Is Trophy Hunting an Ethical Conservation Tool: Essay

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1.0 Introduction

Currently, Trophy hunting has been extensively debated in the field of biodiversity conservation. Trophy hunting is a form of sport hunting of a wild animal that has specific desired characteristics under the government license, for leisure. Generally, it involves with payment of a fee for a hunting experience by local or foreign hunters (Booth & Chardonnet, 2015). The trophy is an animal or its head, skin, or any other body part that is usually retained by the hunters to keep as a souvenir in their homes and offices but not primarily for food or sustenance (Nelson et al., 2016; Loveridge, Reynolds and Milner-Gulland, 2007).

One of the most extreme varieties of trophy hunting is known as canned hunting which represents a very small proportion of hunting, raises very different issues from trophy hunting of free-ranging animals, and is unfitted declined by existing IUCN policy.

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Some endangered species were killed by hunters with approval from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CTES). Furthermore, Palazy et al., (2011) found an increase in the number of lions, cheetahs, and leopards killed for seven years. Methods are used to kill the animals; trophy hunting (where a gun or bow and arrow were used in the hunt) and trophy fishing or trophy trapping (Booth & Chardonnet, 2015).

Trophy hunting takes place in various forms of governance, management, and ecological contexts, so its wide impacts on conservation, from negative to neutral and to positive. In many ways, correct evidence is lacking, so it is currently difficult to calculate precisely how widespread each outcome is (Corlett, R. T., 2007). In these situations, Trophy hunting is sometimes applied, which is a controversial legal and ethical issue. Nelson et al.,2016, state that the ethics of hunting is the subject of one of the not ending debates within the conservation community. On the other hand, Philosopher King commented it is a fundamental evolutionary component of human life, hunting is part of our genetic heritage (King et al., 2005). However, Trophy hunting has been controversially debated, and there are indeed a few advantages associated with this practice.

2.0 Legal Argument

2.1. Opponent

Casamitjan and Tsang (2016) represent that the laws and policies on trophy hunting remain complicated, according many scientists, governments, and conservationists are unable to agree on great preservation and conservation practices. Some countries have taken notice of its adverse effects of it. Trophy hunting can have an on already decimated wildlife populations. Trophy hunting bans around the world involve the shooting of genetically manipulated and selectively bred animals. Figure shows the countries which are banned. In addition, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) commented that trophy hunting is illegal (IUCN, 2016).

Commercial poaching must be different and It is illegal hunting due to hunters generating significant income by hunting demand for animal products such as ivory and rhino horn. In addition, illegal hunting typically results in population depletion and in severe scenarios may lead to the loss of species (Corlett, R.T, 2007).

2.2 Proponent

In some circumstances, where trophy hunting is practiced legally, based on sound scientific grounds, it can benefit biodiversity and assist conservation objectives (Aryal et al., 2015). Trophy hunting is legal in certain counties such as; Europe, the USA, Canada, and Mexico, several countries in East, Central, and South Asia, and around 23 sub-Saharan African countries (Lindsey, Roulet, and Romanach, 2007), several countries in Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. However, some community organizations like International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Boone and Crockett Club in North America, participate in deciding on its legalization (Minin, William & Corey,2016)

3.0 Ethical Argument

As King (2005) described the ethical dilemma surrounding trophy hunting is still a controversial issue between culture and nature, high technology and ancient folk habits, economic need, and reaction between compassion and exploitation. Some conservationists believe that hunting is fundamentally incompatible with the direct moral standing of non-human animals and stop hunting. In contrast, some philosophers who were against trophy hunting argued to ban non-human animal hunting for their direct moral standing (Bashqawi, N., 2014).

The ethical principles of beneficence (animal welfare), nonmaleficence (avoidance of harm), animalism respect, as well as promotion of justice and fairness. The use of trophy hunting opportunities as a conservation tool, however, has led to differences of opinion over whether wildlife should or should not be killed to promote conservation objectives (Williams et al., 2005). Nelson et al. (2016), proposed the ethical discipline called, is consequentialism which the consequences of one’s action are the sole basis for judging whether they are right or wrong.

