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article imageBanning trophy hunting may cause more harm than good

By Karen Graham     Jan 11, 2016 in Environment
A group of scientists are calling for better regulations governing trophy hunting rather than an outright ban because they believe a ban would end up doing more harm than good.
The researchers have suggested that if trophy hunting in African countries were better regulated, then it would ensure funds generated from the sale of permits would be invested back into local conservation efforts, according to Science Newsline.
Professor Corey Bradshaw, from the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute, along with Enrico Di Minin from the University of Helsinki and Nigel Leader-Williams from the University of Cambridge published a paper in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, describing a 12-point list of guidelines that address the reasons why better regulation over trophy hunting could enhance biodiversity conservation.
Professor Bradshaw says, "The story of Cecil the lion who was killed by an American dentist in July 2015 shocked people all over the world and reignited debates surrounding trophy hunting." And the world's news media described every aspect of the case, with Digital Journal publishing over 20 stories related to the death of the beloved lion.
"Understandably, many people oppose trophy hunting and believe it is contributing to the ongoing loss of species; however, we contend that banning the US$217 million per year industry in Africa could end up being worse for species conservation," Bradshaw says.
The research team even suggests that well-regulated trophy hunting can be less destructive than ecotourism, And with African nations already hurting for cash to implement conservation programs, "consumptive (including trophy hunting) and non-consumptive (ecotourism safaris) uses are both needed to generate funding. Without these, many natural habitats would otherwise be converted into agricultural or pastoral uses," according to The Dispatch Tribune.
While pointing out that trophy hunting can also leave a smaller carbon and infrastructure footprint than ecotourism, Professor Leader-Williams says there is a definite need for the industry to be better regulated. "There are many concerns about trophy hunting beyond the ethical that currently limit its effectiveness as a conservation tool," he says.
Quite often, the money from trophy hunting ends up in the private sector, meaning it doesn't help conservation efforts or communities. "However," Leader-Williams says, "if this money was better managed, it would provide much-needed funds for conservation."
Guidelines to make trophy hunting more effective for conservation:
1. Mandatory levies should be imposed on safari operators by governments so that they can be invested directly into trust funds for conservation and management;
2. Eco-labelling certification schemes could be adopted for trophies coming from areas that contribute to broader biodiversity conservation and respect animal welfare concerns;
3.Mandatory population viability analyzes should be done to ensure that harvests cause no net population declines;
4. Post-hunt sales of any part of the animals should be banned to avoid illegal wildlife trade;
5. Priority should be given to funding trophy hunting enterprises run (or leased) by local communities;
6. Trusts to facilitate equitable benefits sharing within local communities and promote long-term economic sustainability should be created;
7. Mandatory scientific sampling of hunted animals, including tissue for genetic analyzes and teeth for age analysis, should be enforced;
8. Mandatory 5-year (or more frequent) reviews of all individuals hunted and detailed population management plans should be submitted to government legislators to extend permits;
9. There should be full disclosure to public of all data collected (including levied amounts);
10.Independent government observers should be placed randomly and without forewarning on safari hunts as they happen;
11. Trophies must be confiscated and permits are revoked when illegal practices are disclosed; and
12. Backup professional shooters and trackers should be present for all hunts to minimize welfare concerns.
The suggestion that trophy hunting can be profitable for a country and its conservation efforts if it is strongly regulated is one that has been hotly debated around the world. It will be interesting to hear what readers have to say in defense of this strategy, or the reasons why they are against the idea.
More about trophy hunting, Banning, betterregulations, local conservation efforts, African countries
 
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