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Morgan Mancini
Professor Padgett
English 102
14 April 2016
Trophy Hunting in Sub-Saharan Africa: the Effects on the Economy and Populations of Animals
Trophy hunting or Big Game Hunting is an issue that has been debated for decades, but
has recently been receiving more attention after an American dentist shot and killed a lion by the
name of Cecil in July of 2015. Cecil was a thirteen year old male lion that was shot with an
arrow then tracked, only to be killed forty hours later. Lions are a part of a specific animal group
that is referred to as the Big Five which consists of African lions, elephants, leopards, Cape
buffalo and White and Black rhinos. The Big Five are a very large source of income for many
countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and this financial incentive is a large draw for people to support
trophy hunting in spite of the ethical issues it raises. Despite the fact that big game hunting
brings in large amounts of revenue to the host countries, the money is not used in a way that
benefits animal populations being hunted nor does it benefit the local people and should
therefore be outlawed.
Trophy hunting, also referred to as Big Game Hunting, is currently defined as hunting
that is managed as part of a formal program in which hunters are charged a substantial fee to
hunt an animal with specific trophy characteristics (Fischer 1119). Trophy hunters pay large
sums of money to hunt, kill and often display these animals as trophies. Big Game Hunting
first came about in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when wealthy men traveled to Africa to
take part in hunting safaris. Theodore Roosevelt was a large advocate for the sport and was also a

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conservationist. He once claimed We shot nothing that was not used either as a museum
specimen or for meat. Ernest Hemingway was also an avid hunter, stating that We ate the meat
and kept the hides and horns (Big Game Hunting 1). While decades ago, trophy hunting was
used as a way to obtain food, it is now viewed as sport without putting to use all parts of the
animal that was shot. The skill that used to be required in order to hunt and kill a trophy animal
has, as of late, disappeared due to what is called canned hunting, through which the animal is
kept in a fenced area so that the hunter is guaranteed a kill. What used to be an occasional trip
has turned into a business of stalking and killing animals in order to create a profit.
Trophy hunters often aim for the Big Five due to the fact that they are hardest to hunt,
most dangerous, and have the most valuable trophies (Di Minin 101). According to the
International Union for Conservation of Nature, of the animals that make up the Big Five;
elephants and lions are vulnerable to extinction, white rhinos and leopards are near threatened,
and only buffalo are of the least concern. The black rhino is currently recorded as Critically
Endangered on the Red List of threatened species. These animals populations are at risk, and
the money paid to hunt them is not doing what many claim it does save the populations of the
animals. A popular stance for those supporting trophy hunting is that the fees charged creates
revenue for the host countries. For example, in 2012, the Big Five accounted for $28 million of
the $68 million USD brought into South Africa as revenue (Di Minin 99). This money that is
supposedly used for further conservation efforts and to benefit the locals almost never ends up
doing so. Private sectors are often the ones that benefit from these large fees paid by the hunters.
The money is paid to organizations and it is used for personal gain instead of trickling down to
the locals. According to the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation which is a
pro-hunting organization, only about 3% of revenue from trophy hunting makes it to the local

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communities (Booth 1). Corruption in government can also be a factor when considering where
the funds are allocated. For example in Zimbabwe, people that are associated with President
Mugabe (who is currently president) have taken land that is prime for hunting profits which
results in no benefit or incentive for the locals to curb poaching, and no money for conservation
efforts by organizations looking to preserve the land that the animals reside on. In an interview
conducted by CBS, CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous
Resources) supposedly made over $158,000 in one rural district in a year. The CEO of
CAMPFIRE claimed that the money goes to food programs and infrastructure for the local
community, but when the locals were interviewed, none of them had seen a penny of the money
(Cruise 1).
Supporters of trophy hunting frequently reference the incentives for poachers to tolerate
co-existence with the animals due to increased revenue brought in by trophy hunting. What is not
referenced is the fact that this money, aside from rarely being seen by local communities, must
be substantial in order to have any sort of effect on the community (Fischer). In addition,
poaching can be very profitable in the trading and selling of the trophies. In Tanzania and
Mozambique, elephant products are not allowed to be traded commercially since they are now
considered at risk of extinction. Unfortunately, trophies (tusks, for example) are not considered
commercial products and can therefore still be traded (Cruise 1). In addition, parts of animals
that are poached can be traded illegally, especially in the black market. While perhaps a small
fraction of the revenue made by trophy hunters could be an incentive to decrease the amount of
poaching that occurs, the more profitable trade of these animal parts will always take precedent.
The only way to decrease the amount of poaching that takes place is to increase the number of
anti-poaching rangers, which in turn creates jobs for the locals.

