Born Free believes that trophy hunting is inhumane and morally unacceptable – why would anyone want to kill for fun? So we are horrified that after a lull due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, some southern African countries are once again offering up their precious elephants and other wild animals in exchange for cash from trophy hunters.
Zimbabwe has set a deplorable quota of 500 elephants, as it has done every year since 2004. Botswana has offered 287 of its elephants to hunters, cementing the current government’s about-turn from the hunting ban that was in place under its predecessor. Earlier this year, Namibia offered 170 live wild elephants for sale, sparking fears that many of these could end up on hunting ranches as part of its export quota of 90 elephant trophies. South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia have also declared export quotas.
Reacting to the news, Born Free’s Head of Policy Mark Jones said: “The sale of these elephants to trophy hunters is designed to generate what is, in the scheme of things, a relatively small amount of cash, much of which will doubtless be creamed off by hunting outfitters and officials, leaving little if any for local communities or wildlife authorities. Moreover, it risks disrupting remaining elephant groups and populations, potentially bringing them into greater conflict with people, the very issue hunting proponents so often claim their activities help mitigate. If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it’s that we need to rethink our relationship with nature. Reverting to the cruel business of trophy hunting will only reap further suffering and disruption, while doing little to restore the coffers of beleaguered wildlife agencies.”
Born Free opposes trophy hunting on ethical grounds. Moreover, elephants are a great example of why wild animals are worth so much more when they are allowed to live out their lives in their natural habitats. A trophy hunter might pay a few thousand dollars to hunt an elephant, whereas, according to research carried out by Ralph Chami from the International Monetary Fund and his colleagues, the activities of that elephant might be worth 1.75 million dollars or more to international carbon markets throughout its lifetime because of the carbon sequestration ‘services’ it provides when going about its normal day-to-day activities. Born Free is promoting a project called Rebalance Earth, which aims to help countries realise the true value of protecting their wildlife.
This and other ways of valuing nature, while at the same time protecting human and animal health, are the subject of Born Free’s Global Nature Recovery Investment Initiative which aims to identify the transformative changes needed to protect both people and wildlife around the globe.
Image © George Logan