Sunday 1 September 2019

Banning trophy hunting can have a detrimental impact, experts say

AUGUST 30, 2019

Experts have outlined "compelling evidence" that suggests banning trophy hunting can negatively affect conservation—arguing that unregulated killings are far more prevalent in non-hunting zones.

More than 130 international scientists—including two from the University of Stirling—say that certain species, such as lions, do not fare well in areas where bans are enforced.

In a letter published in the journal Science, they say that, in African countries that do allow trophy hunting, "more land has been conserved than under National Parks"; and that regulated hunting has boosted wildlife populations globally, including those of rhinos, markhor, argali, bighorn sheep, and many African ungulates.

The authors acknowledge that, if poorly managed, trophy hunting can cause local population declines and admit that there is "considerable room for improvement." However, they add: "Unless better land-use alternatives exist, hunting reforms—which have proved effective—should be prioritized over bans."

Professor Nils Bunnefeld and Dr. Jeremy Cusack, both of Stirling's Faculty of Natural Sciences, are signatories on the letter. Stirling has been involved in interdisciplinary research related to trophy hunting for more than 10 years, with a focus on the complex link between social, economic and ecological dynamics and drivers when aiming to achieve sustainable trophy hunting.

Professor Bunnefeld said: "In order to make decisions on trophy hunting, we need to have a holistic view and assess the evidence from a variety of angles including social, economic and ecosystem perspective. Trophy hunting, when well managed, can have positive effects on both wildlife populations and people's livelihoods."

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