Should Trophy Hunting be Illegal?

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There is a large amount of negative stigma surrounding those who trophy hunt. Trophy hunting is the act of tracking and killing big game animals where parts of the body are stuffed and put on display. The most famous controversy surrounding trophy hunting is Cecil the lion. Cecil lived in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and was the subject Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. He was well loved by the people of Zimbabwe and his scientists, eventually, he became famous worldwide because of his untimely death. In July 2014, an American dentist Walter Palmer, paid a professional hunter guide named Theo Bronkhorst $50,000 for him to help track and kill a lion.

The two lured Cecil out of the National Park with an elephant carcass and shot him with a bow and arrow in an attempt to be the first person to kill a lion of that size with an arrow. Cecil was accustomed to the scent of humans, so this didn’t deter him from pursuing the meat. Cecil was hit and left to die which, according to his collar tracker, took an agonizing ten hours for him to pass. Palmer later claimed he did not know Cecil’s identity and that he believed the hunt was legal. Cecil is just one case in hundreds of incidents that occur out of ignorance for the laws surrounding trophy hunting. Trophy hunting should be illegal because of the monetary implications, ecological impact, and breeding exploitation.

Trophy hunting inherently puts a monetary value on the animals’ bodies, thus creating a market for poachers, traffickers, and collectors. In the areas where trophy hunting is permitted, poachers set up snares, or poison cattle in order to kill ‘expensive’ game. Those critically under attack, coined “the big five” by hunters are rhinos, lions, elephants, buffalos, and leopards. These animals are the most sought after for their ivory tusks, horns, pelts, and bones. In many Asian countries, people believe parts of the animals bodies can be used medicinally or enhance spirituality. Lion bones are crushed and used in medicines or processed into expensive wines, the rhino horn is thought to cure cancer, and elephant ivory is carved into religious figurines.

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, the lion has lost 43% of its population in the last 21 years, the main causes of this loss are poachers, hunters, and habitat loss. From an article out of National Geographic written by Michael Paterniti, a hunter on the opposing side, Natasha Illum-Berg, credits a large amount of anti-poaching efforts to the hunters in Africa. Illum- Bergus argues, “without trophy hunting there would be no anti-poaching there, no management.” Biologist Craig Packer, “sees the conservation of African wildlife in practical terms: If hunters were shooting lions “for a million dollars and returning a million per lion directly into management, they would be on solid ground. But lions are shot for tens of thousands of dollars, and very little of that money goes back to conservation” (Paterniti).

Testimonies from villagers part of CAMPFIRE, a program that allows them to sell access to their wildlife for profit, claim that the money meant for the communities often “doesn’t reach them or get spent on local improvements” by the hand of corrupt government leaders and politicians. These villagers who live surrounding the conservations also witness first hand the destruction and habitat loss of the wild animals’ land. Animals are forced to stray out of the parks in search of food and sometimes end up killing villagers’ livestock.

Allowing trophy hunting does not only affect the targeted species, it destroys entire ecosystems, food chains, and biodiversity on the planet. ‘We are permitting the trophy hunting of the strongest, healthiest, and most powerful animals -those that should be leading their families and passing their genes onto future generations are being eradicated” (Jane Goodall). The animals being killed by trophy hunters should be leading their packs or caring for the infants, not the targets of a sick hobby. Allowing people to pay their way into killing critical species paves the way for those animals to become extinct.

Many of the beloved wild animals living in Africa are now endangered or considered vulnerable, and the population loss continues to grow despite hunters’ claims of preserving the land. Species who are already endangered because of hunting include the Bengal tiger, black rhino, Asian elephant, Eastern Lowland Gorilla, pangolin, snow leopard, and the list goes on. African lions are now considered a vulnerable species with the population rapidly decreasing. It’s estimated at the current rate that lions could go extinct by 2050 (African Wildlife Foundation). Not only are adult lions being killed on safaris, but adolescents are being shot as trophies because hunters would rather go home with something opposed to empty-handed because of the insane costs:

In Tanzania, foreign hunters need to book a 21-day safari in order to shoot a lion. This can be a very short period to find a ‘ripe’ (less than 6 years) lion. Clients pay a minimum of US$ 30,000 – $50,000 for such a safari (excluding flights, taxidermists, etc.) and thus often demand to actually shoot a lion. If no ‘suitable’ lion can be found, it is likely that a poor specimen (i.e. a young lion) might be better than none (Whitman 2002).

Hunters on the conflicting side claim that the money that goes into these extravagant safaris go to the conservancies that protect wild animals and fight poachers. Hunters and poachers find there way around the laws protecting conservancies by evading detection. “Biologists estimated total losses of large mammals in protected areas on the continent at up to 60 percent between 1970 and 2005” (Paterniti). Animals like Cecil are still killed when they’re under protection because of the lack of personal principle.

Canned hunting is another activity created by trophy hunters. Canned hunting is the hunting of animals in an enclosure too small to allow an animal any chance of escape, or the hunting of captive animals which have been released just to be hunted. This practice facilitates the breeding of wild animals for the purpose of murder rather than conserving the species.

Cubs are bred and sold to petting zoos and when they grow too old to be handled by humans, they’re released back into the hunting enclosures because they lack the skills to survive in the wild. “Wildlife trade is destroying natural selection processes that have allowed species to evolve, thrive and survive” (Jane Goodall). Hunters and government leaders who take part in the practice back up their stated goal of “promoting conservation and education” with pro-hunting group, Safari Club International Foundation’s claim “that the roughly 18,000 trophy hunters who come to southern and eastern Africa each year contribute $436 million to the region’s GDP.

The Humane Society International says the amount for that region is at most $132 million, or .03 percent of GDP” (Paterniti). The animals born into these canned hunting areas live their entire lives with a price tag around their necks and an expiration date on their backs. Even professional hunter Kai-Uwe Denker believes the hunting community will make no progress if they keep falling on the argument that trophy hunting helps alleviate the poverty, “I see a very big danger in promoting only the financial side. Livelihoods, income generation, job creation—this is an additional thing. You cannot justify immoral things with money.”

Trophy hunting is a multi-sided obstacle, which is why a permanent solution hasn’t been put into play yet. There are the hunters who wish to continue their ways with minimal regulations, the governments who issue permits to boost their economic status, the villagers who desperately need resources to survive, and the animals who ended up with the short stick and no say in the matter. Animals and humans alike reap the greatest benefits when both communities are thriving. Finding the money to fund the conservations will create jobs for those passionate about animals like safari guides or locals.

Educating the people alternative ways to deter animals from their livestock including better herding techniques or sound devices will decrease the amount of cattle lost to wild game. “We need to understand that international trade in wildlife does not solve poverty nor does it benefit conservation. International trade often drives dynamics that vacuum key species from ecosystems, leaving behind devastated habitats poor of life and livelihoods” (Jane Goodall).

Cite this paper

Should Trophy Hunting be Illegal?. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/should-trophy-hunting-be-illegal/



Is trophy hunting illegal in the US?
In the United States, trophy hunting is legal in most states. However, there are some states, like California, that have banned the practice.
Why do they allow trophy hunting?
1. Trophy hunting allows hunters to kill animals for sport and to display their carcasses as trophies. 2. Proponents of trophy hunting argue that the practice helps to conserve wildlife populations by providing a financial incentive to protect them.
why hunting should be illegal?
1. Hunting should be illegal because it is cruel and inhumane. 2. Hunting should be illegal because it is a waste of resources.
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