Trophy hunting helps conservation? The industry’s biggest myths debunked


Trophy hunting helps conservation? The industry’s biggest myths debunked

18 January 2024
Four Paws
Despite the ever-growing biodiversity crisis, it is still legal to hunt endangered species for trophies, with elephants, rhinos, leopards, lions and polar bears often falling victim to this cruel practice.

The EU is the second largest importer of hunting trophies worldwide, with nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of individual animals imported between 2014 and 2018 alone. The industry often uses misguided messaging to justify their actions, but a new report, published by 30 NGOs from across Europe and Africa, scientifically addresses these myths. Here are just a few:

Myth: Trophy hunting helps in conservation efforts

Fact: It negatively impacts populations of endangered and protected species

Hunters often target large or strong animals, jeopardising the gene pool of a population and negatively affecting long-term survival. This also undermines efforts by local communities towards conservation and co-existence, as it normalises the killing of animals for personal pleasure.

Myth: It benefits local communities

Fact: For communities it is a lose-lose situation

The trophy hunting industry is riddled with corruption and mismanagement, maximising profits for hunting officials, hunting tour operators and government officials. Local communities benefit by as little as USD 0.30 and USD 5.90 per capita per year, depending on the country. Often, hunting fees do not even reach local communities.

For most communities, trophy hunting is a lose-lose situation. They lose their wildlife to the rifle of foreign hunters, and fail to profit from the money produced by this deadly business. Trophy hunting not only exploits wildlife and nature, but also robs local communities of their heritage and future existence.

Nick Clark, Wildlife Programme Leader, Eurogroup for Animals

Myth: Trophy hunting prevents poaching

Fact: Poaching and illegal practices are rampant in hunting areas

Evidence shows high poaching incidents in hunting areas, leading to depleted animal populations. This has been especially evident in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, the largest

hunting area in Africa, where approximately 55,000 elephants were poached between 2007 and

2014, leading to a population decline of 80 %. In some instances, animals migrate from protected areas to reoccupy empty territories in hunting areas, only to end up victims of trophy hunting.

Myth: Trophy hunting reduces human-animal conflicts

Fact: Trophy hunting exacerbates conflicts between humans and animals

Trophy hunters often target large and more mature males, which often disrupts social dynamics, exacerbating conflict with people. As an example, elephants from populations that have been subject to illegal hunting over a period of time often become more responsive towards humans, and may express aggressive behaviour. Hunting can also encourage predators to venture more frequently into human settlements, preying on farm animals as an easily available food source.

There is increased opposition to trophy hunting from the public, member states and NGOs.

The European Parliament has called for an import ban on trophies from protected species, and Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Finland have already implemented, or are in the process of, import restrictions. 81% of citizens from major European trophy importing countries oppose the practice and call for an import ban.