The idea that killing animals can actually help save them is a difficult idea to comprehend, yet it is vital for many conservation efforts worldwide. There is a pre-requisite that trophy hunting must be well-regulated and the governments that organise them aren’t corrupt. However, if managed well, the economic and conservational benefits of hunting should definitely not be underestimated.
The economic benefits of trophy hunting are very clear. In countries where there are regulations on trophy hunting, you often need to buy a license. Even if there aren’t particularly good regulations, individual game reserves can charge hunters to shoot certain animals. In South Africa, hunting safaris often cost several thousand pounds. This can be good for rural communities in poorer who otherwise cannot reap the benefits of tourism as they are more secluded from urban areas where most spending happens. These benefits can be in the form of vital infrastructure such as schools and clean water supplies that lack in more rural areas.
However, to some people, conservation is more important and trophy hunting is still beneficial for this is many ways. Firstly, this money is very important for funding the variety of things required to make conservation work. Game reserves and animal parks require money to pay the guards and other security measure to prevent illegal poaching and even catch illegal poachers. In addition, this helps fund tracking systems and equipment used to give injured or sick animals aid. For example, in Namibia, the primary source of funding for conservation is the money generated from trophy hunting. Finally, the education I talked about earlier could be very important in helping to educate children about endangered species and how to contribute to conservation efforts.
Another way trophy hunting is good is that it effectively creates an entire industry for recreational hunting. Again, if this is properly regulated, this can actually be beneficial for conservation efforts. The US Fish and Wildlife Service suggested that trophy hunting ‘provides an economic incentive’ to breed certain species more so that they can profit of trophy hunting. Here, there is a strong incentive to provide animals protection from illegal poaching and animal populations can go up as people actively try to increase the potential to capitalise of this industry.
But perhaps the best way to highlight the benefits of trophy hunting is to look at the alternatives. If governments are not able to set up wildlife reserves, then this land is likely to be used for farming, or poachers are likely to operate in these areas where the government is unable to effectively monitor. Poaching is far worse than trophy hunting as instead of killing just one animal, poachers kill thousands of animals and this has had detrimental effects on wildlife all over the world. In addition, other land uses such as farming often require the clearing out of land and this deforestation destroys the homes of many animals. Processes such as slash and burn kill thousands of animals and the loss of habitat makes survival difficult for survivors. Additionally, this increases the chance of interaction with humans for a few reasons. Firstly, when their habitats are destroyed, animals inevitably will search for new homes which can result in them crossing villages. In a lot of these cases, villagers will kill these animals to protect themselves. In addition, the death of animals as a result of deforestation means that some animals resort to preying on livestock which again forces villagers and farmers to shoot these animals. If we do not set up areas to keep animals safe, then far more animals could die than the few that are killed for trophy hunting. There is a trade-off to be made here and trophy hunting is good in that it helps protects far more endangered species than we otherwise could.
This is not to say that trophy hunting is without its flaws. Other alternatives such as wildlife safaris exist (although trophy hunting generates substantially more income that can be used for conservation). However, at this very moment, many countries are dependent on trophy hunting. If in the long term, we can find another source of income that protects these animals (such as charity), then trophy hunting would not be a good thing. But currently, if regulated, trophy hunting is on balance a good thing.