Re­port sparks de­bate over the ben­e­fits of tro­phy hunt­ing

Con­ser­va­tion groups are spilt over whether al­low­ing killings helps pro­tect wildlife.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

Claims that tro­phy-hunt­ing – the killing of wild an­i­mals for sport – ben­e­fits wildlife con­ser­va­tion and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties do not stack up, ac­cord­ing to the Born Free Foun­da­tion.

A new re­port re­leased to mark the fourth an­niver­sary of the death of Ce­cil

the lion – Tro­phy Hunt­ing: Bust­ing the Myths and Ex­pos­ing the

Cru­elty – sets out the huge scale of the in­dus­try.

Close to 300,000 tro­phy items from over 300 En­dan­gered species were ex­ported be­tween 2008 and 2017, it says. The high­est num­ber of tro­phies came from Nile crocodiles (56,000), Amer­i­can black bears (50,000) and African ele­phants (38,000), and South Africa, Canada, Mozam­bique, Namibia and Zim­babwe are listed as the big­gest ex­port­ing coun­tries.

Born Free pol­icy di­rec­tor Mark Jones says that “Tro­phy hunters claim the fees paid to out­fit­ters or gov­ern­ment agen­cies find their way back into pri­vate con­ser­va­tion ef­forts, but when you look at it across a broad scale, the fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion it makes is very small.” Just three per cent of rev­enue from hunt­ing com­pa­nies fil­ters down to lo­cal peo­ple, the re­port claims.

How­ever, Save the Rhino ar­gues tro­phy hunt­ing has played a “key role” in the re­cov­ery of the South­ern white rhino, whose pop­u­la­tion sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased from some 2,000 an­i­mals in 1968 to more than 18,000 to­day. Ac­cord­ing to the IUCN, there is suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to jus­tify tro­phy hunt­ing as a wildlife con­ser­va­tion strat­egy. Species rang­ing from the Mon­go­lian ar­gali to the North Amer­i­can bighorn sheep have ben­e­fited from the prac­tice, it says.

Dilys Roe, chair of the IUCN’s Sus­tain­able Use and Liveli­hoods Spe­cial­ist Group, ques­tions a num­ber of the sta­tis­tics and as­ser­tions in the Born Free re­port. In many coun­tries, hunt­ing rev­enues do fil­ter down, she ar­gues.

Plus, there is no ev­i­dence that tro­phy hunt­ing has any neg­a­tive im­pact on wildlife con­ser­va­tion. “Take a look at the IUCN Red List,” she says. “For none of the species that Born Free and oth­ers are con­cerned about is tro­phy hunt­ing listed as a threat.” James Fair

FIND OUT MORE Read the Born Free re­port at bit.ly/born­ftro­phy and IUCN brief­ing pa­per at bit.ly/iuc­n­tro­phy

Tro­phy hunt­ing in­volves killing an­i­mals for prized body parts, such as their heads. Be­low: Ce­cil the lion hit the head­lines.

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