Threats Facing Big Cats



Threats Facing Local Economies



Collection of videos on wildlife and habitat conservation




3669 studies, papers, articles on trophy hunting



478 studies, papers, articles on trophy hunting




Hunting Lions: Unpalatable but Necessary for Conservation?

Normally, I would be among those applauding. Shooting a big cat in the name of “sport” nauseates me, and I’ve spent a career working to conserve the world’s great cats.

But that does not mean that all hunting is necessarily bad for lions. Just as strong, empirical science has shown that over-hunting is bad for lions, it also demonstrates that hunting can be sustainable.



Why some African nations don’t want trophy hunting to go away

While much of the world has been caught up in the death of the iconic Zimbabwean lion Cecil, a slightly different conversation is happening elsewhere on the continent of Africa.

Officials in South Africa and Namibia are asking to world to hold on just one second with the outrage — and actions — against trophy hunting.

“This will be the end of conservation in Namibia,” said Namibia’s environment and tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta, according to the Namibia Press Agency and the Associated Press.



Before You Criticize Trump’s Support for Wildlife Trophy Hunting in Africa

“Zimbabwe is on its knees because of economic downturn, yet the international community expects our poor country to look after elephants and lions when we can’t even feed our nation,” said Victor Muposhi, a zoologist at Chinhoyi University of Technology in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe told the New York Times.

“No one is coming to the table to say, ‘Yes, we want you to stop this hunting, but here is a budget and an alternative plan you can follow instead.’” He added.



A Trophy Hunt That’s Good for Rhinos

Namibia is just about the only place on earth to have gotten conservation right for rhinos and, incidentally, a lot of other wildlife. Over the past 20 years, it has methodically repopulated one area after another as its rhino population has steadily increased. As a result, it is now home to 1,750 of the roughly 5,000 black rhinos surviving in the wild. (The worldwide population of Africa’s two rhino species, black and the more numerous white, plus three species in Asia, is about 28,000.) In neighboring South Africa, government officials stood by haplessly as poachers slaughtered almost a thousand rhinos last year alone. Namibia lost just two.



Saving Lions by Killing Them

ODD as it may sound, American trophy hunters play a critical role in protecting wildlife in Tanzania. The millions of dollars that hunters spend to go on safari here each year help finance the game reserves, wildlife management areas and conservation efforts in our rapidly growing country.

This is why we are alarmed that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the African lion as endangered. Doing so would make it illegal for American hunters to bring their trophies home. Those hunters constitute 60 percent of our trophy-hunting market, and losing them would be disastrous to our conservation efforts.



A Hunting Ban Saps a Village’s Livelihood

SANKUYO, Botswana — Lions have been coming out of the surrounding bush, prowling around homes and a small health clinic, to snatch goats and donkeys from the heart of this village on the edge of one of Africa’s great inland deltas. Elephants, too, are becoming frequent, unwelcome visitors, gobbling up the beans, maize and watermelons that took farmers months to grow.

Since Botswana banned trophy hunting two years ago, remote communities like Sankuyo have been at the mercy of growing numbers of wild animals that are hurting livelihoods and driving terrified villagers into their homes at dusk.

The hunting ban has also meant a precipitous drop in income. Over the years, villagers had used money from trophy hunters, mostly Americans, to install toilets and water pipes, build houses for the poorest, and give scholarships to the young and pensions to the old.

“We are living in fear since lions and leopards now come into our village,” he said. “Elephants cross the village to go to the other side of the bush. The dogs bark at them. We just run into our houses and hide.”



To protect a rare Central Asian goat—and the snow leopards that depend on it—conservationists are turning to an unlikely ally: trophy hunters.

Trophy hunting is often portrayed as the worst sort of human entitlement, a way for extremely privileged white men—and, indeed, they typically are all three—to assert their dominance. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, has called the practice “cruel, self-aggrandizing, larcenous, and shameful.” Jimmy Kimmel called it “vomitous” in a televised monologue in 2015.

But as I traveled along the same roads several months after Campbell’s journey, I learned that wealthy hunters like him are the main reason that Bukharan markhor still exist at all—despite how uncomfortable that truth may be. In specific cases—as even some conservation groups attest—trophy hunting can be an invaluable tool for protecting species and the ecosystems they rely upon.



Why allowing trophy hunting is good for endangered species

The success that South Africa and other African countries have enjoyed with sustaining wild-animal populations via property rights has led several conservation organizations, including Save the Rhino and the World Wildlife Fund, to endorse such rights and supervised hunting as a strategy for preserving biodiversity.



Can trophy hunting actually help conservation?

In a 2011 letter to Science magazine, Leader-Williams also pointed out that the implementation of controlled, legalized hunting was also beneficial for Zimbabwe’s elephants. “Implementing trophy hunting has doubled the area of the country under wildlife management relative to the 13% in state protected areas,” thanks to the inclusion of private lands, he says. “As a result, the area of suitable land available to elephants and other wildlife has increased, reversing the problem of habitat loss and helping to maintain a sustained population increase in Zimbabwe’s already large elephant population.”



Can hunting endangered animals save the species?

Some exotic animal species that are endangered in Africa are thriving on ranches in Texas, where a limited number are hunted for a high price. Ranchers say they need the income to care for the rest of the herd. Animal rights activists want the hunting to end.



