Trophy hunting refers to the hunting of game for pleasure. According to the hunters, the trophy refers to the part of the animal such as the head, skin, and horns that are kept as proof of their hunting victories. In Africa, the Big Five game animals that are often hunted are rhinos, lions, elephants, leopards, and buffalo. In fact, studies show that between from 1970 to 2005, 60% of large animals found in protected areas were killed. Trophy hunting is legal in most countries. However, there are restrictions that accompany the sport such as when to hunt, weapons that can be used, and the animals to be hunted.
Types of Trophy Hunting
Trophy hunting may take various forms including ranch hunting, African trophy hunting, and North American trophy hunting.
Ranch Trophy Hunting
Ranch hunting involves keeping animals specifically for trophy hunting. Examples of such game reared for trophy hunting purposes in Texas and Florida include species of antelope, deer, and sheep from Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Africa. Other species include Iranian red sheep and Indian blackbuck among others.
African Trophy Hunting
African trophy hunting relates to the game hunting for sport in Africa that has been ongoing for many years. Africa is popular for its wealth of game found within their natural habitats such as lions, elephants, leopards, and lions.
North American Trophy Hunting
In North America, trophy hunting focuses on the mountain lion, called the puma, panther, or cougar.
Controversy Regarding Trophy Hunting
Proponents of trophy hunting say that the hunting fees help in funding conservation. Some countries such as Tanzania attribute its success in conserving its population of lions to trophy hunting revenue. According to a report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, between 2008 and 2011, trophy hunting generated $75 million to the country’s economy.
However, many are against trophy hunter. This is for several reasons. Populations of the big game animals are dwindling at a faster rate now than in the past. Hence, the focus needs to be on conservation rather than hunting them for sport. Although it is touted that trophy hunting provides funds for conservation of the wild animals, in most cases the monies are poorly managed by most governments due to corruption. As a result, these big game animals are quickly becoming endangered due to the threats to its habitat. In addition, experts say that trophy hunting affects the genetic health of the games species populations due to the fact that in most cases the animals hunted down are the oldest among their populations since they make the attractive trophies. These animals father offspring that are strong and have good genes enabling them to adapt to new environments.
According to a group known as In Defense of Animals (IDA), most trophy hunters seek glory in killing the biggest and most rare game animals rather than participate in conservation. Other organizations that are opposed to trophy hunting include League Against Cruel Sports, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).