subject…”

“We could fill the next hour with you two,” Nina added.

As he moved the show along, Charlie joked: “So… let’s take a bit of a breath – and move on.”

BBC Breakfast airs weekdays from 6am on BBC One.

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