For those who steadfastly believe that trophy hunting is a good conservation strategy, research indicates that for it to really work, it must be carefully regulated. One study from 2012, for instance recommends that lion hunting quotas be limited to 0.5 lions per 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles). And not only should the numbers be limited, but the age of the lions should also be highly restricted. Under such circumstances, the study argues, trophy hunting could remain sustainable while helping to preserve large tracts of lion habitat.
Sorensen agrees, underscoring the fact that, "regulation plays a key role in the success of trophy hunting programs ... and administrative transparency is critical," she says. "Each area varies and is influenced by human development, climate change, etc. and each piece of land must be assessed each year to determine the need for hunting programs to be implemented." In the end, she says, there is no single activity that can fulfill the requirements of true conservation on its own. For her part, she believes that hunting isn't the only answer, but rather it's an integral part of a multi-faceted approach to the problem.
Sillero of the Born Free Foundation couldn't disagree more. He says he believes that there are more values attached to wildlife than money. "We may want to protect wild species and their habitats for their ecological role, for ethical or esthetical reasons, or even for their cultural role," he says. "Using an utilitarian argument to justify the persistence of wildlife – if it pays it stays – is simply wrong. Particularly so when it involves wealthy individuals, paying for the right to take a life, regardless of what others may feel about it."
In the case of large charismatic mammals, Sillero says, local people can derive benefits through non-consumptive use, with visitors spending money to come and see those very animals through the lenses of their cameras, not their guns.
He suggests appealing to wealthier nations and societies to help those poorer countries that host the largest diversity of animals that may not have the financial resources to protect them effectively and sustainably. "We live on one planet, and the majestic wildlife that still roams free is our common heritage," Sillero says. "We can do more, we must do more, to protect wildlife, and we can do that without the help of those insisting that they protect wildlife over the barrel of their guns."
As far as Texas hunter Corey Knowlton goes, he still says he believes that killing that endangered black rhino will help the species survive. "I felt like from day one it was something benefiting the black rhino," Knowlton told CNN's Ed Lavendara, who Knowlton invited to join him on the hunt in early 2018. "Being on this hunt, with the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don't think it could have brought more awareness to the black rhino."
But what's really at the heart of the complex debate over trophy hunting is one of the great conundrums of the 21st century: How do we all — humans, lions, elephants, black rhinos and every other species on Earth — live together and flourish? This, surely is what everybody desires, regardless of where they stand on trophy hunting.
Author's Note: How Trophy Hunting Works
This subject is one of those deeply divisive issues that gives rise to impassioned arguments on both sides. More than once, more than I liked, I found myself experiencing a kind of cognitive whiplash as I was tossed back and forth between excellent arguments made on both sides, each backed up by sound logic and empirical data. In these circumstances, I find that I end up on the side for which I'm most temperamentally suited. I was raised a vegetarian with the understanding that I should try to avoid killing as much as possible. There are good arguments to be made against this position and I've considered them, but whether due to that formative principle, or to an inborn penchant, I remain a bleeding heart.
