Trophy hunting has been a hot topic recently with the killing of Cecil the lion causing international outrage. So as an African Safari Company I thought it was important to share our thoughts on this contentious issue. We could speak all day on the subject, however in this article we will just cover the main points.
Trophy hunting is big business throughout Africa, and with permits to shoot a maned male lion regularly exceeding $50,000 US it can be hard to ignore for many authorities, especially in the poorer regions of Africa. Hunters regularly argue that this money is vital for conservation and by being hunters, they are conservationists. Now whilst we agree
conservation and protection of the national parks in Africa costs a lot of money, we DO NOT agree that this is the best way to go about it.
The main rival to trophy hunting for conservation is Eco-tourism, which relies on the park entry fees of people travelling to these places purely for the pleasure of seeing these magnificent animals in the wild. Now whilst a lion can be shot once by a trophy hunter, the same lion could be shot thousands of times by photographic tourists, arguably generating more money. Also, speaking purely from experience, the widespread corruption in Africa usually means that large sums, such as for hunting permits, would rarely be spent on conservation and is much more likely to go no further than lining the pockets of the men at the top.
Another important factor in conservation is the attitude of the local people. To the usually deprived local communities around African national parks these animals are largely seen as a nuisance, they eat the farmers’ livestock and take up land which could be used to grow crops. These attitudes can lead to poaching and destruction of habitat. The best way to change these attitudes is to provide investment and employment to the local communities so that they see the benefit from conserving the area. Now if you compare trophy hunting to photographic tourism, hunting season usually only lasts 6 months and attracts far fewer people, whereas photographic tourism is year-round and attracts far greater numbers, leading to increased investment, employment and even infrastructure for local people, as roads would be built to accommodate the large number of tourists.
Now one last factor to consider, which is a big one for us animal lovers, is the effect killing these animals has on the animals themselves. For example, if you take away the alpha male from a pride of lions, then he is replaced by another male which will kill any of his predecessors young, killing off an entire generation. Knowing this information, we find it hard to conceive how anyone could take pleasure in such an act. Now a lot of people claim to avoid this that only lone or elderly lions are shot for trophies, but this wasn’t the case for Cecil and we feel many others as people pay the big bucks for the most impressive looking lions, which tend to be the alpha males. Similar devastating impacts are found across other species as well.
All in all, trophy hunting has no greater benefits than Eco-tourism either economically or for conservation in Africa. So please stop killing these magnificent animals, and leave them there for everyone to enjoy.