Why is it that some find pleasure in trophy hunting- the act of killing an animal of powerful status just to mount its head on the wall? Is it a cry for attention or one’s need to feel as if they have power that drives them in this act? Wanting to end the life of an animal with such prestige and natural beauty is so troubling to think of. Imagine a future without such creatures to fill our landscape. How empty would the world feel? This planet is at risk of losing them due to trophy hunting as well as other causes. Trophy hunting is a terrible practice, that should be illegal because it is damaging to our natural wildlife and it is extremely immoral.
From a conservationist point of view, and even to the average person, the events that surround big game hunting are frightening. Trophy hunting has caused significant damage to many species, especially in Africa, and many agree that any hunting not used for self-sufficiency should be considered murder. There is a wide variety of targets that a trophy hunter may focus on, however, the most common targets are called the “African Big Five”. The African Big Five include the African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, African leopard, African lion, and the black Rhino. Four of these majestic animals are currently considered endangered. In the sport of trophy hunting, it is also common for hunters to find the largest, strongest male. This affects the gene pool for such species and leaves each generation weaker, making it more difficult for them to survive. A good example of the effect on wildlife would be the African lion population. Currently, there are a little less than 20,000 lions remaining in the wild due to their population decreasing by 42% over the past 20 years. An expert in this area once stated, “Africa once seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of nature; says American biologist Craig Packer, who has lived and worked on the continent for more than 40 years. But, he says, from 30,000 feet you would see that the habitats are shrinking. ‘Lions are really becoming more of an endangered species and hunters should really not shoot these animals for sport…’” (Michael). If their natural environment alone can not support such animals, hunting is making the problem worse. Along with this, many people find trophy hunting extremely offensive. Statistics show that 88% of Americans oppose big game hunting and 56% of Americans oppose hunting animals for sport at all. Animals are also capable of developing personalities, feeling empathy, understanding the concept of family/friends, etc… The only thing separating humans from animals is our ability to be aware of more than our immediate surroundings. So when must humans draw the line between murder and hunting? If something with a soul is killed for no apparent or natural reason should it not be considered murder?
Despite the clear reasons why such a sport is wrong, there are still those who might defend the other side. Some might claim that trophy hunting is beneficial to the animals as it supports conservation efforts. Trophy hunters pay large amounts of money for the right to kill these animals. Local governments and communities that are poor will set a few animals aside to be killed and collect the money to “save the rest.” However, corruption is a reality in this industry. There is little to no validation for the hunters and they are not quite sure where their money is going for the majority of the time. In their article “Trophy Hunting”, the League Against Cruel Sports explained, “During an undercover League Against Cruel Sports investigation in spring 2004, Sir Edward Dashwood, director of the EJ Churchill Sporting Agency, admitted to investigators that ‘90% of the trophy fee goes straight into some Nigerians pocket or African politician or whatever it is.’” (League Against Cruel Sports). Other reports also show that only 3% of the money paid by trophy hunters goes to conservation efforts! How does one justify trophy hunting with these numbers? Earth’s wildlife has not benefited from this practice. Luckily, some alternatives generate funds that surpass any revenue made by trophy hunting. One of the most important alternatives is tourism. Travelers will pay substantial amounts to see the animals alive and in the wild. In fact, trophy hunting brings in roughly $132 million to African economies while tourism brings in an impressive amount of $17 billion annually. Trophy hunting could be replaced by more safaris and even close encounters with hand-raised animals. This would help in the effort to make wildlife populations thrive and rid of the horrors of trophy hunting.
In conclusion, the audience can see the critical effects and cruel nature behind the sport known as trophy hunting. It is, in no way, helping save our planet and it is driven by the pure need for one to kill and boast of it. As inhabitants of the Earth, it is our responsibility to address certain issues such as this, which are not discussed as much as they should be. Losing animals of such great importance would be detrimental to Earth’s environment. Trophy hunting needs to be made illegal to allow natural populations to recover. Once one is aware of a problem, it becomes their problem as well. A wise man named Elie Wiesel once said, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
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