POLL: Should “pay to slay” auctions be banned?

POLL: Should “pay to slay” auctions be banned?

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The world’s largest club was on the defensive at its giant annual auction in Las Vegas as animal rights advocates and conservation experts traveled from across the globe to condemn the industry that killed Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous lions.

The Safari Club International on Wednesday kicked off its elaborate four-day convention and “Ultimate Hunters’ Market” inside the Mandalay Bay luxury hotel and casino – drawing 25,000 people to the members-only show.

Animal rights advocates and conservation experts traveled to Vegas to condemn the industry, invoking the name of Cecil the lion as a symbol of the price of trophy hunting. Photograph: Reuters

In ballrooms and convention halls with signs describing the event as the “THE BIGGEST THE BEST”, hunters mingled with outfitters, gun makers, booking agents, taxidermists and other industry representatives and enthusiasts.

The Safari Club is on track to auction off a total of 301 mammal hunts across more than 30 countries that will result in the of at least 600 animals, according to the Humane Society’s analysis of the convention’s listings. The targets include baboons, grizzly bears, cougars, African lions, coyotes, wolves, jackals and many other mammals.

At the Luxor hotel next door on the Las Vegas strip, wildlife and conservation researchers gathered with leading animal advocates on Wednesday morning to decry what they described as the cruel and unsustainable practice of killing animals for prizes – invoking the name of Cecil, the black-maned lion lured from a national park in Zimbabwe last June and killed by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer.

“It is really terrible,” said Josphat Ngonyo, executive director of the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, who travelled from Kenya to Las Vegas to protest the club’s auction. “Not all the animals that are hunted are hit on target. Many of them are hit in the wrong places, and they are injured … and take endless days before they die.”

Over the past decade, trophy hunters have killed roughly 29,000 mountain lions in the US, according to a report released Wednesday by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International. Often hunters and guides use cruel methods, such as traps or packs of radio-collared dogs that pursue lions until they climb up a tree and are easy targets, advocates said.

The five states with the highest number of lion trophy kills are Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah and Arizona, according to the new report.

SCI earned $2.7 million from the auction of 314 mammal hunts in 2014
Pay to slay: the big five

“We’re turning wildlife into commodities and as long as there is this value on their heads, people will find a way to kill them,” said Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with the Humane Society of the US.

Americans are responsible for roughly half of all lion hunting in Africa, and a recent international study found that the African lion population has decreased by half since 1993. That paper reported that the population is expected to experience a further 50% decline over the next 20 years in west, central and east Africa.

“The people on the ground [in Africa] feel that the US is really imposing its policies on these countries,” said Ngonyo.

Big game wildlife hunts are available to those willing to pay the big bucks

The Safari Club refused to let the Guardian attend the convention or interview participants inside. Kevin Howard, a media liaison for the convention, said the club would not want a news outlet such as the Guardian writing about the club’s auction. The convention also barred other reporters from attending, according to the Humane Society.

In addition to the auction, the club is hosting a number of seminars this week, including one called “Encouraging Women to Pull a Trigger”, aimed at supporting female hunters.

Another one, titled “How Can You Kill Those Beautiful Animals?”, is focused on teaching people how to confront the “unceasing cascade of negative information and anti-hunting stereotypes” – an event that Kalinina said demonstrated how defensive the club has become in the face of growing public backlash.

South African Airways bans all wildlife trophies from flights

Supporters of trophy hunting, including the sons of presidential hopeful Donald Trump, claim that money generated from these hunts helps fund conservation – though advocates argue that very little revenue ends up back in the local communities where the hunts occur. Kalinina, referring to funds raised at the auction, added: “The money is often used by the hunting groups to lobby against conservation efforts globally.”

Outside the convention, club members and exhibitors lamented that Cecil’s death had cast such a negative cloud on the hunting community and argued that animal rights’ groups were misinformed in their protests.

POLL: Should big-game and canned, trophy hunting be banned?
Sport hunting in Zimbabwe is big business, with hunters such as David Barrett paying $10,000 for the experience. Barrett, who is British, and others argue that Western hunters provide vital revenue to local communities. Photograph by Barcroft Media/ Getty

 “The idea of destroying hunting – it’ll sound the death knell for animals and habitats,” said Rick Nagle, who books hunts in Australia. He argued that animal activists – whom he repeatedly called “greenies” – should support trophy hunting because of the funds the sport raises. “The animals generate enough money so people can manage the habitats.”

Mark Meyer Jr, a 24-year-old from Houston at the convention, said that most hunters don’t want to kill species. “People see it as a precious cat being killed when really there’s so much more that goes into it.” He said he primarily hunts overpopulated predators: “We’re out there controlling the environment.”

