You have probably heard the story of the famous and tourist-friendly lion, Cecil. After an American dentist shot and killed this Zimbabwean celebrity dead, the debate on trophy hunting resurfaced. Hunters began to justify their belief in hunting with arguments pointing out the economic benefits trophy hunting offers. Trophy hunting generates money that can be put back into conservation efforts. Also, the money from hunting can have much more general use and can provide many job opportunities. There are other benefits to hunting such as education on hunting and harvests to communities. However, opponents of hunting suggest that trophy hunting does not provide as much money as others may believe. Furthermore, another opposing argument of trophy hunting believes the economic benefits of trophy hunting are outweighed by the direct impact the hunting has on animal populations causing them to steadily decline. This leads to the question, should trophy hunting be banned?
Many hunters and hunting groups justify hunting because hunting, especially big game and trophy hunting, generates money. The purpose of this money is to be put back into conservation and wildlife movements. Safari clubs consist of many hunters that pay money to go big game hunting in African countries. The Safari Club International, for example, produces roughly $436 million towards southern and eastern Africa’s GDP per year (Paterniti, 2017). Hunting produces money in many ways. Michael Paterniti of National Geographic says that since many hunters believe they contribute enough money from conservancies and trophy hunters being required to pay fees to hunt their game, “hunting indeed has made significant financial contributions to the continent (Africa), and habitat protection” and the anti-hunting groups only “make noise”. For example, the restoration of the Zinave National Park located in Mozambique is credited to the funds provided by hunters. The park is having 6,000 animals relocated to the park. Mozambique’s Sango Wildlife Conservancy’s owner provided the animals as a gift, but he claims that without the funds from hunters this would be an impossible task because, hunters are responsible for almost 60% of the funds for the conservancy (Hance, 2017). However, Mozambique, where the story takes place, has very strict hunting regulations and is very careful not to allow a large number of wild animals to be hunted. Allowing fewer hunts has the benefit of protecting wildlife populations more effectively. Strict hunting rules and regulations are the keys to having successful management of wildlife in a country that is popular for hunting (Hance, 2017). Joe Hosmer of the Safari Club International claims that hunting is an essential part to ensure funding to conservancies and conservation acts because, hunting ensures funding will continue from hunters by engaging them in an activity that they obviously enjoy (Hosmer, 2014). Michael Paterniti is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, a reliable new source. The New York Times has a slight liberal bias and is known for reporting factual and trustworthy information. The article I used by Michael Paterniti was published by National Geographic which is a pro-science source that is very unbiased with high factual reporting. Jeremy Hance is a writer for the Guardian. The Guardian is a news source from the United Kingdom and has a slight to moderate liberal bias but is known for its high factual reporting is reliable, as well. Joe Hosmer is the president of Safari Club International Foundation, not to be confused with Safari Club International. Safari Club International Foundation is a pro-hunting foundation but claims to be for wildlife.
From an economic lens, hunting benefits locals by providing more job opportunit1ies. Poaching is the unlawful and unrestricted killing of animals for meat, fur, or other materials. In many poor countries, people will turn to poach because it may be the only way to provide for themselves or their families. Hunting provides jobs for many people who would otherwise, turn to poach, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC]. Hunting tourism requires workers responsible for setting up camps and leading a hunt for tourists. Many people in an LEDC do not have a high skill set or education that could be applicable in other occupations. So, hunting tourism is an effective way to ensure the economy is making money by playing to its strengths. Regulated hunting also allows communities to better value wildlife and educating them. Properly regulated hunting shows communities the profits which can be made off legal harvests (Hosmer, 2014). A 2004 study on hunting tourism in Tanzania found out because of hunting there were approximately 3,700 people employed which branched out to 88,240 family members (Hosmer, 2014). This evidence shows that hunting revenue can reach out to a considerable amount of people and benefit them. The BBC is a very unbiased news source from the United Kingdom with, typically, very factual reporting. The BBC is a trustworthy source, however, sometimes will use some loaded words to persuade the opinion of the audience.
