The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC), states “that well-managed trophy hunting can provide both revenue and incentives for people to conserve and restore wild populations, maintain areas of land for conservation, and protect wildlife from poaching.”
According to a much touted study by Lindsey et al (2006), trophy Hunting is big business in Africa bringing in a revenue of US$ 200 million. The researchers argued that private hunting operations in Africa control more than 540,000 square miles (1.4 million square kilometers) of land, 22 percent more land than is protected by national parks. As demand for land increases with swelling human populations, conservationists can garner more effective results by working with hunters.
“Trophy hunting is of key importance to conservation in Africa by creating financial incentives to promote and retain wildlife as a land use over vast areas,” said lead researcher Peter Lindsey at the time and added: “To justify the continued existence of protected areas in the context of increasing demand for land, wildlife has to pay for itself and contribute to the economy, and hunting provides an important means of achieving this.”
But almost a decade later, Africa faces an unprecedented wildlife catastrophe. Many iconic species, especially those favoured by trophy hunters, are in a sharp decline mainly due to widespread poaching and habitat loss but an analysis of six African countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania – where trophy hunting has long been regarded as an effective conservation tool, shows that trophy hunting, contrary to the common view, not only is having negative impacts on wild populations, but that there is also an extremely close link between legal hunting and poaching.
Five iconic species – elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards, cheetahs and lions – were selected for this report primarily because they are facing an unprecedented decline in their populations and because they are some of the most targeted trophy species.
The analysis will reveal that trophy hunting is an activity that fuels corruption, it encourages the unfair redistribution of the wealth generated without adequate involvement of communities, causes the loss of healthy individuals that are still key for reproduction and social cohesion and, most damagingly, contributes to the decline of all five species considered in this report.
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