Trophy hunting is the selective hunting of wild game animals. Although parts of the slain animal may be kept as a hunting trophy or memorial (usually the skin, antlers and/or head), the carcass itself is sometimes used as food.
Trophy hunting has firm supporters and opponents. Public debate about trophy hunting often centres on the question of the morality of sport hunting and the question of the extent to which the money paid by trophy hunters benefits the population of game animals and the local economy.
Trophy hunting should not be confused with poaching, the practice of taking game illegally.
The hunting trophy
Such trophies are often displayed in the hunter's home or office, and often in specially designed "trophy rooms," sometimes called "game rooms" or "gun rooms," in which the hunter's weaponry is displayed as well.
Types of hunting
Big game hunting
A big-game hunter is a person engaged in the sport of trophy hunting for large animals or game. Potential big game sought include, but are not limited to: bears, big cats, hippos, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, moose and so forth.
Tanzania has an estimated 40% of the population of lion (Panthera leo). Its wildlife authorities defend their success in keeping such numbers (as compared to countries like Kenya, where lion numbers have plummeted dramatically) is linked to the use of trophy hunting as a conservation tool. According to Alexander N. Songorwa, director of wildlife for the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, trophy hunting generated roughly $75 million for Tanzania’s economy from 2008 to 2011.
According to a 2012 article by P. Lindsey and G. Balme, If lion hunting was effectively precluded, trophy hunting could potentially become financially unviable across at least 59,538 km2 that could result in a concomitant loss of habitat. However, the loss of lion hunting could have other potentially broader negative impacts including reduction of competitiveness of wildlife-based land uses relative to ecologically unfavourable alternatives. Restrictions on lion hunting may also reduce tolerance for the species among communities where local people benefit from trophy hunting, and may reduce funds available for anti-poaching.
Many species of game such as the Indian blackbuck, nilgai, axis deer and barasingha, the Iranian red sheep, and variety of other species of deer, sheep, and antelope from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands were introduced to ranches in Texas and Florida for the sake of trophy hunting. These animals are typically hunted on a fee for each kill, with hunters paying $4000 or more to be able to hunt exotic game. As many of these species are endangered or threatened in their native habitat, the United States' government requires 10% of the hunting fee to be given to conservation efforts in the areas where these animals are indigenous. Hunting of endangered animals in the United States is normally illegal under the Endangered Species Act, but is permitted on these ranches since the rare animals hunted there are not indigenous to the United States to begin with. The Humane Society of the United States has criticized these ranches and the people who hunt there for among other reasons that they are still hunting endangered animals even if the animals were raised specifically to be hunted.
Wildlife ranches dedicated to sustainable hunting have proliferated greatly in some countries of Africa. Notably, Namibia and South Africa. Wildlife has seen gigantic growth on private land in Southern Africa in the last three decades. It evolved from a mere cost, which was better eradicated to a great economic asset, once private ranchers were granted the rights of ownership over game. Wildlife ranches have contributed greatly to the South African economy, mostly through sustainable utilisitation of game as trophy animals.
Trophy Hunting in Africa
Trophy hunting has been practiced in Africa and is still a practiced conservation policy in many African countries. According to a study sponsored by CIC in partnership with FAO stated that revenue generated by hunting tourism in seven SADC countries in 2008 is approximately US$190million.
In an opinion piece by Jeff Flocken of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, he states that "despite the wild claims that trophy hunting brings millions of dollars in revenue to local people in otherwise poor communities, there is no proof of this. Even pro-hunting organizations like the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation have reported that only 3 percent of revenue from trophy hunting ever makes it to the communities affected by hunting. The rest goes to national governments or foreign-based outfitters. The money that does come into Africa from hunting pales in comparison to the billions and billions generated from tourists who come just to watch wildlife. If lions and other animals continue to disappear from Africa, this vital source of income—nonconsumptive tourism—will end, adversely impacting people all over Africa."
However, South African Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, contradicts Flocken's conclusions by stating that the hunting industry has contributed millions to South Africa's economy in past years. In the 2010, hunting season, total revenue of approximately R1.1-billion was generated by the local and trophy hunting industries collectively. "This amount only reflects the revenue generated through accommodation and species fees. The true revenue is therefore substantially higher, as this amount does not even include revenue generated through the associated industries as a result of the multiplier effect," according to Molewa.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, trophy hunting "provides an economic incentive" for ranchers to continue to breed those species, and that hunting "reduces the threat of the species' extinction".