However, the other side of the economic perspective is the money hunting generates is nearly impossible to track down. In African countries where many governments are politically corrupt and not transparent, the money may not be going to the places where it should. Countries such as Chad, Sudan, Congo, Mali, Togo, and Nigeria are all considered “unstable” countries (Maruping-Mzileni, 2015). According to Rachel Nuwer of the New York Times, Tanzania has only “fed corruption and decimated species”. The money from hunting in certain countries, such as Zimbabwe, simply fails to reach the people who need it the most. Hunting results in less than 0.5% of Zimbabwe’s GDP (BBC, 2015). This shows that regardless of the amount of money hunting is producing it is irrelevant because many of the countries where this takes place may not be properly spending the revenue. Also, economically speaking, if trophy hunting were to be totally banned many countries would find themselves quite unaffected. Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all have minimal direct benefits from trophy hunting and hunting tourism. But, wildlife tourism in tourism in Tanzania, including zoos, sight-seeing or photography, etc., provides 12% of the total GDP for Tanzania (Maruping-Mzileni, 2015). This proves there are other ways a country with exotic wildlife can utilize their wildlife to make money and to do so much more effectively. Trophy hunting only provides 0.78% or less of tourism spending in these countries and 0.76% or less of all tourism-related jobs (Humane Society International, 2017). Nkabeng Maruping-Mzileni is a writer for The Conversation. The Conversation is an Australian source and is very unbiased because it has minimal use of loaded words and has credible sourcing of information. This makes The Conversation one of the most reliable sources. Humane Society International is also a reliable source because it works with many countries, organizations, and governments. Humane Society International is a branch of The Humane Society of the United States.
Hunting also seems to prove itself as counter-productive sometimes. Trophy hunting relies on the money that tourists pay to hunt large animals based on the idea in which the money made from hunts, which could ultimately be put back into conservation efforts, outweigh the death of a small portion of animals. Trophy hunting directly affects animal populations, as well. In Tanzania, the population of lions has decreased by two-thirds since 1993-2014 despite the lion trophy hunts and safaris that have been taking place, claims the International Union for Conservation and Nature (Paterniti, 2017). This evidence shows trophy hunting is not always going to be the solution to reviving an animal population. The hunting of animals with large horns, tusks, or other desirable features for hunters can be very destructive to the population to which it belongs. Hunters often target animals that have larger horns, tusks, or antlers than usual. However, these features that hunters are commonly attracted to also indicate good genetics to the females for mating purposes so, the loss of these traits results in a weakening in the local gene pool (Holmes, 2007). The lion population is a good example of how animal populations are being directly harmed from hunting. Jeff Flocken of National Geographic makes the point that on top of somewhere near 600 lions being hunted and killed every year as well as the number of lions decreasing from other threats. One male lion being hunted can mean the complete destabilization of the entire pride to which it belonged to because once the leader of the pride dies other males from outside the pride will try to take over resulting in more deaths inside the pride, specifically the deaths of the cubs (Alexis Croswell). This evidence shows that hunting also has lasting effects that extend to the rest of the local population rather than just the immediate deaths of the animals that were being hunted, individually. Alexis Croswell writes for One Green Planet which is a left-biased source with questionable factual reporting however, the information I used was from Jeff Flocken of National Geographic but just extracted from Croswell’s article. National Geographic is a reliable source with pro-science beliefs.
Before I began writing this research paper I was very much against trophy hunting because I found it unethical to kill an animal for materialistic purposes and I believed it was only right to hunt if the hunter planned on eating the meat, needed to kill an animal to survive or found it necessary to do so, otherwise. However, after researching the topic of trophy hunting, I found out there are reasons to allow trophy hunting. I discovered the economic benefits of trophy hunting. I believe there is a very reasonable argument to allow trophy hunting based on job opportunities and the idea in which money generated from trophy hunting can be put back into conservation efforts. Although I do have a better understanding and empathy for trophy hunting, I still do not support trophy hunting because I do not think there are enough substantial economic benefits to humans and conservation efforts to outweigh the direct impact hunting has on animal populations.
In conclusion, I believe trophy hunting should be banned, at least until there are better regulations to make trophy hunting an effective and productive form of wildlife conservation. I found the opposing arguments to trophy hunting to be more appealing because the arguments claiming trophy hunting can provide money for conservation efforts seemed to have very little evidence compared to the counter-argument which had economic statistics from multiple countries. Also, the argument against trophy hunting based on the direct impact of hunting on animal populations brought up interesting points which the opposing view did not appear to take into consideration in the argument.