Trophy hunting cape buffalo in South Africa

His girlfriend, Kyndera Keithley, 26, said she has hunted hogs and alligators but wouldn’t shoot . “Safari animals – I’d like to see thrive, just because I don’t know how much longer they’re going to be here and there are a lot of close-to-extinct species.”

Regarding the death of Cecil, Sani Doncheva, who produces a safari television show in Bulgaria, noted that Palmer, the shooter, was not charged. “They found out everything was legal. People don’t know that hunters are always trying to [follow] the law.”

Trophy Hunting of Lions

Conrad Schoessler, a Washington resident, said he looks forward to the convention each year: “Anything you want to hunt in the world is here.” Asked for his opinion on the Cecil controversy, he responded, “This interview is over,” and walked away with his wife.

In a phone interview, Chip Burkhalter, the Safari Club’s director of government affairs, defended the auction. “Hunting in general is one of the best conservation and wildlife management tools that are available to us today,” he said, adding: “Hunters are the original conservationists in this country.”

Asked if the club believed the hunting of Cecil was ethical, Burkhalter said: “The hunter himself has not been charged … We’re supportive of any legal, well-regulated hunt.”

This article was first published by The Guardian on 03 Feb 2016.

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A Wilson
A Wilson

Absolutely disgusting “sport”, there are no words to describe how I feel about people like this. If you only want a picture to show your friends then I am sure you can find someone to photoshop you in one and surround you with virtual dead animals

Caroline Hope

Why should these obviously dearranged individulas be allowed to slaughter such beautiful reatures? I find it worrying that anyone would find it pleasureable to end a life in such a brutal fashion. I would never associate with such an individual not want any of my family or friends to either, who knows what else they may be capable of! I believe these individuals should be banned from entering these countries and destroying theit wildlife for future generations.

Marilyn-Brian Ashman

Sue Lesmond , AMEN!!

Sue Lesmond

Delbert Smith What goes around comes around.Hunters are the scum of the earth.They make excellent wall hangings and fertilizer!!

Ricardo Lima Cattani


Ciera Angelique Lightner

Would love to see this banned. Wild animals like this do not deserve to be killed , especially when they are starting to become extinct. There is no excuse for this situation.

Paul Dennis

Ban this so called sport! Disgusting.


No they shouldn’t.

Joao Henrique Bosio


Staci Reville Fallek

Delbert Smith…You are human garbage! There is not an ounce of compassion in these bloodthirsty psychopaths that get a thrill out of killing and smiling over an animal dying. They are all selfish, greedy narcissistic a-holes! They only care about themselves and their reward. They don't care that they just destroyed an animal's life and family. These animals feel fear and pain. Since these sub humans will never have compassion for anyone but themselves, they should be hunted to extinction!! I'm sure there are many humans that would pay mega dollars to hunt these despicable sub humans. Let the Hunger… Read more »

Laura Sivasli

That last picture makes want to puke. That man can barely stand on his two feet and murders a beautiful, healthy lion who could kill his fat ass in a second.

Susan Frudd

Yes it certainly should it is cruel and brutal and inhumane and there is no excuse for the people who kill animals for trophys, they have no right to take the life of majestic wildlife. They are murderous cowards. They are without compassion or care or understanding..

Kathryn Erskine

Clearly most 'normal' people already understand that this very shameful sub-human activity is completely morally wrong. With a landslide majority of the public voting this should stop! It is a revolting sickening sight to see the stupidity of these thugs photographing themselves with the animals they have executed to fulfil some lacking in their own manhood or personality. No Healthy person or real man would feel the need to do this, it is a sub-human activity showing a very low evolutionary level of character. Just a matter if time before its outlawed as it meets with such obvious public condemnation… Read more »

Pat Jenquin Rahikainen

All "pay to slay" events should be banned by law worldwide

Theresa Kemp

Why not get all these trophy hunters together and start a new style of hunting – put THEM into the reserves with the animals but without anything to defend themselves or hunt with other than their own hands and feet …. see who wins then … Fair is fair afterall 😉

Marilyn-Brian Ashman

Hillbilly Hunters with Shit for Brains!! . They have nothing going for them, than the want of killing an Innocent Animal, whose instinct, is to only survive in nature, without Cruel and Mean Intentions, such as the Lowlifes, who lack any self esteem. "Shitheads" affraid to join the Military to fight for their country!!!
These are the Idiots that should be Forced to fight along side the real Heros!!!


Well that guy didn’t stalk hunt anything that wasn’t in a fridge, buffet line or on a table.

Leigh Lofgren

These images are sickening and what on earth is wrong with us? There is no such thing as "sport" in killing. THe animals have no clue, don't have a way of fighting back and yet, these creeps kill for the joy of killing. They need to put their money to saving these animals, not killing them and sorry, but this has depressed and sickened me more than usual.