Trophy Hunting: Should We Kill Animals to Save Them?

For some, the hunting-antihunting debate boils down to Western environmentalists trying to dictate their agenda to Africa—a form of neocolonialism, as Marnewecke puts it. “Who gives anybody the right, sitting in another continent, to preach to us how we should manage our wildlife?” Hunters make the point that with all the outfitters paying to operate in conservancies and with trophy hunters paying fees for the game they shoot, hunting indeed has made significant financial contributions to the continent, and to habitat protection, while all that antihunting forces have done is make noise.

Without trophy hunting, Illum-Berg argues, there would be no antipoaching there, no management. “I keep on saying: Give me a better idea than hunting as long as it’s sustainable.” She adds, “The big question in the end is, ‘Who’s going to pay for the party?’



All Roars Lead to Conservation

We sit down and watch this wild goat, representing a species that not so long ago was speeding towards extinction, with poachers and illegal trophy hunters in the driver’s seat. Now studies show that since establishing conservancies in the range of the Tajik markhor, the local hunters have been able to help the population increase by managing sustainable subsistence and trophy hunting and tourism in the area.



Ecologist responds to article against trophy hunting

The difference in views on trophy hunting between the western urban elite and that of the people of rural Africa is stark. In a recent letter to the Guardian, a group of public figures in the UK described trophy hunting as “cruel, immoral, archaic and unjustifiable” and called for an end to global trophy hunting. In much of Africa, rural communities see all forms of sustainable hunting as legitimate use of their indigenous resources, in much the same way as western nations consider it their right to harvest fish, timber, deer, and use other natural resources for their livelihoods and economic growth. So, what is really behind the call for a ban on the import of wildlife trophies into the UK?



Zoo comments on trophy ban reversal

“Lifting the ban on imported elephant trophies is only a part of this conversation. The real issue is the global epidemic of wildlife poaching and trafficking. This discussion should shift to the reality that elephants are being lost at 96 individuals PER DAY in Africa.

“Regarding the ban, at the N.C. Zoo we can see both sides of this issue.

“It is a long-accepted method to manage wild populations through hunting in exchange for fees that can be used to support and sustain healthy populations. A good example in our country is deer hunting. Not everyone agrees with hunting, but it is a standard population management method.

“However, it is a different situation when a species is threatened with extinction, such as the elephant. The reversal of this ban does little to solve the real crisis as stated before — the global epidemic of wildlife poaching and trafficking.



Trophy hunting is not poaching and can help conserve wildlife

Not all forms of wildlife killing are the same, and we must be careful to ensure the differences are understood. It’s easy for Westerners to jump to conclusions about wildlife management, to see a picture of a dead lion and suppose any form of killing to be wrong. But if we take a step back and see the big picture about how these communities – isolated, poor – have to live with dangerous animals such as elephants and lions, we must understand that the picture is far more complex. Indeed, as the Namibian example has shown, carefully managed trophy hunting may be one way to reduce poaching of wildlife.



Big game hunters: We’re the answer to preventing extinction

He said the money goes directly to fund conservation activities, water for wildlife, anti-poaching operations, equipment for the community and research. Ndokosho said the funds protect the wildlife and help improve the livelihood of the Namibian people. He said since 2015, levels of rhino poaching in his country have declined.

Frans Kamenye, the fund manager for Namibia’s Game Products Trust Fund, said the $350,000 raised from Knowlton’s 2015 hunt was used to buy ten Land Cruisers, an air patrol boat, four amphibian eight-wheel vehicles, and gasoline — all key resources that are used by anti-poaching task forces.

“In Namibia, hunting is something that we need. Otherwise, we have seen many countries where there is no hunting, it’s failing because there are no resources,” Kamenye told CNN.

He said the money goes directly to fund conservation activities, water for wildlife, anti-poaching operations, equipment for the community and research.

Ndokosho said the funds protect the wildlife and help improve the livelihood of the Namibian people. He said since 2015, levels of rhino poaching in his country have declined.

Frans Kamenye, the fund manager for Namibia’s Game Products Trust Fund, said the $350,000 raised from Knowlton’s 2015 hunt was used to buy ten Land Cruisers, an air patrol boat, four amphibian eight-wheel vehicles, and gasoline — all key resources that are used by anti-poaching task forces.



Banning trophy hunting imports won’t save the world’s wildlife

Trophy hunting is a red herring.

Don’t get me wrong, trophy hunting is morally repugnant. I cannot understand why anyone would want to kill an animal for fun – just as I can’t understand why anyone with other dining options would eat an animal, as we don’t need meat to survive.

Ethically, it makes sense to ban trophy hunting imports if the goal is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of animals. But there are issues with this line of reasoning.

Habitat loss, where land is converted for human use, remains the biggest driver of wildlife declines. Hunting reserves retain natural land for the benefit of trophy species like zebras and impalas, as well as a whole host of other biodiversity, such as birds, plants, insects and small mammals.

In effect, trophy animals become martyrs killed so other wild animals can benefit from the ever-dwindling resource of land.

By diverting attention from these more pressing causes of wildlife decline by focusing on banning trophy imports, we may be left patting ourselves on the back and thinking that we’ve done our part for conservation and can all go home. I wish conservation needed such an easy fix, but sadly that is not the case.



