(I have no idea what is happening with formatting on this post. I apologize in advance.)
Now let me preface with my perspective here: I grew up in a hunting culture in the backwoods of Maine. The people around me hunted deer, moose, partridge, rabbits, etc. for food. I am a vegetarian now (and have been for 22 years), but I respect that kind of hunting. That is not wasting any of the animal. That is not endangering an entire species. That is at least getting closer to the reality and responsibility of consuming meat than people buying it at the grocery store do. (And I know that vegetarianism is a personal choice, not a lifestyle for everyone. Humans are naturally omnivores.) So I am not completely anti-hunting.
Big Game/Trophy Hunting just pisses me the fuck off.
It is 110 pages but if you really want to know how “effective” trophy hunting is for conservation and contributing money to these countries’ economies? Here is the summary:
Today in sub-Saharan Africa, very large areas are used for big game hunting (approximately 1.4 million km²), which is 22% more than all national Parks of the region. Therefore, it is an important component of African rural landscapes. This study clarifies the role of big game hunting, with an emphasis on West Africa. The data gathered has been analyzed to clarify the pertinence of big game hunting according to conservation, socio-economic and good governance criteria.Regarding conservation, big game hunting shows mixed results. Some areas are geographically stable, and wildlife populations are significant, but this is not the norm. Large disparities are seen between areas. Where management levels are similar, the conservation results from big game hunting are lower than those of neighbouring national parks or reserves. Hunting areas are less resistant to external pressures than national parks, and thus will play a lesser role in future conservation strategies. An undeniable positive result is that the conservation results that are obtained are entirely financed by the hunters, without support from donors and often without government commitment.The economic results of big game hunting are low. Land used for hunting generates much smaller returns than that used for agriculture or livestock breeding. Hunting contributions to GDP and States’ national budgets are insignificant (Kip note: according to the report, in most countries where this is an industry, it is less than 1%), especially when considering the size of the areas concerned. Economic returns per hectare, for the private sector and for governments are insufficient for proper management. Returns for local populations, even when managed by community projects (CBNRM) are insignificant, and cannot prompt them to change their behaviour regarding poaching and agricultural encroachment. The number of salaried jobs generated (15 000 all over Africa) is low considering that 150 million people live in the eight main big game hunting countries, and that hunting takes up 16.5% of their territory. To summarise, the hunting sector uses up a lot of space without generating corresponding socio-economic benefits.Good governance is also absent from almost the entire big game hunting sector in many countries. Those who currently have control of the system are not prepared to share that power and undertake adjustments that would mean relinquishing control. They attempt, thanks to a fairly opaque system, to keep a largely exhausted management system going. This position serves individual interests, but not those of conservation, governments or local communities.Hunting used to have, and still has, a key role to play in African conservation. It is not certain that the conditions will remain the same. Hunting does not however play a significant economic or social role and does not contribute at all to good governance.The question, however, can be summarised today as: can we do conservation better than big game hunting has up until now, in those areas where big game hunting is practiced? This is not at all sure, all the more so in that big game hunting pays for itself.The advent of consideration of environmental services and sustainable financing makes it possible to envisage financing these networks from a new angle. The environment is increasingly seen as a global good which cannot be used exclusively for individual interests or those of a minority. In modern protected area networks, hunting areas still have an important role to play in conservation: that of financing and maintaining the peripheral areas around conservation blocks.
Here is another study that confirms these findings.
In short, the way it is being run now it’s corrupt and inefficient with no impact on the economy and an uneven impact on conservation. It is certainly not as effective as the national parks. And it is certainly not as effective as pro-big game hunters claim.
The fact is that over the last few years, poaching has gotten completely out of control as guerrilla armies and organized crime have become involved in the ivory and rhino horn trade. And poachers do not differentiate between open land, park land and private land.
While pro-hunting types love to point to private hunting reserves bringing the population of the Southern White Rhinoceros back (to around 17,500 individuals), they neglect to mention that the Northern White Rhinoceros has only seven confirmed adults living in captivity and is considered extinct in the wild. The Western Black Rhino has only 740 individuals in the wild, while Eastern Black Rhino was hunted to extinction (following four of its sister species) in 2013. We will never see one alive again. (Rhinos in Asia don’t have it easy either.)
African Elephant population numbers are in free fall (both Forrest and Bush Elephants are listed as ‘Vulnerable‘). So are African Lions and Common Hippos. African Leopards are swiftly approaching Vulnerable status. Cheetahs, also on the menu for trophy hunting, are Vulnerable, on the edge of Endangered.
It’s perfectly legal to hunt all these animals.
It’s perfectly legal to beat women in Saudi Arabia for wearing jeans. That does not make it right.
And if they want to give meat to the locals (another frequent rationalization), they can buy them a few cows.
As someone on Fark said, this is the equivalent of a Saudi prince paying Dick Cheney a billion dollars to hunt a Bald Eagle and then dumping the carcass off at a homeless shelter on his way to the airport.
Given that the hard numbers show the benefits of legal hunting are highly dubious at this point, the “trophy hunting is great for conservation” argument holds little to no water. Dead is dead. It doesn’t matter if a poacher does it or a licensed hunter, the pressure on the population is still the same.
These hunting trips are incredibly expensive, and little of that is making its way back into the local economy. The tags to hunt a rhino or elephant can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while the guides are hundreds of dollars a day. And here is the sick part: on most of private hunting reserves, there is little to no “hunting” involved for the guest. The guides do the work, often driving the guests to where they know the animals will be. (After all, if the guests go home empty handed, they won’t come back and they won’t recommend it to people.) Sometimes the animals are raised on the reserve to be accustomed to human presence. The guests are not hunting, they are doing target practice with live animals.
Live vulnerable and endangered animals.
I understand that sometimes populations need to be culled (though if the animals had enough land to live in it would not be so much of a problem!), but professional rangers and biologists know how to do it far better than some wealthy thrill seeker. And who the hell learns that a rhino species was *just* declared extinct due to hunting and says, “Let’s go kill some more! Yippee!”
A sociopath, that’s who.
Big Game/Trophy Hunting is nothing but rich people to shoring up their fragile little egos by pitting themselves against an innocent creature in a laughably one-sided match. It is sick, and the people who do it are sick.