I feel sick when I look at all those beautiful animals who have just been killed “for the fun of it” and those individuals who get their photos taken with their “trophies”. Shame on those countries that allow people to pay for such a cruel and unnecessary pass-time.

Merrylyn Janiga

Hunters are souless, demented, vile apologies for human beings. Some, simply because they are devoid of any ability to make an ethical judgement; others because it helps to compensate them for their own complete lack of self-worth. Outrageous, barbaric and achieving nothing but raising the lust offor more blood-shed in those who participate in this disgusting 'sport'!


Ban all Hunting on any animal , there is no need in this day ‘n’ age if you want to hunt then hunt poachers !


Obviously you don’t know anything about the benefits of regulated hunting. The benefit is for humans and the animals. Unchecked animal populations are damaging to our society and the the health of animals…that is a fact, not an opinion.

Derik Palmer

I'd be happy for 'pay to slay' to continue if I could pay to shoot hunters; they are a menace and far from being an endangered species. Mind you, if they thought for a moment that they might themselves become prey I think a lot of them would suddenly develop an overwhelming interest in stamp collecting…


@4Carmilla Fat idiot. Hope he gets eaten alive


These auctions say that having enough money will allow you to do what you want. The bigger question should be does hunting have a place in conservation? What I dislike about the people who participate in these acts is the fact that all they are doing is killing for fun. I do not see respect for the animals. Gloating over an animal you have killed at no risk to yourself does not show respect. Additionally donating the meat to local people is not an excuse either. We have learned that even old animals play an important part in the social… Read more »

Joan Dabulewicz

I can only repeat what I have said before. There are people who hunt for the pot, their living conditions and need for survival require that they provide sustenance for their families. That said, there are are, ahem… "Superheroes" out there who consider themselves sharpshooters canned hunting or wholesale slaughter suits their need to prove themselves, to what end? They can join clubs with set out targets to display their shooting skills. For goodness sake the years of The Great White Hunter have long passed!

Irish Cornaire

Delbert Smith Sue may not be the majority but I help rescue and rehabilitate injured wild life and ye term bunny hugger is ignorant and ye are part of the problem,not the solution when we are busting our arses off to save certain species.

Irish Cornaire

Wish I could reach into my monitor and put a bullet into each hunters head >:(

Judith Miller

Trophy killing is not a "sport". It is an activity where some demented human finds enjoyment to rob the life of an animal, another living creature, to satisfy for a moment their disgusting murderous, conceeded desires, their thrill to kill. Any auction, any club, any person that promotes, that arouses someone to kill needs to be banned

Delbert Smith

Sue, Not very versed on hunters are you. You say hunt the hunters. Ok, come on here I am find me, but I will defend myself very quickly. Let me explain; I hit my target ever time. I hear things going on in the woods that you will not know is not natural. I am a master at camouflage. I may be hiding in a tree or on the ground. You would never hear the shot. I react quickly, silently, deadly. I shoot short range, I shoot long range at distances from 20 yards to 500 yards. Many of us… Read more »

Grace M Yoxon

The best thing we can do is to make more people aware of what is actually going on so please pass on.


These people are disgusting scum of the earth. This is what is the problem with the world today, when you have the attitude like these people who think they have the right to KILL. SCUM lowlifes.

Wanda Steeves

There are not enough species to kill for fun, if a family lives off the land in Canada, they use every part of the animal, it lives free and dies free, then I'm ok with it.. But murdering for fun, is pathetically overdone, these animals are terrified the last moments of their lives!?

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

hell f*cking yeah…ban this sh*t now!!!

Anne Grice

Human decency would tell anyone with a few brain neurones that this sickening disgusting evil has no place in a civilised world! No excuse for human parasites to exert their abhorrent parasitic sickness on innocent animals just to give them they pleasure which they cant do themselves!!

Grace M Yoxon

And what is worse is that the Safari Club are members of IUCN (the International Union for the CONSERVATION OF NATURE) – what a load of hypocrites IUCN are. Have a look at my post on Linkedin for more info:



@bunnyhugger4eva People wold pay good money to slay that useless piece of

Sue Lesmond

The only good hunter is a dead one.Implement hunt the hunter travel hunting trips.An eye for an eye is most certainly required!


Not if we get to shoot the animal in the T-shirt


Nous avons l’habitude maintenant de voir ces individus poser devant l’animal qu’ils ont abattu, a mon sentiment, juste pour le plaisir.

Pourquoi ne pas en faire autant avec nos chers chasseurs locaux qui posent aussi avec leur victime?

Se serait une autre façon de montrer la réalité de la chasse en Europe.