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Increased job opportunities are often used as evidence to support to why trophy hunting
can be beneficial. An article titled The truth about Trophy hunting claims that through each
trophy hunter numerous jobs are made for locals. The animals must be protected prior to the
hunter making a kill, the hunter often requires a guide to help them make the kill, the animal is
then skinned, stuffed etc. It is also customary for the hunters to tip their guides and anyone who
helped them along the way (The truth about Trophy hunting 1). Although these jobs do exist,
they pale in comparison to the jobs that could be created in regards to the protection of the
wildlife if Big Game hunting was outlawed. Poaching would be a concern, therefore it would be
necessary to increase the amount of anti-poaching rangers. In addition the increase in ecotourism
would provide job opportunities for guides, photographers, etc. In Kenya, where Big Game
hunting is currently banned, poaching has actually declined in Kenya over the last two years.
South Africa saw similar results as the number of rhinos poached decreased last year for the first
time since 2008 (IUCN). Those who are pro-trophy hunting often make the claim that blanket
bans would decrease populations due to poaching, but this has been negated through the trial of
such a ban in Kenya.
In hunting for the Big Five, trophy hunters aim to kill the largest, strongest animal with
the most impressive trophies. In doing so, they are interfering with the process of natural
selection. Instead of killing the sick animals or those who are unable to reproduce, they are
taking the lives of the animals that serve as protectors, mentors, reproducers and teachers. The
restrictions on age, size, location where the animals are shot, the sex of the animals and the
season in which the animal may be hunted, are rather lax in many countries. For lions, there are
no restrictions on season, minimum age or size in Zimbabwe just like in many other countries
(Lindsey). Even in countries that do have restrictions on age and such like Tanzania, the penalties

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for killing an animal that does not meet the age requirement are lacking. In Tanzania the age
limit to kill a lion in six years old. If a hunter brings a lion four or five years old, they are still
acceptedonly with a small penalty. If the lion is younger than four years of age, they are not
accepted, and a penalty is given to the hunter (Lindsey 9). This lack of intervention by the
government allows for declines in populations that could be avoided by the mere implementation
of severe restrictions or even better - bans on trophy hunting.
Ecotourism is predicted to be one of the largest up and coming sources of tourism to subSaharan Africa in the third millennium (Marin 191). Ecotourism brings in large sums of money
to host countries, yet does not contribute to the decline of the wildlife populations. If the focus
on wildlife in Africa was merely observation and not hunting, not only would the populations
prosper, but so would the economy.
Tanzania currently holds 30-50% of Africas remaining lions, and is the most popular
destination for hunting of both lions as well as leopards (Packer 146). It is estimated that about a
century ago Africa was inhabited by some 200,000 lions, while now there is only roughly 30,000
(Big Game Hunting 1). In Tanzania, the elephant population is currently around 43,000 which is
a 60% decrease from 110,000 in 2009. In Zimbabwe, this same time period has resulted in a
decline in elephant population from 20,000 to 10,300 (Cruise 1). These numbers are not only a
result of trophy hunting, but also poaching, illegal trade, and reduction of land area on which the
animals are able to live. At this rate of population decline, the animals that are primarily hunted,
will soon be critically endangered if not extinct.
Aside from the economic incentives for trophy hunting to be banned, there is a large
ethical issue that arises. Animals are not able to advocate for themselves, and therefore rely on
humans to do so for them. Without advocates for them, they will quickly become extinct due to a

