Trophy Hunting – Is The Tide Turning?

Trophy hunting is in the news again.

The ghost of Cecil, Donald Trump’s sons and their bloody exploits, and the seeming acceptance by Prince William that the trophy hunting of old, infirm animals can deliver conservation and community benefits, continue to grab the headlines.

Let me consider this in more detail:

Trophy hunting – the killing of wild animals for ‘fun’ – generates about US$200million a year across the whole of Africa, half of that in South Africa.

Wildlife tourism – that does not involve killing of wild animals – generates about $1 billion a year in Kenya alone.

Research by Economists at Large indicates that instead of delivering significant resources to impoverished local communities, only about 3% of trophy hunting revenues are applied at local community level.

Far from being in favour of trophy hunting, the tide is turning against it, with all trophy hunting recently being banned in Botswana, formerly a strong trophy hunting proponent.

Huge question marks hang over the sustainability of the practice, with the EU banning or suspending trophy imports of:

  • Lions: from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia (suspension), Mozambique
  • African elephants: from Cameroon (suspension), Mozambique, Tanzania
  • Hippos:  from Cameroon, Mozambique (Suspension)

There is much to admire about the way Prince William and United for Wildlife are helping tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade. The Declaration of the International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products, signed just days ago at Buckingham Palace, and an initiative lead by Lord Hague, has brought together powerful players in the transport sector to help strangle the illegal wildlife supply chain between the field and the markets.

However, on trophy hunting, I think the Prince has been poorly advised and, in my view, the views hen expressed are increasingly out of step with a growing body of evidence and the progressive views of the majority of citizens.

I hope that his views will change and evolve as the Prince becomes more informed and more confident about this particular issue.

The bottom line is this:

There are 7.4 billion people alive today. That number will rise to 11 billion by the end of this century.

Compared to that:

There are 400,000 wild African elephants. There are about 80,000 wild giraffe. There are about 25,000 wild rhino. There are maybe 20,000 wild African lions…

Trophy hunting is the preserve of a tiny elite who, by virtue of nothing more than their wealth, have the power to take the life of some of the world’s most magnificent wild animals, thereby depriving the rest of us of seeing, experiencing and admiring those animals (even from afar) and depriving the animals themselves of their very existence – for sport, for ‘fun’.

How can that be right?

We need a new compact with nature, one that compassionately conserves, protects and respects life. We can no longer subscribe to the notion of ‘it pays, it stays.’ We need to come up with a way of conserving life on Earth, not because of its economic value but because of its intrinsic values – that should be our job, our responsibility as human beings.

I think we are evolving in the right direction – the question is, will we evolve in time before thousands more animals needlessly lose their lives – for fun!

Blogging off


11 Responses to “Trophy Hunting – Is The Tide Turning?”

  1. Donna Mackenzie Says:

    Totally agree. Prince William has done so much to promote wildlife issues and conservation but I completely lost respect for him after his very misguided comments about trophy hunting. Aside from having no conservation benefit, you can only kill each animal once and just what would wildlife tourists go to see if they’ve all gone?

  2. Dave Denning Says:

    It was in 1964 I came across the filming of “Born Free” with Joy and Viginia !
    Keep up the good work !!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Dave

  3. Gill Gilbey Says:

    Dear Will,
    Surely, all Wildlife need is their own space! They should be accommodated not treated as a commodity by people.
    Africa should give them space to live and not interfere.Tourists will come to see them.
    There will need to be a complete stranglehold on the supply chain,and in my view much more needs to be done to stop the demand directly.
    Trophy Hunting is immoral and wrong,there can be no justification for killing these animals in cold blood.

  4. Beth Says:

    Surely the super powers would rather get kudos for what they saved rather than the elimination of species and race..
    let them war about who can save the planet and its infrastructure first..

  5. John R. Gentile Says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am posting this on my website and Facebook.It is absolutely incredible to me how big game hunters continue to defend their existence in light of overwhelming statistics that tourism is a far better means to bring revenue to impoverished African nations as well as conserve the wildlife that is declining at an alarming rate.

