Most people think of winning when they hear the word ‘trophy’. It symbolizes being the best, or at least, trying your best and successfully competing. Now, what about the word, ‘hunting’? Despite many people’s disagreement with the consumption of animal meat, it would be foolish not to realize that hunting is how people in many regions of many different countries obtain their main source of food. So, what about ‘trophy hunting’?
Trophy hunting is “the pursuit and killing of wild animals for sport”, and the ‘goal’ is to be able to take home part of the animal so it can be displayed as an achievement.1 Thousands of wild animals, including giraffes, elephants, black bears, and rhinos are killed every year in this ‘sport competition’. In some countries tours are even offered as a way to help these hunters find their prey. These tours require the hunters to pay top dollar to participate; they operate under the name of conservation, stating that the money they earn will then be used to help protect larger groups of animals. According to the League against Cruel Sports, approximately 5% of trophy hunt revenue goes towards supporting wildlife conservation. 2 Sadly, many governments are so poor that they need the money these hunters provide them with, and even worse, the protection that the Endangered Species Act gives some of these creatures is ignored . For example, the African elephant is endangered, some estimate that within the next fifty years it will be extinct!
Why do People want to Trophy Hunt in the first place?
If you are reading this, like me you are most likely a lover of animals, so it’s hard to understand why somebody would even WANT to hunt endangered creatures. How could that be considered fun? But if you want to understand trophy hunting in its entirety, you have to understand why it takes place. To me, I would NOT consider hunting ANY animal ‘fun’, more like horrific, but ‘fun’ is one of the reasons many participate in this ‘sport’. Hunters in general believe the fun and power, the communing and relationship with nature, and friends are all reasons why they participate. A lot of hunters also enjoy the adrenalin hunting gives them, and the satisfaction of success. 3
The Effect of Trophy Hunting on Wildlife
In recent years, the lion population in Africa has dropped. It is estimated that fewer than 30,000 wild lions are left. Studies have also shown that poorly managed commercial trophy hunting is another huge threat. Among the lions themselves, when a ‘pride male’ is removed, (killed) it disrupts the social balance and can lead to increased rates of infanticide, as the offspring of the deceased pride male are often killed by the new male. 4 African elephants are also being profoundly affected. They are already endangered; some estimate that within the next fifty years they will become extinct, as they continue to be hunted. Aside from all of those horrible effects, we are permanently losing some of the planet’s most amazing and beautiful creatures!
In the News…
Last September, Zambia lifted their ban on hunting, which allows trophy hunting on many of their wildlife. They cite loss of revenue as their reason for this. Excluded from the list of ‘allowed’ creatures are the countries ‘big cats’. The Zambia government stated that they plan to “survey their numbers and propose sustainability measures” prior to the start of hunting. 6
In good news, a former loop hole in a European law that allowed the import of body parts from endangered animals considered to be ‘hunting trophies’ was recently closed! Import permits issued by an EU member-state is now required for the import of ‘hunting trophies’ of six species; it’s a step in a positive direction. The purpose behind this is to guarantee that any imported ‘hunting trophy’ is legal and sustainable. 7
Also, in Australia, the Environment minister and Victorian MP are planning on announcing a ban on lion trophy imports. 8
The ISF Creatures division wants to give an especially loud "THANK YOU!" to ISF"s very own Thiffany Belda for the incredible artwork she did for this campaign! THANK YOU Thiffany!