More Great Links
- Actman, Jani, "Cecil the Lion Died One Year Ago – Here's What's Happened Since." National Geographic. June 30, 2016. (April 4, 2018) https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/cecil-african-lion-anniversary-death-trophy-hunting-zimbabwe/
- Boone and Crocket Club. "Canned Shoot Statement." June 4, 2005. (April 12, 2018) http://www.boone-crockett.org/huntingEthics/ethics_cannedshoot.asp?area=huntingEthics
- Boone and Crocket Club. "Did You Know Archive." December 2009. (April 12, 2018) http://www.boone-crockett.org/news/did_you_know.asp?area=news - 13
- CBS News. "Who Profits from Trophy Hunting Riches in Zimbabwe?" Oct. 14, 2015. (April 13, 2018) https://www.cbsnews.com/news/zimbabwe-corruption-trophy-hunting-cecil-lion-conservation/
- CIC (International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation). "The Beginnings." (April 12, 2018) http://www.cic-wildlife.org/who-we-are/the-beginnings/
- Coltman, David W. et al. "Undesirable evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting." Nature. Dec. 11, 2003. (April 11, 2018) https://www.nature.com/articles/nature02177
- Flocken, Jeffrey. "Trophy Hunting: 'Killing Animals to Save Them Is Not Conservation.'" CNN. Jan. 4, 2018. (April 4, 2018) https://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/opinions/trophy-hunting-not-conservation-flocken/index.html
- Humane Society International. "China closes its domestic ivory market." Jan. 3, 2018. (April 14, 2018) http://www.hsi.org/news/press_releases/2018/01/china-closes-domestic-ivory-market-010318.html
- IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare). "Killing for Trophies: An analysis of global trophy hunting trade." June 14, 2016. (April 9, 2018) https://s3.amazonaws.com/ifaw-pantheon/sites/default/files/legacy/IFAW_TrophyHuntingReport_US_v2.pdf
- Mbaiwa, Joseph E. "Effects of the safari hunting tourism ban on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana." South African Geographical Journal. Vol. 100, 2018 – Issue 1. March 23, 2017. (April 12, 2018) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03736245.2017.1299639
- Leader-Williams, Nigel et al. "The Influence of Corruption on the Conduct of Recreational Hunting." Recreational Hunting, Conservation and Rural Livelihoods: Science and Practice, 1. Chapter 18. Feb. 10, 2009. (April 13, 2018) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781444303179.ch18
- Legarth, Mikkel. "How the ban on lion hunting killed the lions." TEDxCopenhagen. Oct. 4, 2013. (April 10, 2018) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiyQvm9d4tM
- Lindsay, Peter Andrew et al. "The Significance of African Lions for the Financial Viability of Trophy Hunting and the Maintenance of Wild Land." PLoS ONE. Jan. 11, 2012. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0029332&__hstc=87939463.f5dc8090e59056af30dbc3eba086b1ba.1474934400088.1474934400090.1474934400091.2&__hssc=87939463.1.1474934400091&__hsfp=1773666937
- Palmer, Katie. "I'm Still Alive." Conservation Lab. May 2, 2017. (April 14, 2018) http://www.conservation-lab.com/event-news/im-still-alive/
- Perlez, Jane. "Kenya, In Gesture, Burns Ivory Tusks." NY Times. July 19, 1989. (April 14, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/19/world/kenya-in-gesture-burns-ivory-tusks.html
- Proulx, Donald A. "Nasca Headhunting and the Ritual Use of Trophy Heads." Nasca: Geheimnisvolle Zeichen im Alten Peru. Museum Rietberg Zurich. Pp. 79-87. 1999. (April 9, 2018) https://people.umass.edu/proulx/online_pubs/Nasca_Headhunting_Zurich.pdf
- Radiolab. "The Rhino Hunter." Sept. 7, 2015. (April 10, 2018) https://www.radiolab.org/story/rhino-hunter/
- Schiffman, Richard. "Why Kenya Is Burning 100 Tons of Elephant Ivory." Scientific American. April 27, 2016. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-kenya-is-burning-100-tons-of-elephant-ivory/
- Schwartz, Daniel. "Cecil the lion shooting raises issues about trophy hunting in Canada." CBC. Aug. 1, 2015. (April 13, 2018) http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/cecil-the-lion-killing-raises-issues-about-trophy-hunting-in-canada-1.3176340
- Sillero, Claudio. Email interview. April 2018.
- Sorensen, Caroline. Email interview. April 2018.
- Thompson, Matt. "Does Trophy Hunting Actually Aid Conservation?" The Atlantic. Sept. 8, 2015. (April 9, 2018) https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2015/09/radiolab-on-whether-trophy-hunting-can-aid-conservation/404350/
- Usman, Jeffrey Omar. "The Game is Afoot: Constitutionalizing the Right to Hunt and Fish in the Tennessee Constitution." Tennessee Law Review. 77 Tenn. L. Rev. 57. Fall 2009. (April 12, 2018) https://www.animallaw.info/article/tthe-game-afoot-constitutionalizing-right-hunt-and-fish-tennessee-constitution - FNF24351142630
- Wade, Lisa. "A short history of trophy hunting in America." Sociological Images. Dec. 29, 2015. (April 9, 2018) https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2015/12/29/a-short-history-of-trophy-hunting-in-america/
- Ward, Rowland. "Horn Measurements and Weights of the Great Game of the World." 1892. (April 12, 2018) https://www.readanybook.com/online/30176