Rust and Verssimo (2015) commented consequentialist views are common in conservation. Furthermore, judging whether the killing of threatened animals is justified requires an analysis both of the consequences of the population and individual species which are being killed and the actions of the individual doing the killing. The ethics of trophy hunting is the moral status of different arguments (Nelson et al., 2016). The ethical dilemma of trophy hunting is evaluated with help of certain case studies.

3.1 Does Trophy hunting provide a positive conservation impact on finances & biodiversity?

3.1.1 Proponent

According to proponents of trophy hunting, as a conservational tool trophy hunting is morally justified. Supporters of trophy hunting, and even canned hunting, proclaim their activities support conservation. Despite this shortcoming, trophy hunting is legalized in countries like South Africa, Due to hunting generates substantial income (Loveridge, Reynolds, and Milner-Gulland, 2007).

Hence, it is clear that with effective governance and management, this practice does have positive impacts.

Lindsey et al., 2012 state that trophy hunting generates the conservation of wild habitats and provides potential revenue for conservation. According to the CITES proposal, at least 1.7 million hunting trophies have been traded between 2004-2014.

Lion is classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) Red List of Threatened species. The most studied lion is the African lion (Panthera leo) which is a species of great ecological and economic significance among these top predators (Becker et al., 2013).

Trophy hunting for lions, particularly adult healthy males is a substantial source of income for many developing African countries (Tanzania, Benin, Niger and etc.) especially, where they are less attractive to photographic tourists (Loveridge et al., 2007; Sandbrook & William, 2012 ). As an ethical principle, the beneficiary of trophy hunting is, lion hunting contributes a higher financial viability impact, with proportional significance highest in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia (Lindsey et al., 2012). There is no other species population in Tanzania. Thus, Lion trophy hunting generates proportional significance financial.

The trophy hunting industry is not dependent only on lions for viability and other species such as elephants, buffalo and leopards are more vital in financial terms (Lindsey et al., 2012). According to the IUCN report, the bulk of income was generated while trophy hunting. As an example, 0.35% of the white and black rhinos conserved by South Africa and Namibia, will have generated a turnover of close to US$4 million (IUCN,2016).

The amount charged for trophy hunting is utilized for improving the standard of living of endangered species. It would be profitable for them to be partners in the conservation effects. International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) stated hunting contributes to otherwise poor communities. Alexandra Songarwa mentioned this scenario as “Saving lions by killing them” (Ahamed, A., 2016). Hence, his statement also asserts that trophy hunting is ethical under the ethical principle of beneficence. Indeed, Hunting ethics contains benefits for future generations of people and wildlife as a conservation tool.

Additionally, another argument, trophy hunting may impact biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, beneficence that favors trophy hunting is hunting animals that are old males who have already contributed to the gene pool (Vora, A., 2018).

A special case of killing Black rhinos in Namibia is still debated, as Corey Knowlton’s statement, that hunting older rhinos would not contribute to the gene pool and they could no longer reproduce. Scientific studies which are cited by IUCN note that the absence of older males from the pool actually improves the fertility of the group, which leads to an increase in the population of rhinos. In South Africa, the population of white rhinos increased from 1,800 (in 1968) to around 18,400; and in South Africa and Namibia, the black rhino increased from around 2,520 (in 2004) to around 3,500 (IUCN,2016). This evidence reveals a positive correlation between population growth and trophy hunting. According to the IUCN report, white rhinos are no longer a threatened species whereas still, whereas black rhinos are critically endangered. Hunting advocates pointed out that killing animals who are older, aggressive, or non-breeding for conservation is moral in order to this scenario. In the case of black rhinos, animal killing for conservation is ethical.

3.1.2 Opponent

Does Trophy hunting provide a negative impact on biodiversity?

Most hunters are driven by self-interest that does not mean hunters do not respect animals. Though, most countries are allowed to hunt certain animals (as pointed out above). This case made certain animals made “scapegoats” while the remaining species can live. View of animal rights, even all non-human animals are sentient beings thus they have (individual rights) autonomy to live. All animals should be treated equally. Although such hunting advocates argue that animalism (interest of individual animals) is taken as a human attribute not that of animals. From this point, killing animals is unethical (Ahmad, A., 2016).

