In The Crosshairs

With World Wildlife Day this month, Sana Panjwanilooks at one of the biggest dangers to animals
Imagine this: you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, perhaps heading to the café around the corner for a quick bite when suddenly you’re down on the ground. A piercing hot sensation floods your body one second, and the next, you are dead. Your killer claims your body, chops off a limb or two as a souvenir and then finds other uses for the leftovers.

This is murder, and a grotesque one at that. Yet replace a human being with a big-game animal – still a sentient being – and suddenly it isn’t as black or white anymore, it’s legal and considered a sport called trophy hunting, largely taking place in Africa.

Where traditional animal trapping is done to provide sustenance, trophy hunting is done for the sole purpose of recreation, slotted under the same category as a round of pool or golf.

Largely focused on the so called Big Five – lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards – proponents of trophy hunting argue that the fee paid to practice said ‘sport’ is beneficial to the wildlife in the long run as most of the money goes towards conservation efforts.

The World Wildlife Fund argues that, if strictly managed, trophy hunting is sustainable and benefits not only the wildlife populations of affected species, their habitats and associated ecosystems but also local communities. When the criteria are met, the strategy then enables communities to prioritise habitat and wildlife conservation over alternatives such as cattle-raising and converting habitats for farming.

In short, we’re killing animals to save them.

Though, are we really saving them? While places like Namibia are lauded for their tightly-regulated trophy hunting, it is one shining example among others which are not, like Zimbabwe where corruption in such schemes runs rampant – as stated in a 2015 report by National Geographic which said that elephant hunting fees, instead of funding conservation efforts, are instead lining the pockets of authorities.

Similarly, a 2017 report by the Australianbased Economists at Large stated that trophy hunting amounted to less than one percent of tourism revenue in eight African countries. This supports a 2009 International Union for Conservation of Nature report which found that surrounding communities in West Africa receive little benefit from the huntingsafari business.

In fact, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust authored a report which states that eco-tourism brings in significantly more revenue in comparison to trophy hunting.

Focusing on this economic avenue seems marginally less problematic then, if you ask me.

For argument’s sake though, let’s assume that the money is actually ending up where it’s supposed to, I still highly doubt that trophy hunters are interested in the conservation aspect of it. And if they are, there are much simpler ways to do so.

It is an unnecessary and cruel practice. The killing of one living thing isn't justified by the saving of others. And if we are still to cater to this utilitarian philosophy (for the good of all), then consider the fact that many of these conservation programmes are corrupt, meaning it’s best to put an end to them, for the sake of the many being fruitlessly hunted.


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