Report sparks debate over the benefits of trophy hunting
Conservation groups are spilt over whether allowing killings helps protect wildlife.
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.