Big game hunting and the nature of the beast

It would seem that the best thing to do would be to banish the sport all-together. But sadly this would have a devastating effect. Botswanana has decided to ban hunting wild game for sport from January 2014, but this decision could be disastrous. Hunting was banned in Kenya in the late 1970s, and since then the State has lost 85% of its wildlife. Kenya continues to have a huge game poaching problem, to the extent that some of their species face total extinction. Also, there is corruption in the reservation and national park industries, where officials allow poachers access to supplement their income.



South Africa Poaching Epidemic

Home to 80% of the planet’s rhino population, South Africa is currently experiencing a poaching epidemic. Last week, South Africa’s environment minister revealed that a record 393 animals were killed in the country’s Kruger National Park between January and April of this year. The animals’ horns fetch a high price – $65,000 for just over 2lb – in markets such as China and Vietnam, where rhino horn is an ingredient in traditional medicines. Illegal rhino killings increased 20% in 2014, with 1,215 rhinos dead.



As poaching heats up, conservationists advocate sending South Africa rhinos to Texas

In an effort to ease the killings of three to five rhinos per week in South Africa, one Texas-based conservation organization is seeking to transport 1,000 orphaned white rhinos from South Africa to safe havens in South Texas.

The Exotic Wildlife Association, along with, is negotiating an agreement with South Africa officials to remove the rhinos, which are highly sought after for their horns.

In a country whose residents average an annual income of $1,700, a rhino horn’s value of more than $360,000 is a driving force in illegal trade, said Charly Seale, executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association.

“In the current rate that they’re going, the white rhino will not exist in South Africa in the next five years,” Seale said. “If you cannot remove the danger from the animal, then you remove the animal from the danger.”



Poaching in South Africa at Record Levels

In the first four months of 2015, 393 rhinos were killed, with most taken in the Kruger national park, says environment minister.

A total of 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014, compared with 1,004 in 2013, 668 in 2012 and 448 in 2011.

The numbers began surging in 2008, when 83 rhinos were killed. The year before that just 13 animals were poached.





Preventing Wildlife Crimes: Solutions That Can Overcome the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’

The ‘tragedy of the commons’ dilemma occurs when individuals working independently of one another, will overuse a common-property resource for short-term benefits while decimating the resource for long-term use (Hardin 1968). This is often found in the field of wildlife crimes where species become overexploited to increase short-term profits while endangering and eliminating a natural resource for future users.



International conference on illegal wildlife trade (IWT) in London October 2018

The illegal wildlife trade is an urgent global issue, which not only threatens some of the world’s most iconic species with extinction, but also damages sustainable economic growth and the livelihoods of vulnerable people in rural communities. It’s worth up to £17 billion per year and is the fourth most lucrative transnational crime after drugs, weapons and human trafficking. The criminals who run this trade do more than damage wildlife – they use networks of corrupt officials and agencies to undermine sustainable development and the rule of law, damaging the livelihood and growth of local communities.

Much has been achieved since the London 2014 conference, but there is more to do. Urgent, united action by the international community is vital to tackle illegal trade and end wildlife crime.



The biggest threat to African lions isn’t trophy hunters, it’s their lack of value to local people

Public outcry flooded social media when Cecil the lion’s son, Xanda, was killed by a hunter in Zimbabwe in July, meeting the same fate as his father a year before. Big game trophy hunting is one of the most widely reviled threats to the lion population, and consequently one of the most discussed. However, the biggest single threat to the future of wild big cats is not trophy hunting. It is direct, everyday conflict with humans. An issue that has not yet captured public consciousness in the same way.

In 2011, 37 lions were killed in the area around a single village. That’s the equivalent of half the wild lions lost to trophy killings across the whole of Africa, in a year.



Provisioning of Game Meat to Rural Communities as a Benefit of Sport Hunting in Zambia


Sport hunting has reportedly multiple benefits to economies and local communities; however, few of these benefits have been quantified. As part of their lease agreements with the Zambia Wildlife Authority, sport hunting operators in Zambia are required to provide annually to local communities free of charge i.e., provision a percentage of the meat obtained through sport hunting. We characterized provisioning of game meat to rural communities by the sport hunting industry in Zambia for three game management areas (GMAs) during 2004–2011. Rural communities located within GMAs where sport hunting occurred received on average > 6,000 kgs per GMA of fresh game meat annually from hunting operators. To assess hunting industry compliance, we also compared the amount of meat expected as per the lease agreements versus observed amounts of meat provisioned from three GMAs during 2007–2009. In seven of eight annual comparisons of these GMAs, provisioning of meat exceeded what was required in the lease agreements. Provisioning occurred throughout the hunting season and peaked during the end of the dry season (September–October) coincident with when rural Zambians are most likely to encounter food shortages. We extrapolated our results across all GMAs and estimated 129,771 kgs of fresh game meat provisioned annually by the sport hunting industry to rural communities in Zambia at an approximate value for the meat alone of >US$600,000 exclusive of distribution costs. During the hunting moratorium (2013–2014), this supply of meat has halted, likely adversely affecting rural communities previously reliant on this food source. Proposed alternatives to sport hunting should consider protein provisioning in addition to other benefits (e.g., employment, community pledges, anti-poaching funds) that rural Zambian communities receive from the sport hunting industry.



