Five Studies Show Trophy Hunting Bad For Economics And Conservation

Is there a valid argument for trophy hunting? In-depth studies show that, if such a valid argument exists, then it has yet to appear.

Illustration of skeleton waiting for valid trophy hunting argument, derived by R. G. Kernodle from antique anatomy drawing, inspired by similar image/text combinations.
Illustration of skeleton waiting for valid trophy hunting argument, derived by R. G. Kernodle from antique anatomy drawing, inspired by similar image/text combinations.

Trophy hunting is the killing of animals endowed with impressive physical characteristics, in order to own and to display their body parts or whole bodies as trophies, after taxidermists prepare them for such displays.


Trophy hunting, therefore, is the killing of animals for personal recreation, fulfillment, status enhancement, symbolic achievement, social interaction, exercise, immersion into nature, or for other self enhancing purposes that demand displaying trophies derived from dead animal bodies.


Trophy hunters often claim that their hunting produces economic and conservation benefits. This claim is disproved by the following five studies, each of which is summarized below:

STUDY NO. 1: The Myth Of Trophy Hunting As Conservation

Picture of front cover, THE MYTH OF TROPHY HUNTING AS CONSERVATION by J. Rodrigues & Z. C. T. Force (2004).
Picture of front cover, THE MYTH OF TROPHY HUNTING AS CONSERVATION by J. Rodrigues & Z. C. T. Force (2004). | Source

J. Rodrigues & Z. C. T. Force (2004). The Myth of Trophy Hunting as Conservation.

  • Eco-tourism on private game reserves generates more than 15 times the income of livestock or game rearing or overseas hunting.
  • 90% of the trophy fee goes into somebody else's pocket besides the community that conserves the trophy animal for the kill.
  • Seasonal employment for a few workers from hunting safaris provides little training, compared to year-round employment for more workers from photographic safaris, where training is extensive and serves to advance careers.
  • Africa's hunting industry benefits mainly wealthy land owners.
  • Trophy hunting has a double standard, whereby wealthy foreigners are allowed to kill game animals for recreation, while local people are forbidden to kill the same animals for survival reasons.
  • Amateur trophy hunters are less capable of making clean kills than professional hunters, thus causing great suffering in these animals.
  • The double standard created by trophy hunting has caused local resentment to conservation efforts and a resultant increase in poaching.
  • Trophy hunting sends the message that dead animals are mere commodities for privileged human consumption rather than vital organisms that help sustain whole ecosystems that benefit all humans.
  • Trophy hunting can conflict with ecotourism by upsetting animals so much that tourists cannot view them.
  • The trophy hunting industry is overrun with corruption, and so it consistently fails to operate as theorized due to consistently corrupted management.
  • Trophy hunting weakens the gene pool of targeted species by systematically killing the most physically fit animals (encouraging "reverse evolution" or "survival of the weakest").


STUDY NO. 2: Wildlife Is Our Oil

Picture of front cover, WILDLIFE IS OUR OIL..., Doctoral Dissertation by H.T. Sachedina, University of Oxford (2008).
Picture of front cover, WILDLIFE IS OUR OIL..., Doctoral Dissertation by H.T. Sachedina, University of Oxford (2008). | Source

H. T. Sachedina (2008). Wildlife is our oil: conservation, livelihoods and NGOs in the Tarangire ecosystem, Tanzania (Doctoral dissertation, University of Oxfor

  • Wildlife serves mainly to benefit the elite, while doing very little to affect livelihoods of local communities and very little to improve conservation.
  • Trophy hunting and its management has contributed to wildlife declines in the Simanjiro district of Tanzania (an African country renowned for its trophy quality).
  • There are significant concerns about ethics, corruption and mismanagement within the hunting sector.
  • The trophy hunting industry in Tanzania is controlled by powerful cartels.
  • Hunting and photographic tourism activities allowed in the same area created conflicts, which reduced the commercial viability of community based tourism in Emboreet village of Tanzania.
  • Corruption in the management of wildlife revenue ultimately undermined conservation and contributed to wildlife declines in the Masai Steppe.
  • 3-5 percent of hunting revenues actually reached villages where hunting occurred.
  • Management of hunting revenue suggests that this money was considered a source of funding to support political expediencies.
  • More than 90 percent of households received no household financial wildlife benefits, largely due to corruption and mismanagement within the Emboreet Village Council.