  6. Gerry Rogers Says:

    A very illuminating blog. Thank you. I wasn’t sure what the reference to Donald Trump’s sons was about exactly? Are they and he Trophy Hunters? I just wanted to say it is very positive to know that you think we are evolving in the right direction. I tried to start a campaign to create a National Telethon for funding Charities who do the amazing work like you do, but got bogged down in understanding how to make it into a charity. I had contacted many leading lights who agreed with it as an alternative to Children in Need, etc, Details at ( ) I wrote to Prince William but was politely told by his office to remove any idea that he was in support of it, despite me mentioning his good works with TUSK, etc.
    I had contacted the BBC, Lord Hall, and BT re setting up a Telethon, and they were interested but I just couldn’t get Trustees involved with creating a charity as is required for a National Telethon. My aim was to just create a huge National funding night for Born Free and other great charities.
    Virginia McKenna wrote to me of her interest but it seems that I can’t be a one man band charity in setting it all up. I need others to help with being Trustees, and with the Accounting. So, I left it alone for the past year but maybe will find a way forward again if it is of any use to prevent slaughter of animals for fun, to halt the decline in wildlife. Gerry Rogers

  7. Joanne Stephenson Says:

    Trophie hunting is a disgrace, wealthy or not they should NOT be allowed to take the life of any creature! Yes it’s their fun, find other ways to amuse yourselves, you imbecile.
    I was actually outraged with Prince William, old an inferm!!! So is his grandad! Would he think twice about having him shot???
    Tourism brings plent of revenue to these countries, what will happen when the animals declines so much that tourism is no longer a source of income????
    Ban all trophie and canned hunting, have stiffer penalties for those caught and help provide more education to countries who only know hunting as a means of making a living

  8. Patricia Says:

    Well said, and really useful figures. Do you really think it’s down to inexperience regarding hunting or just an innate belief within the country set that hunting is legitimate and useful? The romance as its perceived of big game hunting has come down the years, along with hunting and fishing making it into the recent top 10 country pursuits survey in the UK carried out by Waitrose. Sadly the trickle down carries into hunting with dogs that has blighted the urban and suburban landscape, with animal cruelty cases becoming more common. RSPCA views hunting as fighting because there is always a fight at the end of a hunt. And the law on fighting and baiting with dogs as it is tighter and doesn’t pander to countryside hunt supporters. So let’s call a spade a spade. I understand these things are complex – but also very simple. Let’s hope William gets that support to go against all that received tradition. Will he do a Peter Scott? Frankly, I doubt it, but let’s hope the new hunting entrenchment gets some kind of jolt very soon.

  9. lisa travers Says:

    I heard Richard Leakey today compare the conservation argument to a man having his daughter raped to pay for her school. I’ll never understand the pleasure from murder. I’ve heard of microeconomies created by protecting animals from poaching. Why not village based photo safaris?

  10. Stephen Wiggins Says:

    Good summary Will and the call for a ‘better way’ – Shared on International Wildlife Bond’s fb page.

  11. Jill crowley Says:

    I have had a passion for animals all my life, domestic and wild, no one in my family was the same, they liked them, but not like me.
    I have had the good fortune to take holidays that was the sole purpose of seeing wildlife. Africa is also a passion, I’ve only been once and the feeling is overwhelming, I aim to return, to see animals how they should be is wonderful, this should be cherished at all costs, we all are aware that nature is beautiful and cruel, so why should humans cruelty be inflicted on these creatures, to take a life to me is completely abhorant, to do it for fun is disgusting.
    I think Prince William has double standards, he will speak out for conservation, so if an area has enough lions, it’s ok to go and trophy hunt, he also believes in the hunting of foxes, and deer, this is barbaric, so though it’s good to have his name to bandy around, I’m not convinced.
    i don’t really advocate trial by media, but if face book is the only way to shame these barbarians and stop others for fear of being named and shamed I’ll go with it