Economic and conservation significance of the trophy hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa

Trophy hunting is thus of major importance to conservation in Africa by creating economic incentives for conservation over vast areas, including areas which may be unsuitable for alternative wildlife-based land uses such as photographic ecotourism.



Potential of trophy hunting to create incentives for wildlife conservation in Africa where alternative wildlife-based land uses may not be viable

Client preferences confirm that trophy hunting represents a potentially viable land use under conditions that are un-suitable for ecotourism (Wilkie & Carpenter, 1999a; Leader-Williams & Hutton, 2005). For example, most clients are willing to hunt in Zimbabwe at present, supporting the suggestion that trophy hunting is relatively resilient to political instability (Leader-Williams & Hutton, 2005). In the first year of the Zimbabwean land seizures, the tourism industry shrank by 75%, compared with a drop of 12% in hunting revenues (Booth, 2002; Bondet al., 2004). Likewise, trophy hunting continues in parts of Central Africa (e.g. in CAR) that are probably too insecure and remote for successful ecotourism (Wilkie & Carpenter, 1999b). Most clients are willing to hunt in areas lacking high densities of viewable wildlife, and those inhabited by local people and livestock, confirming the potential for trophy hunting to generate incentives for conservation on communally owned lands. Because clients are willing to hunt in areas with depleted wildlife populations, and because trophy hunting requires only limited off-take of populations, hunting revenues can play a potentially important role in habitat rehabilitation and community development. For example, trophy hunting provides a key entry point into wildlife ranching for livestock farmers in southern Africa (Bondet al., 2004), and in Mozambique revenues from trophy hunting are helping to rehabilitate the Coutada hunting areas that were depleted during the civil war (Hattonet al.,2001).



Lions, trophy hunting and beyond: Knowledge gaps and why they matter

Mortality due to conflict with local people may be orders of magnitude greater than that due to international trophy hunters: in Tanzania’s Ruaha landscape, at least 37 lions were killed in 2011 due to conflict, in an area of less than 500 km2, making the offtake over 100 times higher than the recommended maximum offtake for a trophy hunting area (Dickman in prep.).



Trophy Hunting, Conservation, and Rural Development in Zimbabwe: Issues, Options, and Implications

Trophy hunting has potential to support conservation financing and contribute towards rural development. We conducted a systematic review of the Zimbabwean trophy hunting perspective spanning from pre-1890 to 2015, by examining the following: (1) evolution of legal instruments, administration, and governance of trophy hunting, (2) significance of trophy hunting in conservation financing and rural development, and (3) key challenges, emerging issues in trophy hunting industry, and future interventions. Our review shows that (i) there has been a constant evolution in the policies related to trophy hunting and conservation in Zimbabwe as driven by local and international needs; (ii) trophy hunting providing incentives for wildlife conservation (e.g., law enforcement and habitat protection) and rural communities’ development. Emerging issues that may affect trophy hunting include illegal hunting, inadequate monitoring systems, and hunting bans. We conclude that trophy hunting is still relevant in wildlife conservation and rural communities’ development especially in developing economies where conservation financing is inadequate due to fiscal constraints. We recommend the promotion of net conservation benefits for positive conservation efforts and use of wildlife conservation credits for the opportunity costs associated with reducing trophy hunting off-take levels and promoting non-consumptive wildlife use options.



Trophy hunters’ willingness to pay for wildlife conservation and community benefits 

We investigated the conditions under which trophy hunting could facilitate wildlife conservation in Ethiopia ex ante. We used a choice experiment approach to survey international trophy hunters’ (n = 224) preferences for trips to Ethiopia, here operationalized as trade‐offs between different attributes of a hunting package, as expressed through choices with an associated willingness to pay. Participants expressed strong preferences and, consequently, were willing to pay substantial premiums for hunting trips to areas with abundant nontarget wildlife where domestic livestock was absent and for arrangements that offered benefit sharing with local communities. For example, within the range of percentages considered in the survey, respondents were on average willing to pay an additional $3900 for every 10 percentage points of the revenue being given to local communities. By contrast, respondents were less supportive of hunting revenue being retained by governmental bodies: Willingness to pay decreased by $1900 for every 10 percentage points of the revenue given to government.



Under what circumstances can wildlife farming benefit species conservation?


Wild animals and their derivatives are traded worldwide. Consequent poaching has been a main threat to species conservation. As current interventions and law enforcement cannot circumvent the resulting extinction of species, an alternative approach must be considered. It has been suggested that commercial breeding can keep the pressure off wild populations, referred to as wildlife farming. During this review, it is argued that wildlife farming can benefit species conservation only if the following criteria are met: (i) the legal products will form a substitute, and consumers show no preference for wild-caught animals; (ii) a substantial part of the demand is met, and the demand does not increase due to the legalized market; (iii) the legal products will be more cost-efficient, in order to combat the black market prices; (iv) wildlife farming does not rely on wild populations for re-stocking; (v) laundering of illegal products into the commercial trade is absent. For most species encountered in the wildlife trade, these criteria are unlikely to be met in reality and commercial breeding has the potential to have the opposite effect to what is desired for conservation. For some species, however, none of the criteria are violated, and wildlife farming can be considered a possible conservation tool as it may help to take the pressure off wild populations. For these species, future research should focus on the impact of legal products on the market dynamics, effective law enforcement that can prevent corruption, and wildlife forensics that enable the distinction between captive-bred and wild-caught species.



