Trophy hunting hurts, not helps, conservation.
PUBLISHED: THE HILL by Opinion Contributor, Cyril Christo, January 25, 2021
“I do not want to live on a planet where there are no lions anymore.” —Werner Herzog
How many times have we heard rangers say, why should I spend years, possibly sacrifice my life for a lion, or elephant or rhino, if someone is going to come to this park and kill these animals? “These animals are sacred,” a ranger told us in the Selous, one of the main centers of the elephant poaching crisis a decade ago, where 50,000 were killed in Tanzania alone, due to poaching.
We had gone to Tanzania 20 years ago and there were more than 100,000 elephants then. What happened? They were shot and destroyed by the poaching crisis, in the same areas where trophy hunting was allowed to exist. Today there may be only about 40,000 in all of Tanzania. Over 60 percent loss. A supreme tragedy.
While some celebrities have been attacked recently for voicing their concern about trophy hunting, specifically in The Guardian article of January 15, they are not the voices we should be worried about. They are not working against conservation. They may not have the pedigrees and scientific know how some are invested in. But they are also not accepting donations from hunting lobbyists. They are not making baseless claims, they are simply concerned citizens who are very worried that their children may indeed only have the fictional “Lion King” to witness in the not very far-off future. Because the lion is trending towards extinction. They are not basing their stance on “myths” as Pieter Kat of Lion Aid exclaims and ignoring science. Rather it is the other way around.
As he underscores, “Trophy hunting proponents have never been able to clearly show that trophy hunting actually benefits the survival and conservation of targeted species, and instead rely on soundbites and slogans. The list of species supposedly benefiting from trophy hunting in the article is laughable – none of them have flourished because of trophy hunting. Sure, rhino numbers have increased in South Africa, but only because they were placed in private ownership on game farms where the owners could do what they wanted with them. Trophy hunters were one source of income for these rhino farmers, but rhinos were removed from the wild to stock the farms, and no privately held rhino can in any way be seen to contribute to conservation of the wild population.
It is dumbfounding to see that lions are also on the list of species “conserved” by trophy hunters as there is absolutely no evidence of this – to the contrary, there are multiple examples where significant damage has been caused to lion populations living at the borders of national parks that abut hunting concessions.”