The impacts of trophy hunting on conservation and animal welfare

2 July 2023


Born Free’s Dr Mark Jones highlights the damage caused to individual animals, social groups and the wider ecology.

A computer generated photographic image of a lion skin lying in the African savannah in the style of an animal trophy rug

Thousands of animals are killed every year by trophy hunters, who pay for the privilege of targeting wild animals so they can bring their coveted trophies home.  

The activity is extremely controversial and divisive. Proponents claim that the money it generates incentivises wildlife protection and benefits local communities, that the hunters target ‘problem animals’, and provide meat for local people. Born Free is ethically opposed to the killing of any animal for sport or pleasure and challenges these claims.

In an article published by the Animal Welfare Science Ethics and Law Veterinary Association (AWSELVA), Born Free’s Head of Policy, Dr Mark Jones, highlights the damaging impacts the selective removal of individual animals by trophy hunters can have on the stability of their social groups and the wider ecology. He also considers the serious but often-overlooked implications for the welfare of the hunted animals, and that of their family members and wider social groups.

In his article, Dr Jones concludes: “At a time of unprecedented crisis for biodiversity, with as many as a million species at risk of extinction, the global community is under pressure to identify and implement progressive and effective measures to incentivise and resource nature’s protection and recovery. To achieve this, a greater recognition of the value of individual wild animals to their family groups, and the wider biodiversity of which they are a part is an essential prerequisite. However, the wanton destruction of wild animals in the name of sport should surely have no part to play in a forward-looking and compassionate society.”

A Bill that would ban the import of hunting trophies from threatened species, which Born Free strongly supports, has received the green light in the House of Commons and is currently working its way through the House of Lords, where it passed its Second Reading on 16 June 2023. However, a number of Members of the House of Lords spoke against the Bill, and its passage into law is far from certain, in spite of the strong cross-party and public support it enjoys. Born Free and other like-minded groups are working hard to ensure the government’s manifesto promise to ban imports of hunting trophies becomes a reality.

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