Case Study: Hunting bans may undermine conservation objectives


Drawing on analytical tools from evolutionary institutional economics, this article examines the trajectory of African hunting regulation and its consequences. Concepts of institutional dynamics, fit, scale, and interplay are applied to case studies of rhinoceros and lion hunting to highlight issues of significance to conservation outcomes. These include important links between different forms of hunting and dynamic interplay with institutions of trade. The case studies reveal that inappropriate formal regulatory approaches may be undermined by adaptive informal market responses. Poorly regulated hunting may lead to calls for stricter regulations or bans, but such legal restrictions may in turn perversely lead to more intensified and organised illegal hunting activity, further undermining conservation objectives.



Effects of the safari hunting tourism ban on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana


This paper examines the effects of the safari hunting ban of 2014 on rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Northern Botswana using the social exchange theory. The paper used both primary and secondary data sources. Data were analysed qualitatively. Results indicate that the ban led to a reduction of tourism benefits to local communities such as: income, employment opportunities, social services such as funeral insurance, scholarships and income required to make provision of housing for the needy and elderly.  

After the hunting ban, communities were forced to shift from hunting to photographic tourism. Reduced tourism benefits have led to the development of negative attitudes by rural residents towards wildlife conservation and the increase in incidents of poaching in Northern Botswana. The implications of hunting ban suggest that policy shifts that affect wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods need to be informed by socio-economic and ecological research. This participatory and scientific approach to decision-making has the potential to contribute sustainability of livelihoods and wildlife conservation in Botswana.




Urgent and Comprehensive reform of trophy hunting of lions is a better option than an endangered listing; A science-based concencious

The human population in Africa is growing rapidly, and key threats to wildlife conservation include competition for land, human encroachment of wildlife areas and the illegal bushmeat trade. Trophy hunting has potential to play an important role for conservation in Africa by providing a basis for governments to justify the retention of large blocks of state land for wildlife (in addition to fully protected parks) and in driving a shift in land use from livestock to wildlife ranching on private and communal land. A significant proportion of the land where trophy hunting occurs is unlikely to be viable for alternative wildlife-based land uses such as photo-or ecotourism due to remoteness, lack of infrastructure including integration in established tourism circuits, lack of spectacular scenery or lack of high densities of viewable wildlife (Norton-Griffiths, 2007).In addition, relying too heavily on ecotourism is risky because it is highly susceptible to political instability (Lindsey et al., 2006).



Trophy Hunting and Lion Conservation: A Question of Governance?

Trophy hunting is most beneficial to lion conservation where revenues and user rights over wildlife are devolved, ensuring benefits from lion hunting compensate for their costs to local people, and where hunting is managed through long-term and competitively allocated concession systems. Policy interventions should focus on supporting trophy hunting as a conservation tool where it is effective and well-managed, and work to promote reform of hunting and wildlife governance elsewhere.


NORTHWEST UNIVERSITY – School of Economics

The Economic Impact of Hunting: A Regional Approach

This article compared the economic impact and significance of hunting from the regional perspective of three key hunting provinces in South Africa, Limpopo, the Northern Cape and the Free State. The findings of the research will contribute to policy formulation, especially for government decisions regarding what products to offer where, and how to create more jobs, as the research confirms that hunting is an activity that generates significant amounts of money and employment.

 Limitations of the research are the following: a lack of comprehensive data regarding “other expenditure”, such as the cost fortravel partners of trophy hunters, as numerous overseas hunters are accompanied by their partners. If this data were available, it would almost certainly have contributed to a higher overall impact by hunting.



Sorting Fact from Fiction

Data on the economic significance and conservation benefits of hunting in African countries is limited and polarises a fractious debate. This fact sheet provides an overview of the available research.

  1. Economic and conservation significance of the trophy hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa (Biological Conservation)
  2. The $200-million question: How much does trophy hunting really contribute to African communities (Economists at Large)
  3. Contribution of wildlife to national economies (CIC Technical Series Publication)
  4. Economic returns and allocation of resources in the wildlife sector of Botswana (South African Journal of Wildlife Research)
  5. Big game hunting in West Africa: What is its contribution to conservation? (IUCN)
  6. Opinion: Hunting narrative tarnishes a vital industry (Business Day)
  7. Opinion: The great trophy hunting debate (Africa Geographic)
  8. Opinion: Is trophy hunting really sustainable? (Daily Maverick)
  9. Opinion: Cecil the lion: Lessons in misplaced outrage (Daily Maverick)



Mpala Research Centre, Nanyuki, Kenya

Potential of trophy hunting to create incentives for wildlife conservation in Africa where alternative wildlife-based land uses may not be viable

