Where do you stand on the trophy hunting debate? Join the conversation and give us your opinion...

  • How can we ensure the money raised from trophy hunting goes to conservation managers and local communities?

  • Can we not have the hunting that provides conservation benefits without people posing for selfies with dead animals and taking heads as 'trophies'?

  • I still don't agree with the ethics of trophy hunting, is there no alternative?

  • Can we find a way to make ecotourism more economically viable and more accessible in remote locations?

The issue has recently been a hot topic in the news when a US dentist illegally killed Cecil the lion in July 2015. There was global outrage and death threats flying here there and everywhere on social media. Cecil had been collared and studied by Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) since 2008, and was a well-known character in Zimbabwe. The publics outrage was well founded, Cecil was apparently baited outside of the National Park and he was an iconic lion… I mean imagine if Simba was shot by a hunter?

 

However, Cecil isn’t the first lion to be killed by trophy hunters; a total of 617 lions were hunted in South Africa in 2012 generating $15,270,750. It can seem simple from an outsider’s perspective, shooting an animal and hanging its head in your house seems pretty barbaric and wrong no matter how much money it makes. However, the issue of trophy hunting isn’t all black and white, good vs evil, Republic vs Empire. Here’s a great video from CollegeHumour explaining why:

The main issue with trophy hunting for me is 'canned hunting'. No, not stuffing lions in giant baked bean cans and hunting them down as they try to hop away... but perhaps just as unethical. This is when animals such as lions are raised in captivity for the sole reason of being killed in a trophy hunt and are killed in a confined area so it's easier for a hunter to make a kill. Between 2009 and 2013 around 80% of the trophies from South Africa (the largest exporter of lion trophies across sub-Saharan Africa by a long way) were from lions raised in captivity or ranched. Unfortunately the business is typically and unknowingly fed by tourism, when people pay to pet and play with young lions not knowing the consequences of their actions.

So can we not just ban trophy hunting all together? Would that not solve the problem? Well no, not really. There needs to be an alternative in place. If you're interested, here's a great TED talk by Mikkel Legart on how banning hunting in Botswana actually led to a worse situation for both people and lions - and as a side note, how Europe's demand for beef leads to more human-lion conflict. So put that burger down and save a lion today!

TROPHY HUNTING

No, this isn’t about prowling the streets in search of a supermodel. Trophy hunting is a sport in which people pay money to hunt an animal, and take a part of that animal (usually the head) as a trophy of their hunt. As you can imagine, people have very strong beliefs about whether trophy hunting has conservation benefits or is simply a cruel practice that should be stopped, and the debate has been going on for decades. What do you think?  

 

You don't have to read all these, but here's a list of the pro's and con's if you're interested:

Want to learn more? Check these out!

Interesting Articles, Reports, & Books

Ever heard of canned hunting? Patrick Barkham from The Guardian explores this issue in an amazing article and great short film.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jun/03/canned-hunting-lions-bred-slaughter

Scientific Papers

E. Di Minin et al. (2015) in their paperBanning Trophy Hunting Will Exacerbate Biodiversity Loss suggest a list of 12 things to make trophy hunting more effective for conservation (pg. 102)

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288931539_Banning_Trophy_Hunting_Will_Exacerbate_Biodiversity_Loss

PROS

  1. The land allocated to trophy hunting can help to protect many different species that wouldn't otherwise be protected. If trophy hunting were to be banned, this land would likely be transformed to generate the most money, having negative impacts on wildlife.

  2. Trophy hunting can create conservation incentives in places where ecotourism isn't viable because it's economically unfeasible or too remote. 

  3. Trophy hunting can generate significant revenue and significantly benefit local people and wildlife if done correctly.

  4. People managing hunting try to maximise wildlife populations to make it sustainable, whereas in ecotourism there's less need for large populations as a few individuals of a species are enough to make people happy and maximise profits.

  5. If the money goes to the right people, it can provide incentives for local people to tolerate animals like lions.

  6. Trophy hunting has a smaller footprint than ecotourism; fewer people provide a higher revenue, meaning less flights, and hunters require less infrastructure, meaning habitat degradation is minimal. Additionally, hunters don't mind hunting in less attractive areas meaning more areas can facilitate hunting.

CONS

  1. Trophy hunting encourages 'canned hunting', where animals are raised in captivity to be shot in hunts.

  2. Ethically speaking, shooting an animal and taking it's head as a 'trophy' doesn't sit well with the majority of people.​

  3. The money generated from trophy hunts doesn't always go back to the right people, i.e. the community suffering as a result of living alongside these animals, or the conservationists and rangers trying to protect the people and wildlife.

  4. The number of animals allowed to be shot for trophy hunts aren't always based on what the science says, meaning too many can be killed.

  5. Restrictions on the age of animals killed aren't always followed, meaning animals are killed too young and don't get a chance to reproduce.

  6. Many sub-Saharan countries don't have the management capacity or governance to provide adequate legal controls over many aspects of the hunting industry, meaning suggested protocols can be easily avoided. 

Here's an interesting debate on the subject between Ben Fogle and Piers Morgan. You can't beat a good conservation conversation!

Author: Josh Robertson (18/10/16)

Join the Trophy Hunting Conversation below!

Source: College Humour
Source: ITV - Good Morning Britain
Source: TED
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© 2016 by Josh Robertson & Stefan Hunt