EXCLUSIVE: Take Aim Safaris outrage campaigners as defiant hunter lures tourists with boast that magnificent beasts such as lions are “plentiful” and “well rested” during Covid-19 pandemic
14th February 2021
Carl Knight, 47, who runs Take Aim Safaris, makes the claim in his grisly sales pitch to 3,000 potential customers, including fellow Britons.
He urges clients to travel to South Africa, which is in the grip of a mutant Covid crisis, and Zimbabwe.
There they can shoot lions, leopards and elephants and legally bring home trophies of slain animals to display.
On Knight’s sickening price list an elephant trophy costs 14,000 US dollars – £10,000 – plus hunting fees while lion trophies are 20,000 dollars –£14,500.
In his firm’s latest email newsletter, which contains photos of hunters posing proudly with their kills, he also advertises the chance to slaughter rhino, hippo, buffalo and crocodile.
When the Sunday People told Knight we were about to expose his gruesome business, he said: “You can go right ahead, it’s no problem.
“I appreciate the advertising, thank you.
“Please keep it up there. I don’t give a sh**.
“Our hunts are legal and whether you like it or not is of no relevance to me.”
But campaigners branded his business “repulsive” and called for him to be stripped of his British citizenship.
Eduardo Goncalves, founder of the Campaign To Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “The US government says lions could be gone from the wild by 2050.
“Yet Carl Knight is still selling lucrative hunts in these and other endangered animals to make money for himself and put a sick smile on the face of those who enjoy killing animals just for fun.
“He should be stripped of his British citizenship for his role in slaughtering huge numbers of some of the world’s most threatened species.
“He openly boasts about having personally gone on hundreds of big game hunts and he happily poses for photos with the bodies of lions, elephants and leopards he’s shot.”
Eduardo added: “The trophy hunting industry is the world’s sickest so-called ‘sport’.
“It needs to be consigned to the dustbin.”
Damian Aspinall of animal charity The Aspinall Foundation added: “Trophy hunting is truly repulsive. It has to stop.
“We should be doing all we can to help these endangered animals to thrive in the wild. It’s our moral duty.”
And Labour MP Rupa Huq, former co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on shooting and trophy hunting, said: “This is the height of irresponsibility during a pandemic and when a South African variant is being surge-tested. It’s so wrong on so many levels.”
Knight, who was born in Epsom, Surrey, but lives in Johannesburg with his wife and two sons, sent out his email last weekend saying: “Big elephant and trophy buffalo + hippo, croc are plentiful. The areas are well rested, the animal movement is fantastic.
“I have quota available on the big cats: leopard and lion plus elephant bulls at unbeatable prices.”
He also appeared to downplay the risk of Covid-19. It is currently illegal to travel from the UK for leisure. And both South Africa and Zimbabwe are on the Government’s “red-list” of 33 Covid hotspots, meaning returning Brits have to quarantine.
Knight, who set up his lucrative business in 2008, told the Sunday People: “You are not exposing illegal activities, you are attacking honest businesses and harming the livelihood of honest people. You may not like hunting, but that does not make hunters criminals.
“We are honest people that have broken no laws.”
The African elephant population has decreased from 26 million in pre-colonial times to 400,000 today.
Lion numbers have also halved across Africa since 1994, with an estimated 23,000 remaining in the wild.
When asked about numbers going down, Knight claimed: “Not at all. The numbers are prolific. In South Africa we have over 20,000,000 wild animals bred and conserved here. The birth rate per annum is around 3,000,000.”
He added: “The money generated through hunting provides conservation. The locals in safari areas all live on hunting. You’re talking hundreds of thousands of jobs.
“If there was no income provided through hunting there would be no animals. The locals would kill them all in favour of crops or cattle.”
‘Ban it now, no excuses’ – by Lisa Cameron, MP
There are few issues that people in Britain feel as strongly about as trophy hunting. This sick so-called ‘sport’ should have been banned long ago.
These merchants of death have been allowed to continue killing lions, elephants, rhinos – and practically anything else that takes their fancy despite the public outcry.
British hunting firm owner Carl Knight is now offering deals on slaughtering animals for fun during the coronavirus pandemic.
He is a disgrace to this nation of animal lovers.
Voters in Britain are overwhelmingly opposed to trophy hunting.
Thanks to the efforts of cross-party MPs, exposés by this newspaper and the work of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, the Government promised to ban hunters from bringing home gruesome trophies. But when?
The pledge was in the Conservative election manifesto.
It was in the Queen’s Speech, and Boris Johnson promised MPs in the Commons a year ago he would bring it in. We’re still waiting. A public consultation has been and gone. Now special interest groups lobby to get ‘exemptions’ into the law.
Twice I wrote to ministers for a clear timeline and even to the Prime Minister co-signed by cross-party MPs and Peers – yet the Government says Covid slowed the wheels of government.
But the Netherlands banned virtually all trophy imports overnight with the stroke of a minister’s pen.
Why doesn’t our Government do the same?
Carl Knight and other hunting companies who have been operating during the pandemic show there is nothing that will stop these people.
It’s time to ban trophy imports now. No excuses, no exemptions, no delay.
PM vow lacks teeth
Boris Johnson pledged to ban trophy imports to Britain.
“We must end this barbaric practice,” the Prime Minister said in September 2019, but the idea remains under consultation.
Mr Johnson’s fiancée Carrie Symonds is an animal rights activist who has pushed for an end to “sick” trophy hunting.
Last year, on the fifth anniversary of the death of Cecil – the lion shot by US dentist Walter Palmer – nearly 70 cross-party MPs and peers demanded action “without delay”.
They told the PM: “You’ve given a commitment to banning imports. But there have been reports the Government intends only to ban importation from endangered species.”
Such a move would leave lions, cheetahs and elephants at risk.
The cost of killing
Knight is advertising the chance to take home an elephant trophy for $14,700 – around £10,600 – plus hunting fees.
He has also offered lion trophies for $20,000 (£14,500) and buffalo and leopard for $5,000 each (£3,612).
Hunting fees are extra and can cost up to $1,800 a day (£1,300) for a 21-day package.
Prices also exclude flights and taxidermy.