There is a lack of consensus among conservationists as to whether trophy hunting represents a legitimate conservation tool in Africa. Hunting advocates stress that trophy hunting can create incentives for conservation where ecotourism is not possible. We assessed the hunting preferences of hunting clients who have hunted or plan to hunt in Africa (n=150), and the perception among African hunting operators (n=127) of client preferences at two US hunting conventions to determine whether this assertion is justified. Clients are most interested in hunting in well-known East and southern African hunting destinations, but some trophy species attract hunters to remote and unstable countries that might not otherwise derive revenues from hunting. Clients are willing to hunt in areas lacking high densities of wildlife or attractive scenery, and where people and livestock occur, stressing the potential for trophy hunting to generate revenues where ecotourism may not be viable. Hunting clients are more averse to hunting under conditions whereby conservation objectives are compromised than operators realize, suggesting that client preferences could potentially drive positive change in the hunting industry, to the benefit of conservation. However, the preferences and attitudes of some clients likely form the basis of some of the problems currently associated with the hunting industry in Africa, stressing the need for an effective regulatory framework.


Mikolaj Czajkowski

Head of Chair of Microeconomics

Trophy hunting for wildlife conservation? On sport hunters’ willingness to pay for conservation and community benefits

Trophy hunting, in the past, has been seen as a threat to wildlife populations, e.g., rhino, elephant. But given the scale of habitat change, it is now being seen as potentially able to contribute positively to achieving conservation goals. Trophy hunting can provide economic incentive for local people to invest in conservation of target species and their habitats.


Extreme Wildlife Declines and Concurrent Increase in Livestock Numbers in Kenya

What Are the Causes?


There is growing evidence of escalating wildlife losses worldwide. Extreme wildlife losses have recently been documented for large parts of Africa, including western, Central and Eastern Africa. Here, we report extreme declines in wildlife and contemporaneous increase in livestock numbers in Kenya rangelands between 1977 and 2016.

The declines raise very grave concerns about the future of wildlife, the effectiveness of wildlife conservation policies, strategies and practices in Kenya. Causes of the wildlife declines include exponential human population growth, increasing livestock numbers, declining rainfall and a striking rise in temperatures but the fundamental cause seems to be policy, institutional and market failures.

Accordingly, we thoroughly evaluate wildlife conservation policy in Kenya. We suggest policy, institutional and management interventions likely to succeed in reducing the declines and restoring rangeland health, most notably through strengthening and investing in community and private wildlife conservancies for hunting in the rangelands.




Sustainable Hunting: A Guide to Best Practices from Around the World

  • Dr Rosie Cooney isChair of the IUCN SSC/CEESP Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group and Visiting Fellow in the School of Biology
  • Fred Nelson is Executive Director of Maliasili, a non-profit organisation that supports leading African conservation organisations

No country embodies these tenets better than Namibia, where innovative models for conservation developed over the past 30 years have restored wildlife on a remarkable scale. Namibia’s wildlife laws enable local communities to create conservancies, which give communities rights over wildlife use and management in their area. This provides the basis for these conservancies to enter into agreements with tourism or trophy hunting operators, which pay the conservancies directly through joint ventures or concession lease arrangements.

Over 80 such conservancies have been created, covering about 16 million hectares – an area larger than all of Greece. These conservancies now earn nearly $10 million annually from tourism and hunting, making wildlife a growing component of the country’s rural economy and creating incentives for rural communities to tolerate wildlife. Elephant numbers nationwide in Namibia have tripled since 1990 and the country has Africa’s largest population of black rhinos on community lands. 



Habitat loss is probably the greatest threat to the variety of life on this planet today.

It is identified as a main threat to 85% of all species described in the IUCN’s Red List (those species officially classified as “Threatened” and “Endangered”). Increasing food production is a major agent for the conversion of natural habitat into agricultural land. Forest loss and degradation is mostly caused by the expansion of agricultural land, intensive harvesting of timber, wood for fuel and other forest products, as well as overgrazing.



Views on trophy hunting

We understand that this is a highly controversial issue, and we have actively consulted with important conservation organisations such as the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group, and continue to take their advice on the subject. In an ideal world rhinos wouldn’t be under such extreme threat and there would be no need for trophy hunting.

However, the reality is that rhino conservation is incredibly expensive and there are huge pressures for land and protective measures; field programmes that use trophy hunting as a conservation tool, can use funds raised to provide a real difference for the protection of rhino populations. Many conservation organisations recognise that the sustainable use of wildlife, including responsible trophy hunting of rhinos, has a valid role in overall rhino conservation strategies.



Saving Africa’s Elephants: No Easy Answers

Placing a value on elephants. A man with hungry children may see the elephant as food. A hunter sees a trophy. A local village sees tourist dollars. A scientist sees a life force for Africa’s ecosystems. A visitor sees nature at its most inspiring.

The varying perceptions of the elephant’s purpose or value are formed by many factors, the size and density of human and elephant populations, how elephants and protected areas are managed, economic need, national attitudes, tradition.

“What the different values imply,” Stanley Price comments, “is that conservation requires different approaches.”

The question for conservation, he says, is whether there’s the will to recognize these diverse views and to try new strategies. The fate of elephants, as usual, lies in the hands of humans.



