Sunday, 3 December 2017

Trophy hunting removes 'good genes' and raises extinction risk


By Helen Briggs  BBC News
29 November 2017

Hunting animals that stand out from the crowd because of their impressive horns or lustrous manes could lead to extinction, according to a study.

Research predicts that removing even 5% of high-quality males risks wiping out the entire population, for species under stress in a changing world.

Animals prized by trophy hunters for their horns, antlers or tusks usually have the best genes, say UK scientists.

Removing these could push a species over the edge, they warn.

There is intense global debate over trophy hunting. Some argue that it should be banned or restricted, while others say it can provide valuable revenue for conservation.

Dr Rob Knell of Queen Mary, University of London, who led the research, said the assumption that so-called selective harvesting is not especially threatening to a population of animals does not take into account recent work.

''Because these high-quality males with large secondary sexual traits tend to father a high proportion of the offspring, their 'good genes' can spread rapidly, so populations of strongly sexually selected animals can adapt quickly to new environments,'' he said.


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