Some people enjoy killing innocent and helpless animals just for fun and to adorn their walls. They find it attractive to have deer, rhinos, elephants, tigers, lions lined in their rooms. Good thing they do not do the same to their children. Modern trophy hunting involves crossing continents to indulge in mass shooting in enclosures where the animals are confined for the hunters to arrive. Much like it happened during the Holocaust. But proponents of trophy hunting say that it helps in conservation efforts. Going by their arguments, Hitler was the greatest conservationist of them all.
Modern-day trophy hunts are a multi-million dollar industry that has dozens of bored rich whites paying for the fun of spilling some native blood in the jungles of Africa. It doesn’t involve much effort these days as the animals are trapped in enclosures, lured with bait, gunned down at point-blank with automatic rifles, all in a day’s work. The parts are then collected to be displayed with pride. Much like collecting scalps in the Wild West.
The industry has grown to even grow and nurture their trophy hunting animals where wild animals like lions are bred with the sole purpose of trophy hunting by the big-game hunters.
From 2005 to 2014, over 1.26M wildlife trophies alone made their way to the US. That comes to 126,000 beasts being killed each year by Americans alone. The animals that are the favorites for trophy hunting are the African elephants with over 40,000 killed, the leopards which accounted for 8,000 of the kills, and 14,000 African lions.
Trophy Hunting And Conservation Work
While even the WWF tolerates big trophy hunting and says it aids conservation efforts for the money it brings in, the same argument could be applied to control the human population. A big argument is that the money benefits communities, authorities, and landowners, and helps them protect a section of animals and devote their time to conservation.
But evidence suggests that the money seldom reaches the people it is meant to benefit as there are no authorized bodies to monitor the operations. And the contribution of the big game hunters to the development of local communities is minimal.
An analysis by the FAO and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation found that hunting businesses contribute a mere 3% of their earnings in areas where they hunt. That figure is nowhere near what the tourism industry can contribute to the GDP of the country.
According to Humane Society International, the trophy hunting industry makes a mere $132 million which comes to a mere 0.03% of the GDP of the region that was surveyed.
On the other hand, the tourism industry’s contribution was between 2.8% and 5.1% of the total GDP of the region with revenues close to $17 billion going to the 8 countries that were part of the study. The killing fields of Africa do not even generate the money that advocates for the killing industry claim.
Fresh research has even shot down the claim of benefits to conservation through trophy hunting. The millions generated rarely go back to the conservation programs or the local community. There is little evidence to back up wild claims of the benefits that trophy hunting brings to the local community.
Moreover, the animals getting killed are among the most threatened species on earth, and not surplus animals that are to be culled. The indiscriminate killing of lions has decimated the lion population in Zambia by 40% and in Tanzania by 72% as a result of trophy hunting.
Trophy Hunting: Big Money, Big Guns, But Lies
Trophy hunting rarely takes into account the complexity of wildlife. Killing a dominant male of a pride of lions could destroy the entire herd as the cubs are immediately killed by rival male lions. The social hierarchy of the pride gets disrupted, and their survival chances are severely compromised. The hunters always select the biggest cat with the longest mane for their trophy hunting as it makes for the most imposing trophies back home.
The twisted idea that the killing of a few animals, most of them endangered, could benefit the economy of the country and help in conservation efforts was entrenched by the industry promoting trophy hunting. Their arguments that they were doing it for the sake of biodiversity and the survival of the species has found takers even in conservation circles, bribed into silence by the money they bring in with their big guns.
Local communities benefit more from protecting animal populations than wiping them off the face of the earth. Mass killing never aids in conservation efforts, and there is no data to prove that they benefit the local community. It cannot be blindly assumed that some accrual benefits that are shown through targeting a species in one country would work across countries and regions. It is the tour operators and a few select officials who benefit by looking the other way.
More than the issue of ethics, mass killing of endangered animals for trophy hunting is a crime in most countries. Conservation is linked to biodiversity and animal rights. But trophy hunting brings nothing but paid suffering and death. It breaks up herds and the damage is much more than the animals that are killed outright in the hunt.
Conservation and land management should not be linked to the mass killing of endangered species for sport. The focus should instead be on the tourism that such rich and varied wildlife can bring.
Trophy hunting does nothing more than dehumanizing the community that is forced to be a part of it. There is substantial income to be earned from conservation and tourism without being a part of trophy hunting. it is the governments of these nations who can provide support for alternative means of livelihood and provide development models that benefit both the hunted animals and the local communities. By supporting trophy hunting instead, they would be indulging in crime against some of the most endangered species on earth.