By Nick Eardley, BBC
The government has said it remains committed to banning the import of hunting trophies in its forthcoming Animals Abroad Bill.
Concerns were raised by some Tory MPs that the ban – promised in the party’s 2019 general election manifesto – would be dropped after media reports.
But a government source dismissed the claims.
Other measures in the bill to ban the import and sale of fur and foie gras are likely to be dropped.
Every year, hunters from the UK travel abroad, often to southern Africa, and pay thousands of pounds to legally shoot animals, such as lions and elephants.
With the right paperwork, they can then bring trophies, such as stuffed heads or horns, back to the UK.
The Animals Abroad Bill is one of a number of pieces of legislation planned by the government to protect animal welfare.
It has been mired in controversy in recent weeks after the BBC revealed plans to ban the import of foie gras and fur into the UK were likely to be dropped.
There has also been discontent following reports at the weekend suggesting hunting trophy imports could also be removed from the legislation.
Tory MP Tracey Crouch wrote on Twitter: “I’m deeply concerned by rumours that the ban on the import of hunting trophies has been shelved.
“It is exceptionally cruel [and] 9/10 voters want a ban immediately. [The government] would be daft to go back on its pledge.”
But sources in government said a ban would be imposed before the end of this Parliament. “We are fully committed to delivering one of the toughest bans in the world on the import of hunting trophies from thousands of endangered and threatened species,” one said.
“To say otherwise is complete nonsense.”
The source said the legislation would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allowed.
Announcing the plan for a ban in December, Environment Secretary George Eustice said it would protect thousands of endangered and threatened species, including lions, rhinos, elephants, and polar bears.
He said: “This would be one of the toughest bans in the world, and goes beyond our manifesto commitment, meaning we will be leading the way in protecting endangered animals and helping to strengthen and support long-term conservation.”