Informing decisions on trophy hunting


Habitat loss and degradation is the primary driver of declines in populations of terrestrial species. Demographic change and corresponding demands for land for development are increasing in biodiversity-rich parts of the globe, exacerbating this pressure on wildlife and making the need for viable conservation incentives more urgent. Well managed trophy hunting, which takes place in many parts of the world, can and does generate critically needed incentives and revenue for government, private and community landowners to maintain and restore wildlife as a land use and to carry out conservation actions (including anti-poaching interventions). It can return much needed income, jobs, and other important economic and social benefits to indigenous and local communities in places where these benefits are often scarce. In many parts of the world indigenous and local communities have chosen to use trophy hunting as a strategy for conservation of their wildlife and to improve sustainable livelihoods.



w/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Best Practices in Sustainable Hunting: A Guide to Best Practices from Around the World

Trophy hunting must provide measurable social, economic and ecological benefits. Hunting tourism and ecotourism have a number of similar elements and, well managed hunting tourism fulfils the concepts of ecotourism. Hunting tourism may be considered the least intrusive form of ecotourism since the balance of evidence proves that trophy hunting can help conserve threatened species and their habitats. The work done at several international symposia in recent years forms the basis for the development of Principles, Guidelines, Criteria and Indicators for hunting as key components of global sustainable hunting tourism, of resident recreational hunting and in consequence as a building block for rural poverty alleviation and as an important conservation contribution.



Trophy Hunting as a Sustainable Use of Wildlife Resources in Southern and Eastern Africa


Preserving wildlife in a pristine state on a large scale is no longer feasible in view of continued human population increases, economic development, habitat fragmentation and degradation, the introduction of nonnative species, and commercialisation of wildlife products. The wise use of the planet’s remaining wildlife resources will depend on management practices which recognise that indigenous people are integral parts of ecosystems. Community-based conservation, which attempts to devolve responsibility for the sustainable use of wildlife resources to the local level, can include consumptive activities, such as trophy hunting, as well as non-consumptive forms of tourism. The trophy hunting management systems of six countries of eastern and southern Africa are profiled and critiqued, demonstrating a number of essential conditions for obtaining optimal wildlife conservation and community benefits.



The baby and the bathwater: trophy hunting, conservation and rural livelihoods.

Although there is a pressing need for the reform of hunting governance and practice in many countries, calls for blanket restrictions on trophy hunting assume that it is uniformly detrimental to conservation; such calls are frequently made based on poor information and inaccurate assumptions. Here we explain how trophy hunting, if well managed, can play a positive role in supporting conservation as well as local community rights and livelihoods, and we provide examples from various parts of the world. We highlight the likely impact of blanket bans on trophy hunting and argue for a more nuanced approach to much-needed reform.



Commissioned Study:  The Significance of African Lions for the Financial Viability of Trophy Hunting and the Maintenance of Wild Land

Restrictions on lion hunting may also reduce tolerance for the species among communities where local people benefit from trophy hunting, and may reduce funds available for anti-poaching. If lion off-takes were reduced to recommended maximums (0.5/1000 km2), the loss of viability and reduction in profitability would be much lower than if lion hunting was stopped altogether (7,005 km2). We recommend that interventions focus on reducing off-takes to sustainable levels, implementing age-based regulations and improving governance of trophy hunting. Such measures could ensure sustainability, while retaining incentives for the conservation of lions and their habitat from hunting.



The Opportunity Cost of the Hunting Ban to Landowners in Kenya

Discussion paper

AWF has undertaken the preparation of this discussion paper not to argue for or against the hunting ban in Kenya, but to review the associated economic issues. It is our hope that this paper can contribute to clarifying some of the issues facing key stakeholder in making the decision as to whether to re-introduce hunting on a pilot basis.

Hunting is clearly an economically significant potential land use option for landowners in Laikipai. In terms of potential returns per hectare, it compares favorably with top-market wildlife viewing tourism, and is far more attractive than livestock or agriculture on large areas of Laikipia’s low rainfall land. This paper has laid out some of the economic arguments for hunting, and outlined some of the economic and non-economic sources of disagreement about the proposal to reintroduce hunting to certain community areas of Laikipia District on a pilot basis.

The economic case for re-introducing hunting is persuasive, particularly if mechanisms can be found to ensure that significant benefit streams accrue locally.



Conservation Biology Series

One of the major challenges of sustainable development is the interdisciplinary nature of the issues involved. To this end, a team of conservation biologists, hunters, tourist operators, ranchers, wildlife and land managers, ecologists, veterinarians and economists was convened to discuss whether wildlife outside protected areas in Africa can be conserved in the face of agricultural expansion and human population growth. They reached the unequivocal – if controversial – conclusion that wildlife can be an economic asset, especially in the African savannas, if this wildlife can be sustainably utilized through safari hunting and tourism.

Using the African savannas as an example, Wildlife Conservation by Sustainable Use shows that in many instances sustainable wildlife utilization comprises an even better form of land use than livestock keeping. Even when population pressure is high, as in agricultural areas or in humid zones, and wild animal species can pose a serious cost to agriculture, these costs are mainly caused by small species with a low potential for safari hunting.



