Is Hunting of Animals Actually Conservation: Argumentative Essay

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In 2015, Cecil the Lion, a lion who was famously being studied by the University of Oxford in Zimbabwe, was killed by a hunter in South Africa. The death of the famous lion sparked global outrage on the issue of hunting and if hunting needs to be banned altogether. However, this outcry was just an outburst of emotion, when the real question for the sake of the animals should have been: does hunting actually help the animals? In other words, does hunting animals help protect the natural habitat of the very animals being hunted and keep many species from going extinct? It is important to first establish the types of hunting. In Africa, there is fair chase trophy hunting, where a tourist is aided by a local hunter in the area who will help the tourist track and kill the trophy animal, usually a lion, which can then be taxidermied and sent back to the foreign hunter and home country. However, there is another type of hunting called canned hunting, in which there is a small range on which the chosen animal is put and the foreign hunter can then hunt the animal. This form of hunting is generally frowned upon by every party as it has unsportsmanlike conditions granted to the lions or other animals that are the prey. For example, in canned hunting, the prey may be raised in contact with humans, and this contact makes the prey fear the human hunters less when the time comes for the hunt. The supporters of hunting for conservation believe the hunting industry produces money that not only is used to keep the prey of hunters from going extinct, but some of this revenue goes towards conservation efforts to help preserve the natural habitat from human development. However, the critics of the idea that the hunting of animals helps conservation believe that there is not enough evidence that supports the claim that hunting aids conservation efforts.

Melville Saayman, Petrus van der Merwe, and Andrea Saayman are part of a research group known as TREES, which stands for Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society; this group has the mission of tracking the tourism industry in Africa. The research is done as post-graduate studies at North-West University and is published to help grow the research pool around tourism in Africa. The researchers show in their paper titled ‘The Economic Impact of Trophy Hunting in the South African Wildlife Industry’ just how much money is generated by the trophy hunting industry. The paper’s findings were that around US$341 million was generated by trophy hunting alone in just Africa. This finding shows that the trophy hunting business does bring in a large amount of money, and if something like hunting can bring that amount of money, plenty of people will work to preserve it because their livelihood depends on the fact that there are animals to be hunted and land to hunt on. This also presents a problem, however, because the money produced by the hunting industry came from not only fair chase hunting but also from canned hunting. Canned hunting is immoral and has the possibility of being banned, so the possible fact that many would not allow canned hunting to disappear could cause both legal and ethical problems. Furthermore, there is the possibility that while people try to take advantage of the natural resource, they overdo it and cause the loss of the resource altogether. This possible weakness, however, does bring to mind the argument of Professor Adam Hart. Professor Adam Hart works at the University of Gloucestershire as a professor of science communication and has acquired the Royal Society of Biology’s Science Communicator of the Year Award, which is an award given to researchers for finding new information that can make the public inspired and well informed. He was awarded this prize for his research. Adam Hart argues: “We also need to find ways to ensure animal populations are more valuable alive in the long-term [even if that means sustainable harvesting] than dead in the short-term”. This argument puts the simple idea of ‘it pays it stays’ into more complex language but has the same simple effect of showing that hunting can keep the animals from going extinct because there will be people with money willing to spend it in return for hunting the animals, and one cannot hunt an animal if it no longer exists. However, this argument is weakened because it relies on the number of hunters to stay the same. If the number of hunters suddenly plummets, the amount of money hunting brings in would become significantly less, and hunting may cause more trouble for conservation as it could be used as an excuse to not put a conservation tax in place. This weakness hurts both trophy hunting and fair chase hunting, but it particularly weakens fair chase hunting, as the number of hunters is already dropping at a rate that may prove detrimental to the idea that hunting can fund conservation work.

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Critics of the idea that hunting actually helps conservation efforts include Nathan Rott. Nathan Rott is a correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) and earned the Stone and Holt Weeks Fellowship award in 2010. The Stone and Holt Weeks Fellowship Award is given to up-and-coming journalists and helped provide Nathan Rott with a job at NPR. Nathan has since specialized in environmental issues for his articles. In countries like the U.S., conservation is reliant upon the taxes paid when equipment is bought for hunting and fishing. Some of the critics of hunting for nature conservation want there to be a push for more “general tax money to address the situation” by taxing other outdoor activities, but this is unlikely to happen as most outdoor activities do not require certain licensing that can be taxed. The money that is taxed, however, is responsible for about sixty percent of funding for state wildlife agencies. Many of the hunters that contribute to the sixty percent of funding are steadily approaching the usual cut-off age for hunting, which is sixty-five, and with few young people interested in hunting, a large amount of money that goes into conservation is about to be lost. Jada F. Smith, a writer for The New York Times, wrote: “However, the report [a 25-page U.S. House Committee report, called ‘Missing the Mark’] says, ‘In assessing the flow of trophy hunting revenue to conservation efforts, we found many troubling examples of funds either being diverted from their purpose or not being dedicated to conservation in the first place’”. This shows the concern that critics have about the taxation that supports conservation as the money may not necessarily be going towards the cause it was assigned to, like many taxes. Other critics of hunting for conservation include Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Incorporated. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Incorporated was founded in San Antonio, Texas, USA, in 1977, but now lies on 212 acres northwest of San Antonio. Their mission is to provide a voice for animals who do not have one, to provide care for animals in need, and to release animals that have been aided and have been deemed able to survive in the wild on their own. Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation believes that hunting methods like canned hunts are not only ethically wrong but also cause different problems because they require exotic animals to be bred just to be hunted later, stating: “The sale of exotic mammals to canned hunts is big business for private breeders, animal dealers, and disreputable game parks and zoos. The overbreeding of captive exotic animals exacerbates the problem [of canned hunting]”. While it is unfortunate that the animals are bred just to be shot and killed later, it does have to be mentioned that although the animals are not in their natural glory, they are not going to go extinct from being bred in this way. This is a possible weakness in the argument because the source is being emotionally affected and this can skew their perspective. The critics of hunting for conservation do not present a replacement for hunting if it was to be banned. This lack of forward thinking is a weakness because it shows, furthermore, that the critics are blinded by emotions, and because if they truly cared for the animals they want to protect, they would find a new activity or source of money that could be used to fund conservation, but instead, they just demand that hunting is banned altogether.

In my opinion, the issue of conservation is an incredibly complicated topic, but I do believe that hunting, both fair chase and canned hunting, do have a positive impact on conservation efforts. Fair chase hunting brings in enough money and awareness to conservation that it is worthwhile tactic conservation. Although canned hunting is obviously not the dream solution, I have to put my emotions aside and just look at the practical effects of the industry. In my eyes, the canned hunting industry is no more unethical than the meat industry as it purposely breeds animals for slaughter, the canned hunting industry just has a flashy idea of pride for killing the animals where it obviously should not because the animal cannot escape. However, like the meat industry, the canned hunting industry does bring in money, and this will incentivize people to keep certain animals from going extinct. While the animals from this industry will most likely not have the former glory of their free ancestors, the fact that their species still exists will need to suffice. Hunting should not be the only avenue for conservation to gain money, but because of its effectiveness, it needs to stay a part of conservation funding. Furthermore, I believe that if there is an industry that holds both the ideas of sport and tourism, in one it will be successful and hunting happens to be just that. Hunting does of course have a finite amount of money that can be used for taxation and conservation, that is why I do also believe that other avenues for taxation directly for the use of conservation should be looked into, such as an extra sales tax. That being said, if there is an extra tax placed on the public for conservation, the funds would have to be looked after closely because I believe that funds for nature could be misplaced or misused easily.

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