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lack of empathy for the animal and a sole interest in financial prosperity. All animals have
cognitive abilities, and that is inarguable. The MSR (Mirror Self-Recognition) test is used to
indicate if an animal has the ability to be self-conscious. Elephants in the Bronx Zoo were given
the MSR test, and passed all four levels, successfully passing the test, thus proving that they
were self-aware. When a white cross was placed on the elephants heads and a mirror was placed
in their enclosure, they showed that they recognized themselves when they touched the cross
with their trunks various times. In addition, elephants are known for showing grief when one dies
through burials and rituals (Bradshaw 5). These animals are not prizes to be won, nor should they
be treated as such. The use of these animals in the circus proves cognitive abilities, and their
rights should not be ignored. The pleasure that trophy hunters obtain from the kill is not reason
enough for the suffering that the animals endure. What is seen as sport to a hunter is actually life
to the animal, and humans should not be able to stalk and then take the life of an innocent animal
that has a family just as the humans hunting them do.
Though trophy hunting in Sub-Saharan Africa is still legal in many places, the increased
attention on the issue is helping to inform people of the downfalls of Big Game Hunting. As we
continue to make progress in this matter, the impact that humans have on these animals will
hopefully be lessened. Bans on trophy hunting would undoubtedly benefit not only the
populations of the wildlife, but also the economy of the host countries. Money brought in
through ecotourism will continue to provide financial stability to the local communities as well
as the government. The population of the animals will also be able to steadily increase, and
natural occurrences will weed out the weakest links in the populations. These animals will be
able to live in peace without the prospect of being stalked, shot and killed by wealthy tourists
that decide one living animals life is worth any less than another. The more people are educated

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on the topic, the bigger the change to be made. Instead of shooting an animal, we should be
shooting a photo.

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Works Cited
Big Game Hunting. Issues & Controversies. Infobase Learning, 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 27 Jan.
2016. <>.
Booth, Vernon R. Contribution of Wildlife to National Economies. Budakeszi: CIC, 2010. CIC
International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation and FAO Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Bradshaw, G. A. Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity. New Haven:
Yale UP, 2009. Print.
Cruise, Adam. "Is Trophy Hunting Helping Save African Elephants?" National Geographic.

Di Minin, Enrico, Nigel Leader-Williams, and Corey J.A. Bradshaw. "Banning Trophy Hunting
Will Exacerbate Biodiversity Loss." Trends In Ecology & Evolution 31.2 (2016): 99102. Academic Search Complete. Web. 24 Feb. 2016.
Fischer, A., Tibebe Weldesemaet, Y., Czajkowski, M., Tadie, D. and Hanley, N. (2015), Trophy
hunters willingness to pay for wildlife conservation and community benefits.
Conservation Biology, 29: 11111121.
"IUCN Reports Deepening Rhino Poaching Crisis in Africa." IUCN, the International Union for
Conservation of Nature. International News Release, 9 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
Lindsey, Peter A., et al. "Trophy Hunting And Conservation In Africa: Problems And One
Potential Solution." Conservation Biology 21.3 (2007): 880-883. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

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Lindsey, Peter Andrew, et al. "The Trophy Hunting Of African Lions: Scale, Current
Management Practices And Factors Undermining Sustainability." Plos ONE 8.9 (2013):
1-11. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
Marin, Diana, et al. "Consumer Profile Of Hunting Tourism." Scientific Papers: Animal Science
& Biotechnologies / Lucrari Stiintifice: Zootehnie Si Biotehnologii 48.2 (2015): 191-194.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
PACKER, C., BRINK, H., KISSUI, B. M., MALITI, H., KUSHNIR, H. and CARO, T. (2011),
Effects of Trophy Hunting on Lion and Leopard Populations in Tanzania. Conservation
Biology, 25: 142153.
"The truth about Trophy hunting." Sports & Recreation Examiner (USA) 3 Aug. 2015, Hunting
& Fishing. NewsBank. Web. 7 Feb. 2016.