Species Survival Commission: Guiding Principles on Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentive

IUCN has long recognized that the wise and sustainable use of wildlife can be consistent with and contribute to conservation, because the social and economic benefits derived from use of species can provide incentives for people to conserve them and their habitats. This document builds on existing IUCN policies by setting forth SSC guiding principles on the use of “trophy hunting”, as defined in Section II, as a tool for creating incentives for the conservation of species and their habitats and for the equitable sharing of the benefits of use of natural resources. Trophy hunting is often a contentious activity, with people supporting or opposing it on a variety of biological, economic, ideological or cultural bases. This document is focused solely on the relevance of trophy hunting for conservation and associated local livelihoods. Nothing in this document is intended to support or condone trophy hunting activities that are unsustainable; adversely affect habitats; increase extinction risks; undermine the rights of local communities to manage, steward, and benefit from their wildlife resources; or foster corruption or poor governance.



Consulting provided by: African Rhino Specialist Group

Proposing the use of charismatic species of large mammals as a conservation tool is often controversial, even though the Conservation of Biological Diversity promotes sustainable use as one of its three pillars. Indeed, sustainable use has been important in helping to recover southern white rhinos, the South African population of which was down-listed in 1994 to Appendix II of CITES for trophy hunting and live sales only. The Appendix I listed black rhino is now also beginning to recover, particularly in South Africa and Namibia, where how best to deal with surplus males arising from successful biological management is an increasing problem. Furthermore, black rhinos are now being increasingly moved to private land, where incentives from use may help promote metapopulation management goals. As a result, the African Rhino Specialist Group anticipated proposals to trophy hunt black rhinos, and were concerned to recommend criteria that proponent countries would need to meet for such proposals to succeed. These recommendations address four guiding principles:

  1. ensuring that any offtakes are biologically sustainable and based on good monitoring;
  2. ensuring that incentives from any hunting opportunities are maximized, without discriminating between state agencies and the private sector;
  3. rewarding good biological management and long-term commitment to black rhino conservation; and
  4. ensuring that appropriate internal and external controls are in place.



Trophy Hunting as a Sustainable Use of Wildlife Resources in Southern and Eastern Africa


Preserving wildlife in a pristine state on a large scale is no longer feasible in view of continued human population increases, economic development, habitat fragmentation and degradation, the introduction of nonnative species, and commercialisation of wildlife products. The wise use of the planet’s remaining wildlife resources will depend on management practices which recognise that indigenous people are integral parts of ecosystems. Community-based conservation, which attempts to devolve responsibility for the sustainable use of wildlife resources to the local level, can include consumptive activities, such as trophy hunting, as well as non-consumptive forms of tourism. The trophy hunting management systems of six countries of eastern and southern Africa are profiled and critiqued, demonstrating a number of essential conditions for obtaining optimal wildlife conservation and community benefits.



Commercial Wildlife Ranching’s Contribution to the Green Economy

If carefully managed, commercial wildlife ranching will always be Southern Africa’s competitive advantage. We should stop the questionable arguments with regard to conservation, biodiversity or the profit motive of commercial game ranching. We should rather focus on a more realistic driving force, namely, the green economy. Given the South Africa’s socio-political landscape, it is an undisputed reality that commercial wildlife ranching is about appropriate land-use and rural development; it is less about animals per se, not a white affluent issue, not a conservation-at-all-cost issue, but about economic sustainability with a powerful green footprint. It is a land-use option that is ecologically appropriate, economically sustainable, politically sensitive, and finally, socially just.



w/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Contribution of Wildlife to National Economies

Martin (2008) demonstrated that the Botswana hunting industry increased from approximately US$12 million in 2000 to approximately US$40 million in 2008, and could potentially double once more if the sustainable quota of key species (elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard) were more fully exploited and if the length of the hunting season were extended. Thus, through careful management and implementing appropriate policy environments, hunting tourism can demonstrate its contribution to national and local economies.

To this end it is important that both the private sector and government support socio-economic evaluations of hunting in order to advance our understanding of the economic benefits, and to better inform policy decisions in rural areas.



Wildlife management is more about managing people. Except when wildlife populations are so small they need assistance finding food or mates, animals are perfectly capable of managing themselves. At WCS, we step in only when people’s use of wild animals and their habitat puts the long-term survival of wildlife in jeopardy.

Around the world, WCS partners with local communities to manage their hunting and coastal fisheries to ensure that what they take is sustainable. We’re training local resource scouts to keep track of the abundance of species that are hunted and fished, and to help the communities themselves use this information to set and comply with sustainable harvest levels.



On World Lion Day 2017, Africa’s Lions Face Crisis

Over the past two decades, the African lion population has declined by an estimated 43%, with only 20,000 lions remaining across the entire continent. Habitat loss, poaching for bushmeat, and conflict with livestock owners are the primary killers of Africa’s lions today. Compared to trophy hunting, these threats combined are estimated to kill five to ten times as many lions each year.



Bear Den Study Demonstrates the Conservation Contributions of America’s Firearms Industry

Let’s put this into perspective. At the turn of the century, there were few ducks in the marshes, less than a half million whitetail deer, about 100,000 wild turkey and only 41,000 Rocky Mountain elk. Today, 46 million ducks migrate through our skies, 32 million deer are in our woods and fields, 7 million wild turkey roam and more than a million elk move through their ranges.

Black bear numbers fell as low as 200,000 across North America. Today, that number is 800,000, with nearly a half a million in the continental United States.