On the Surface
The world exploded in rage following a Minnesota dentist’s dubious killing of a well-known lion (Cecil) in Zimbabwe. Hunters have protested that trophy hunting brings valuable revenue to poverty-stricken regions, especially in Africa, and aids in animal conservation. However, trophy hunting is mostly irresponsible, cutting into revenue streams from eco-tourism, aiding corruption, and diminishing the health of animal populations.
Eco-Tourism and Corruption
According to recent figures, trophy hunting accounts for around two percent of all tourism-related revenues for African countries. In addition, trophy hunting diminishes the life value of an animal potential of a living animal (for example, an elephant’s ivory fetches around $21,000 on the black market, while ecotourism for that elephant provides roughly $1.6 million). Even if money from hunting is used for conservation, it pales in comparison to the earning potential of a live animal (ecotourism also raises awareness for animals’ conservation).
Big-game hunts are incredibly expensive (Cecil the lion cost $55,000 to hunt). So where does the money from trophy hunting actually go? According to the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, the lion’s share of revenue (mind the pun) does not trickle down locally (in reality, only around 3 percent of that money goes to locals); rather, it accrues directly to government agencies notorious for corruption (Zimbabwe’s own Robert Mugabe, who called for the extradition of Cecil’s killer, infamously served elephant meat at his 91st birthday party).
While big-game hunters declare that trophy hunting is good for both the economy and animal conservation, their claims are false. Not only does hunting drastically reduce the value of an animal, it also directly fuels governmental corruption.