STUDY NO. 3: Big Game Hunting In West Africa

Picture of front cover, BIG GAME HUNTING IN WEST AFRICA ... by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (2009).
Picture of front cover, BIG GAME HUNTING IN WEST AFRICA ... by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (2009). | Source

UICN/PACO (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and its Resources) (2009).Big Game Hunting in West Africa. What is its contribution to conservatio

  • The economic results of big game hunting are low.
  • Hunting contributions to Gross Domestic Product and national budgets are insignificant.
  • Economic returns to local communities from big game hunting, even when managed by community projects, are insignificant, and cannot motivate these communities to change their behavior regarding poaching and agricultural encroachment.
  • The number of salaried jobs generated by big game hunting is low.
  • The hunting sector uses up a lot of space without generating corresponding socio-economic benefits.
  • A privileged few individuals control the hunting industry for their own benefits rather than for conservation.
  • Hunting does not contribute at all to good governance.
  • More people have come to view the environment as a domain of global good, where hunting of wildlife to satisfy a minority of individual interests has no place.
  • The local community's share of hunting revenues is so low or non-existent that people resent conservation and engage in poaching.
  • Poor results in the big game hunting sector seem to indicate that the future for conservation in West African countries does not lie in setting up big game hunting areas.
  • Kenya has developed a tourism sector that is forty times larger than the hunting sector.
  • The general perception of hunting by present day public opinion is not very positive.
  • Hunting areas can prevent the development of tourism in community areas near national parks, thereby partly preventing the country from benefiting from the tourist explosion in Africa.
  • Big game hunting still might have a place in conservation, if the people controlling it would abandon their own self interests to manage it properly and consistently, which currently is NOT happening.

STUDY NO. 4: The $200 Million Question

Picture of front cover, THE $200 MILLION QUESTION ... by Economists at Large (2013).
Picture of front cover, THE $200 MILLION QUESTION ... by Economists at Large (2013). | Source

R Campbell (Lead Author) Economists at Large (2013). The $200 million question: How much does trophy hunting really contribute to African communities?, a report

  • Communities in areas where trophy hunting occurs derive very little benefit from an estimated $200 million annual revenue from trophy hunting.
  • Hunting companies contribute only 3% of their revenue to communities living in hunting areas.
  • Personal spending agendas or corruption in national and local governments often prevent hunting revenue from reaching local communities.
  • In the context of national economies, the trophy hunting industry is tiny, amounting to only 1.8% of total tourist revenues and a mere fraction of a percent of Gross Domestic Product.

STUDY NO. 5: Economic Impact Of Bear Viewing And Bear Hunting In British Columbia

Picture of front cover, ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BEAR VIEWING AND BEAR HUNTING ... by Center for Responsible Travel (2014).
Picture of front cover, ECONOMIC IMPACT OF BEAR VIEWING AND BEAR HUNTING ... by Center for Responsible Travel (2014). | Source

Center for Responsible Travel (2014). Economic Impact of Bear Viewing and Bear Hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia, Center for Responsible

  • Bear viewing in the Great Bear Rainforest generates far more value to the economy.
  • Bear viewing generates greater total visitor expenditures than bear hunting, and bear viewing provides greater employment opportunities and returns to government than bear hunting.
  • In 2012, bear viewing produced twelve times more in visitor spending than bear hunting.
  • Bear viewing companies employ an estimated 510 people per year, while bear guide outfitters employ only 11 people per year.
  • The bear viewing business is rapidly growing, and it appears to be a thriving business for, at least, the next ten years.
  • An estimated 60 times more people engaged in bear viewing than in bear hunting.
  • A survey showed that 79% of the people visiting the Great Bear Rainforest did so specifically to view bears.
  • Bear hunting has been declining since 1980.
  • A 2013 poll showed that 87% of British Columbians support a ban on bear hunting in the Great Bear Rainforest.

CONCLUSION

  • Five in-depth, independent studies show that trophy hunting, as currently practiced, generally serves only a small percentage of hunters and a small percentage of outfitters and government officials who have personal financial interests in perpetuating the practice.
  • The industry of trophy hunting, thus, has served as a false front for conservation and economic development, supported exclusively by trophy hunters themselves, in their own interests rather than in the interests of others or in the interests of conservation.
  • Corruption runs rampant in the trophy hunting industry, as evidenced by frequent reports about bribes and poaching that involve the very people entrusted to manage the industry properly.
  • Trophy hunting, therefore, has little merit for developed nations, whose people now (more than ever) view the environment as a global asset, whose living forms have survival value for the entire human race, for which every human being has an ecosystem responsibility.

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