According to Richard Conniff, Namibia is home to 1,750 of the roughly 5,000 black rhinos surviving in the wild because it allows trophy hunting. Its mountain zebra population has also increased to 27,000 from 1,000 in 1982. Elephants, which are gunned down elsewhere for their ivory, have gone to 20,000 from 15,000 in 1995. Lions, which were on the brink of extinction "from Senegal to Kenya", are increasing in Namibia.
A 2005 paper by Nigel Leader-Williams and colleagues in the Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy asserted that the legalization of white rhinoceros hunting in South Africa motivated private landowners to reintroduce the species onto their lands. As a result, white rhinos increased from fewer than one hundred individuals to more than 11,000.
A scientific study in the journal, Biological Conservation, states that trophy hunting is of "major importance to conservation in Africa by creating economic incentives for conservation over vast areas, including areas which may be unsuitable for alternative wildlife-based land uses such as photographic econtourism." 
Financial incentives from trophy hunting effectively more than double the land area that is used for wildlife conservation, relative to what would be conserved relying on national parks alone according to Biological Conservation.
Trophy hunting has been considered essential for providing economic incentives to conserve large carnivores according to research studies in Conservation Biology, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Wildlife Conservation by Sustainable Use, and Animal Conservation.
In the 1970s and 1980s, people in many Western countries assumed a pejorative association regarding hunting for trophy.
Many of the 189 countries signatory to the 1992 Rio Accord have developed biodiversity action plans that discourage the hunting of protected species.
The League Against Cruel Sports has produced a report alleging trophy hunting does not have a positive effect on conservation. They suggest ecotourism can earn local communities as much as 15 times the amount of money earned by livestock, game-rearing or overseas hunting. Ecotourism increases the number of jobs and lengthens the time wildlife exists as an economic resource.
Trophy hunting opponents also cite the genetic health of species because hunters often try to kill large, healthy individuals instead of smaller, unhealthy and/or unattractive individuals. This indicates the animals that would pass on evolutionary-beneficial genes to their offspring are, in fact, the ones that become less likely to reproduce.
On the contrary, proponents of trophy hunting claim many hunting fees go toward conservation, such as portions of hunting license fees, hunting tags and ammunition taxes. In addition, private groups, such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which contributed more than $400,000 in 2005, and smaller private groups also contribute significant funds; for example, the Grand Slam Club Ovis has raised more than $6.3 million to date for the conservation of sheep.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature recognizes that trophy hunting, when well-managed, can be sustainable and generate significant economic incentives for the conservation of target species and their habitats outside of protected areas, as well as support local livelihoods.
However, when poorly managed, trophy hunting can cause negative ecological impacts for the target species such as altered age/sex structures, social disruption, deleterious genetic effects, and even population declines in the event of excessive off-takes, as well as threaten the conservation and influence the behaviour of non-target species. The conservation role of the industry is also hindered by governments and hunting operators that fail to devolve adequate benefits to local communities, reducing incentives for them to protect wildlife, and by unethical activities, such as shooting from vehicles and canned hunting, conducted by some operators which attract negative press and foster support for hunting bans.
- In terms of their commitment to conservation through actions such as adherence to quotas and contributions towards anti-poaching efforts.
- The extent to which they benefit and involve local communities.
- Upon their upholding of agreed upon ethical standards.
A study led by Peter Lindsey of Kenya's Mpala Research Centre interviewed 150 Americans who had hunted in Africa before, or who planned to do so within three years, and concluded that most hunting clients are concerned about the conservation, ethical and social issues that hunting raises. For example, hunters were much less willing to hunt in areas where African wild dogs or cheetahs were illegally shot than their hunting operators perceived, and they also showed greater concern for social issues than their operators realized, with a huge willingness to hunt in areas were local people lived and benefited from hunting (Fig.1). A certification system could therefore allow hunters to select those operators who benefit local people and conduct themselves in a conservation-friendly manner.
Introducing a certification system however remains challenging because it requires co-operation between hunting operators, conservationists and governments. It also requires difficult questions to be answered, including; what constitutes ethical hunting? Who constitutes local communities and what represents adequate benefits for them? Some researchers also continue to express concern regarding what the larger messages of sanctioned trophy hunts for endangered animals might be, and the conservation consequences these might entail. For example, it has been suggested that contributions towards conservation organizations could decline because allowing hunting of a species could convey the message that it does not require saving. So even if the aforementioned problems associated with trophy hunting were addressed at a local level through the implementation of a certification system, the positive impacts for conservation may be outweighed by powerful global messages sent to distant individuals who can also influence conservation outcomes.
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