The big debate: Is it time to kill off trophy hunting?

The big debate: Is it time to kill off trophy hunting?

Advocates of trophy hunting like to argue that the funds raised are vital for conservation. Yet an image of a gurning businessman with his foot on a prostrate elephant sends a message so anti-conservation it could practically serve as the logo.

Optics matter, as those posting their trophy shots understand; it’s not important whether they’re a great hunter, just that they look like one. And the exploitative, neocolonialist overtones in this objectionable practice, like the carcass of an inexpertly killed creature lying in the African sun, positively reek.

Trophy hunting is justified as a revenue-raiser, but it can also be economically destructive, snuffing out its more palatable, sustainable alternative: photo tourism. There were renewed calls for boycotts of Botswana last week by those sickened by the sight of the slaughtered tusker.

The same happened in Zimbabwe in 2015 when 15-year-old Cecil, a totem of tourism, was shot by a dentist with a glorified bow and arrow, to be finished off 12 agonising hours later. As one Times commenter put it last week: “I’m now considering cancelling a £12,000 holiday to Botswana. Maybe the government can put that in their business case.”

We hear that trophy hunting isn’t driving any species to extinction, like that’s a benchmark to aspire to. Or, from the hunters themselves — soppy altruists that they are — that their funds are doing good for local communities. So why not pay that community $50,000, shoot the beast with a camera and let it continue on its way luring and enthralling countless others?

Lead Image: Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania – GETTY IMAGES.

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