The opposition to trophy hunting is driven by the emotional aspect that may have a legitimate part to play role in moral judgment but in some cases, conservationists may be neglected the importance of emotion. Hence, the ethical dilemma of hunting is the animal rights movement and concerns harming individual sentient beings. The key for conservation professionals is recognizing that emotion is not anathema to rational decision‐making. Philosopher Peter Singer has argued while killing animals, there’s much suffering and pain that may not be ignored (King et al., 2005). Such views against animal rights activities said that non-human animals are not feeling creatures. Hence, they believed, the animal has no mental stress. Thus, there can be arguments that there is no animal welfare issue. In contrast, Tom Reghan argues, that hunting animals have inherent value thus, moral precedence should be given to animals over ecosystems, just as it is given to human beings (King et al., 2005). Where human-animal relation is considered, the moral rule is “save people over animals (Hazzah, Borgerhoff & Frank, 2009). Additionally, hunted animals can suffer from extreme fear and stress during hunting. Sometimes the victims are parents with dependent offspring who also die as well, slowly, of starvation. These animals' argument mentioned above is similarly based on human utilitarianism. Thus, this argument which is hunting suffer hunted animals is untenable. Although, as divinity ethics, every entity in nature has its particular right to exist (Lindsey, P. A., 2008). Nevertheless, scientifically, the high-stress hormone (Cortisol) is found in hunted animals rather than in normal animals (Mentaberre et al.,2010). Hunters must make sure that does no harm to animals which means non-maleficence. In order to do that, killing animals is morally wrong.

In contrast to 3.2.1 statements, hunters most prefer to kill big and already rarest vulnerable animals. Thus, hunting adversely affects the gene pool and reduces the average size of future generations which threatens the ability of the species to thrive. Communities against this practice, hunting is an unacceptable use of natural resources and is highly offensive to the global human populations. In fact, even 86% of Americans oppose big game hunting.

In 2015, American hunter, Walter Palmer killed an African male lion, named Cecil is killed under a legal license in Zimbabwe. Cecil was a 13-years old famous lion and part of a conservation and renewing lion populations in Africa. But the death of Cecil drew global attention to animal welfare and animal rights (Bekoff, M., 2018). In this case, Cecil had more suffered before dying. As King mentioned, harming an individual sentient being is unethical. Furthermore, Oxford university scientist states that 72% of male lions were killed by trophy hunting and 30% of those male baby lion shot was under four years old within the national park. Regarding the ethics of hunting Cecil, for conservation, killing animals is morally wrong. Though against this argument, Capecchi and Rogers (2015) stated that regarding the controversy, trophy hunting of endangered animals is acceptable.

Lion hunting generates the highest prices for all trophies. In this case, Walter Palmer hunter earned US$54,000 from Cecil the Lion. Hence, Trophy hunting is a significant ethical dilemma.

Not only that hunting can influence the behavior of the non-targeted animals (rare and exaggerated features), species like genetically or phenotypically altered due to hunting (such as reduced horn size), the introduction of species beyond their natural range (including into other countries) and deletion of predators (Nelson et al., 2016). The death of an individual animal cannot be justified based on animal autonomy, non-maleficence (limited suffering) by conservation efforts,s and hunter’s rights. Thus, Trophy hunting is considered immoral.

4.0 Conclusion

Trophy hunting is extrapolated from utilitarianism reasons therefore, there’s no noticeable way to settle conflicting viewpoints towards hunting ethics. Factors of physical and emotional suffering rarely take into account and this practice is mainly based on economic benefits. Thus, conservationists ignored this element. Such reasoning can also be challenged from the standpoint of animal rights. Nonetheless, trophy hunting is still an ethical dilemma for conservancies. Animal killing for economic or entertainment cannot be justified.

