A planned law to ban the import of hunting trophies to Britain was on Friday passed by the UK parliament, despite criticism from conservationists in South Africa who have accused it of being counterproductive.

The legislation, which aims to help protect endangered animals and has the backing of celebrities including model Kate Moss and football presenter Gary Lineker, was voted through by British lawmakers.

It will now be scrutinised by the upper house of parliament before it can become law.

Trophy hunting -- where hunters pay sometimes thousands of dollars for the right to kill usually big game animals like elephants and lions -- has long been controversial.

Critics say shooting wild animals for fun is cruel, wasteful and pushes endangered species closer to extinction.

Hunters often bring home parts of the animals as trophies, like skulls, skins, tusks or claws. 

But many communities and government officials across southern Africa are against the ban.

"What the UK is doing is imposing their very urban, sanitised thinking on us," Chris Brown, the head of Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE) said.

In a letter to Britain's Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell earlier this month, dozens of conservationists and community leaders from Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Namibia warned the law would have a negative impact. 

"With reduced revenue from trophy hunting, poaching will increase because there will be less funding to pay salaries to the community game guards," the letter read.

"We feel as if this is another way of re-colonising Africa."

Britons make up a small share of trophy hunters in southern Africa.

Most hunters in South Africa come from the United States, according to a 2021 report by animal rights group Humane Society International, with the UK not even appearing in the top 10 of the list.