The end of an outdated practice

In news by Adam Cruise

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By Samailia Sahailou – National Director of Wildlife, Parks and Reserves, Niger – News from Protected Areas (NAPA) IUCN

In June 2023, a group of 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials and community leaders who live and/or work in Africa wrote an open letter that was sent to Members of the House of Lords in the UK, urging them to support a bill to ban the import of hunting trophies. This bill is currently under debate at the Parliament. As a long-term conservationist, I have personally signed this letter, as have done several of my colleagues in charge of nature conservation at national levels in different African countries. In this letter, we underline many impacts of trophy hunting that we consider detrimental for our natural heritage: “Trophy hunting can have critical, negative impacts on the biology and ecology of targeted species (including endangered species). By removing reproductive-aged animals from the population, trophy hunting can decrease genetic variation, alter population structures decrease population density, and cause unnatural evolutionary impacts. Changes in social structures can exacerbate human-wildlife conflict (which can potentially put human lives at risk)… Trophy hunting has a history of mismanagement with quotas based on inadequate data, unsustainable hunting quotas, and a lack of transparency, all while there is insufficient evidence that trophy hunting contributes to conservation. Legal trade, including trophy parts, makes it harder to enforce anti-poaching laws and can inflate demand for the parts and products of imperilled or trafficked species…

The trophy hunting industry is based on an economic model that inherently incentivizes the overexploitation of wildlife while distracting investments and political capital away from diversified and sustainable revenue opportunities. It directly competes with and undermines truly sustainable and economically important revenue generation from photo-based tourism and other non-consumptive initiatives. The vast majority of funds generated by trophy hunting never reach conservation programmes or local households. If and when they do, such funds are entirely negligible for conservation efforts compared to the damage inflicted by the industry through the irreversible loss of key natural resources. Funds that reach community level are too often siphoned off by the corrupt local elite or simply used for other purposes entirely unrelated to conservation.

We also reject the fallacious proposition that banning trade in hunting trophies is neocolonialist or racist. The irony of this claim is that it is in fact the Western conceived, profit-driven trophy hunting industry that perpetuates colonial power dynamics and continues to drive social and economic inequalities every day across many communities. There are countless examples across Africa where operations of the trophy hunting industry have displaced local people, obstructed opportunities for community land ownership and management of natural resources based on indigenous knowledge and facilitated corruption…

Only by leaving trophy hunting in the past, where it belongs, may we establish conservation and development programmes that have preservation, rather than greed, as the primary imperative and ensure that local communities have a real stake in the management of their natural resources.” You may be in disagreement with the above. This is your right but unless you provide solid and convincing evidence that what we altogether wrote is wrong, my position will stay unchanged. I certainly hope other countries will follow the same pathway very soon! ●
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Adam Cruise

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