Trophy hunters killed one animal every three minutes over the last decade, a damning study reveals, with creatures gunned down from helicopters.
Bloodthirsty trophy-hunters are killing one animal every three minutes, a damning exposé of the industry has revealed. More than 1.7 million animals, including lions, elephants and endangered rhinos, have been slaughtered in the past decade, with wealthy hunters competing to kill the most highly prized creatures.
The devastating figures have emerged in a book which highlights the links between the £300 million-a-year industry and powerful global elites.
Trophy Leaks: Top Hunters And Industry Secrets, by Eduardo Goncalves, also reveals the latest craze among American hunters is to shoot pigs from fast, low-flying helicopters. It claims that:
- South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is a member of a breeding programme that has raked in millions of pounds selling rare animals to trophy hunters.
- Almost 800 hunters have won the ‘African Big 5’ prize, an industry award for killing at least one lion, elephant, leopard, a black or white rhino, and a buffalo.
- Hunting lobbyists Safari Club International (SCI) awards a special prize to anyone who shoots more than 80 different African species.
- Game-hunting enthusiasts funded a £600,000 ‘dark arts’ disinformation campaign on Facebook and Twitter using fake accounts purporting to be Africans opposed to Boris Johnson’s pledge to ban trophy imports from coming to Britain. They also reportedly handed more than £1.5 million in campaign donations to US politicians, including Donald Trump.
Mr Goncalves said: ‘Future generations will look back aghast at how we allowed the world’s most endangered species to be gunned down in their droves by adrenaline junkies in pursuit of grinning selfies and gruesome souvenirs. Trophy-hunting isn’t about a handful of sick individuals – it is about a huge global industry which wields extraordinary power and manipulates governments.’
Hunters slaughtering pigs from the air is a craze dubbed ‘Hogpocalypse Now’ – apparently inspired by the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, in which a US soldier aboard a military helicopter shoots unarmed Vietnamese civilians.
The website of Helicopter Pig Hunting, based in Texas, boasts: ‘There’s nothing like buzzing over droves of hogs while cutting loose with your itchy trigger finger.’
Mr Ramaphosa is accused of being a member of a group called Stud Game Breeders, which makes about £7 million from legal wildlife auctions each year.
He has previously rejected claims of being involved with trophy-hunting. He says his wildlife farm breeds game and is ‘run in accordance with the strictest conservation and wildlife principles’, and that neither he nor his farm is engaged in illegal or unethical activities.
Neither Mr Ramaphosa nor the South African embassy responded to requests for comment.
Mr Goncalves’s campaign to ban trophy hunting has been backed by celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Joanna Lumley.
The industry claims that income from trophy-hunting pays for conservation efforts, but Ms Lumley said: ‘These people get a kick out of killing anything that moves.’