5.0 Reference

  1. Ahamad, A. (2016) The Trophy Hunting Debate. A case for ethics. Economic &Politics weekly 11: pp29-31.
  2. Aryal, A., Dhakal, M., Yadav, B. P., Shrestha, U. B., Bencini, R., Raubenheimer, D. & Ji, W. (2015) Is trophy hunting bharal (blue sheep) and Himalayan tahr contributing to their conservation in Nepal? Journal of Mammal 26: pp85-88
  3. Bashqawi, N. (2014) Kill to Conserve: Ethical Implications of Trophy Hunting Conservation Measures ESSAI 12
  4. Becker, M. S., Fred, G. R., Egil, D., Leigh, K., Carlson, R. S. & Carlson, A. A. (2013) Estimating Past and Future Males Loss in Three Zambian Lion Populations The Journal of Wildlife Management 77: pp128-142.
  5. [bookmark: _Hlk3996422]Booth, V. & Chardonnet, P. (2015) Guidelines for improving the administration of sustainable hunting in sub-Saharan Africa. FAO of the United States.
  6. Casamitjana, J. & Tsang, J. (2016) Killing for Trophies. An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade International Fund for Animal Welfare
  7. Corlett, R. T. (2007) The impact of hunting on the mammalian fauna of tropical Asian forests. Biotropica 39: pp292-303
  8. Hazzah, L., Borgerhoff, M. M. & Frank, L. (2009) Lions and Warriors: Social factors underlying declining African lion populations and the effect of incentive-based management in Kenya. Biological Conservation 142: 2428-2437.
  9. King, R. J. H., Bateson, P., Eves, H. E., Chrstine, M., Nelson, F., Kerasote, T. & Yaich, S. C. (2005) The Ethics of Hunting FORUM pp392-397.
  10. Lindsey, P. A., Roulet, P. A. & Romanach, S. S. (2007) Economic and conservation significance of trophy hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa Biological Conservation 34 pp455-469
  11. Lindsey, P. A. (2008) Trophy Hunting in Sub Saharan Africa: Economic Scale and Conservation Significance Best Practices in Sustainable Hunting pp41-47
  12. Lindsey, P. A., Balme, G. A., Booth, V. R. & Midlane, N. (2012) The Significance of African Lions for the Financial Viability of Trophy Hunting and the Maintenance of Wild Land PLoS ONE 7: pp1-10.
  13. Loveridge, A.J., Searle, A.W., Murindagomo, F. and Macdonald, D.W. (2007) The impact of sport hunting on the population dynamics of an African lion population in a protected area. Biological Conservation 134: pp548-558.
  14. Loveridge, A. J., Reynolds, J. C. and Milner-Gulland, E. (2007) Does sport hunting benefit conservation? Conservation Biology pp224-240.
  15. Mentaberre, G. Olvera, L. J. R., Diaz, C. E., Raich, B. E., Marco, I. & Lavin, S. (2010) Use of haloperidol and azaperone for stress control in roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) captured by means of drive-nets Research in Veterinary Science 88: pp531-535
  16. Minin, E. D., William-Leader, N., & Corey, J. A. B (2016) Banning Trophy Hunting Will Exacerbate Biodiversity Loss Trends in Ecology & Evolution 31: pp99-102
  17. Nelson, M. P., Bruskotter, J. T., Vucetich, J. A. & Chapron, G. (2016) Emotion and Ethics of Consequence in Conservation Decisions: Lessons from Cecil the lion Conservation Letter 9: pp302-307
  18. Palazy, L., Bonenfant, C., Gaillard, C. and Courchamp, F. (2011) Cat Dilemma: Too Protected to Escape Trophy Hunting? PLoS ONE 7
  19. Sandbrook, C. & William, M. A. (2012) Accessing the Impenetrable: The Nature and Distribution of Tourism Benefits at a Ugandan National Park Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal 9: pp 915-932
  20. Vora, A., (2018) Legal and Ethical Implications of Using Trophy Hunting as a Conservation Tool Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy 21:pp46-50
  21. Williams, L. N., Milledge, S., Adcock, K., Brooks, M., Conway, A., Knight, M., Mainka, S., Martin, E.B. & Teferi, T. (2005) Trophy Hunting of Black Rhino Diceros bicornis: Proposals to Ensure Its Future Sustainability Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy 8: pp1-11
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