7 July 2022
GLOBAL NGOS CALL FOR A BAN ON HUNTING TROPHY IMPORTS
Born Free alongside 166 civil society organisations around the world call for a ban on trophy hunting to protect threatened wildlife.
In a joint position paper, released yesterday in Brussels, 167 conservation and animal protection organisations from all around the world, including 49 NGOs from African countries, have spoken out against trophy hunting and urge policy-makers to ban imports.
Between 2014 and 2018 almost 125,000 trophies of CITES protected species were imported globally, with the US and the EU featuring as the biggest importers.
Dr Mark Jones, Born Free’s Head of Policy said, “Trophy hunting causes immense animal suffering while doing little or nothing for wildlife conservation or local communities. Indeed, in many cases trophy hunters remove key individual animals from fragile populations, damaging their social and genetic integrity. It’s time to bring trophy hunting to a permanent end, while seeking alternative, more effective and humane ways of resourcing wildlife protection and local community development.”
Dr Mona Schweizer of Pro Wildlife said: “Trophy hunting stands out among the worst forms of wildlife exploitation and is neither ethical nor sustainable. In the face of the man-made global biodiversity crisis, it is inacceptable that exploitation of wildlife simply for acquiring a hunting trophy is still permitted and that trophies can still be legally imported. It is high time that governments end this detrimental practice.”
Trophy hunting can adversely affect the survival of species and undermine conservation efforts. Trophy hunters often target rare and imperilled species or animals with impressive physical traits and remove individuals who are essential for reproduction and stabilising social groups. By targeting such animals, trophy hunters directly and indirectly contribute to population declines, disrupted social structure, and reduced resilience. The industry drives demand for parts and products of endangered species and incentivises and prioritises their killing through award schemes and other promotions.
Furthermore, shooting animals of protected and endangered species is often a privilege of foreign hunters, while access to wildlife and land is often restricted for locals. This disenfranchisement of local communities coupled with the social destabilising effects of trophy hunting on many species can fuel human-animal conflict rather than mitigate it. Such situations are further exacerbated by the fact that the trophy hunting industry fails to deliver meaningful economic benefits to local communities, contrary to what is claimed by the pro trophy hunting narrative. In fact, as most hunts are conducted on private land and the hunting sector is plagued with corruption, trophy hunting revenues usually end up in the pockets of hunting operators, private farm owners and local elites.
In addition to hampering conservation efforts and minimal economic benefits, the practice of trophy hunting also raises ethical and animal welfare concerns. Shooting animals for fun simply to obtain a trophy as a status symbol is ethically unjustifiable, disregards their intrinsic value by reducing them to commodities and puts a ‘price tag’ on death reflecting the amount foreign hunters are willing to pay for the kill. Moreover, trophy hunters frequently employ and incentivise hunting methods that increase the suffering of the animal, such as the use of bows and arrows, muzzle loaders, handguns or dogs chasing animals for hours to exhaustion.
“Economic benefit – which is minimal at best in the trophy hunting industry – is no excuse to allow the inhumane killing of animals for entertainment or to make up for the often irreversible biological and ecological damages it causes to protected species when there are alternative, more lucrative revenue streams available for development and conservation efforts,” said Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe. “As the largest importers of hunting trophies in the world, the US and EU have a moral obligation to stop contributing to this harmful industry through hunting trophy imports and to institute policies that support ethical forms of foreign aid, tourism and industry”, added Swabe.
In many countries around the world, citizens oppose trophy hunting and the import of hunting trophies. Surveys in the EU, Switzerland and the U.S. confirm that between 75 and 96 percent of respondents oppose trophy hunting and support import bans for trophies. In South Africa, the major African exporter of hunting trophies of protected species, a majority of 64 percent disapproves of trophy hunting.
“With the unethical practice of trophy hunting harming species conservation and the economy for decades, a policy shift is long overdue. Together, with a united voice of 167 NGOs from all around the world, we call on governments to take responsibility towards the protection of species and biodiversity – and to ban the import of hunting trophies”, concluded Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup of Animals.
Image (c) George Logan