Trophy Hunting and why it can never be acceptable
”It goes without saying that the import of animal body parts as trophies should be banned outright by the British Government. I'm really shocked that they haven't already done it, in truth, the whole world should do it.” Dr. Brian May, Founder of Save Me Trust.
Trophy hunting is the selective hunting of wild animals for human recreation. For many people, it was thrust into the spotlight by the murder of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in July 2015.
Cecil was a radio-tagged research lion who was lured from the safety of the Hwange National Park by American Hunter Walter Palmer and his hired henchmen. Having lured Cecil out, Palmer shot him with an arrow before pursuing his fatally injured victim for over 40 hours before finally shooting him dead to decapitate him. Palmer paid $150,000 for Cecil’s black maned head.
Hunters make bold claims of ‘conserving’ the species and being ‘net economic contributors’ to poor countries whilst providing employment to local people. There are many problems with this, but for us the assumption that the only way that wildlife can survive is if it is given an economic value is completely wrong, these are sentient beings in their native habitat - not commodities.
There is no disputing that trophy hunting is a lucrative business. Hunters are willing to pay lots of money to shoot a wild animal. What the hunter companies don’t tell you is that the animals are bred, often inbred, almost to order. A young cub will be separated from its mother at birth and raised on a 'petting farm’ to be the face of a thousand ‘selfies’, before being moved to a holding pen to mature and finally a larger pen where the paying hunters can choose their victims, just to indulge their perverse pleasure of bringing back a stuffed, mounted trophy of their victim.
Strangely, an argument often used by International NGO’s is that whilst they do not approve of hunting, it is the only way wildlife can be saved. Their theory suggests that the pressure from the ever expanding human population, requiring more homes and villages would mean all the wildlife and their habitat would be ‘lost’ to development if the hunters didn’t pay to protect the land. This is the NGO version of the hunter's law. In the UK alone, there are many such NGO’s who receive many millions of pounds every year from the British public to save elephants or rhino’s or lions; we can’t help thinking that if all these experts worked together, surely we could make a real difference to the animals and people in Africa.
One area that could help provide a solution is eco-tourism; the reasons for this are obvious. Whilst hunters may pay large sums, ecotourists are much more numerous. Hunters can only shoot an animal once, but tourists can shoot it thousands of times in the animal's natural life. Tourism is far better for wildlife and human communities than hunting as a net contributor to the economy and the income is sustainable with people coming back every year.
Australia, Canada and France have all banned the import of animal body parts as trophies and the US could join them this year. Save Me Trust have been campaigning for ‘Cecil’s Law’ in the UK to include all CITES Appendix I animals, including elephants, rhinos, lions, leopards and cheetahs.
We believe the time is right for the British government to join the world’s other leading nations by imposing an outright ban on the import of animal trophies into our country, stifling the pseudo-economic claims of the hunting companies and killing the trophy hunting trade dead.