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Trophy hunting is considered a recreation for humans; however, it also benefits many and all species. Trophy hunting is considered the act of hunting wild game for human recreation (Milner et al., 2006). This would mean that a trophy animal would be the animal, or part of the animal that the hunter keeps. A trophy animal is also considered an individual that has unusually well-developed secondary sexual characteristics (Karyl et al., 2007). Trophy hunting can have many positive implications in the world, such as helping with the biodiversity of certain species’ habitats. Although this is a positive implication of trophy hunting, there are also negative consequences that come with trophy hunting. Therefore, I will argue that trophy hunting not only helps with the biodiversity of species, and the species as a whole, but helps to bring a great amount of revenue to the countries that allow the hunting of wild game.
Trophy hunting has been considered a recreation for humans that does not positively affect species. However, trophy hunting is actually a phenotype-selective harvest of animals and their species (Coltman et al., 2003). This means that trophy hunting will only work if hunters, humans, target the correct heritable traits of species (Milner et al., 2006). Often times these are things such as size, body weight, and other sexual characteristics that an individual acquires over time in the species that is being hunted. Although the trophy hunting is meant to help the biodiversity of a species, it will often raise millions of dollars for the conservation of animals (Lewis et al., 1997). This money that is raised, through trophy hunting, will then be poured back into the protection of these animals and their habitats. Often times this money will go into the creation of laws and regulations that affect trophy hunting. Some of these include things such as a limit to the number of trophy animals you may take (Whitman et al., 2004). While other money is put into creating protected grounds all around the world. These so called “protected grounds,” are actually areas where the hunting of trophy animals may take place.
For many years trophy hunting has brought the concern that it lowers the population size of species. However, trophy hunting has actually been proven to raise the populations of many species (Di M et al.,2016). We can see that trophy hunting has done this when we look at the past and present red deer populations in Europe and North America. Over the last several hundred years, these deer populations have increased because of direct and indirect factors (Milner et al., 2006). Some of these factors include things such as the availability of food in the winter months that has been created by humans. Humans have done this by changing the way that they use the land, especially when it comes to agriculture (Milner et al., 2006). This means that farmers will be more efficient with their farming land. On the contrary, laws have been put into place to protect against overhunting and poaching. Which allows for the deer to be hunted, but at a rate to where they are able to reproduce in order to increase their population numbers. The trophy hunting of species has been able to create evolutionary responses (Whitman et al., 2004). This means that over time the population have learned what “predators” want so they have developed new ways that help them evade the new threat of trophy hunters. For example, trophy hunters have wanted Ovis canadensis, bighorn rams, that are very large in weight and have horns that are exceptionally big. These rams have responded by not weighing as much and by having smaller horns than the generations before them (Karyl et al., 2007). This is why weight and horn size are considered highly valuable traits for these animals.
While the restrictions help with the biodiversity of species, trophy hunting has created many negatives in the world, especially in developing countries. This is due to the fact that the wildlife conservation, and trophy hunting, is now taking place in protected areas where human access and use is restricted (Lewis et al., 1997). This means that animals are able to over graze and destroy vegetation because there is no human interaction to keep the animals from destroying everything in their path. Not only will the animal populations destroy natural ecosystems, but they will also destroy any crops that were left on these protected lands when the restrictions were put into place (Whitman et al., 2004). A great majority of the animals that are hunted are herbivores, that are keystone species, that are needed to help protect the ecosystems and the overall food web in an environment (Di M et al., 2016). If too many of these keystone species are hunted and killed, then there will not be enough of the population to care for the overall vegetation. Because the main hunting grounds for trophy hunting is in protected environments, there is no way to create a census to see if trophy hunting really does reduce these animal populations or if it creates a better way to manage wildlife ultimately raising a species’ population (Lewis et al., 1997).
The argument that trophy hunting benefits species conservation has created ideas that both strengthen the argument, but it has also created ideas that detour the argument. Most of these ideas are that trophy hunting helps with the biodiversity of species, and at the same time help to increase the populations of the species. The only way for us to determine if trophy hunting increases population size, would be to create a way that would allow for an accurate census to be taken. This will not happen until there is a way for us to allow for human interaction in the same area that is being protected for trophy hunting and wildlife conservation.
- Coltman, D., O’Donoghue, P., Jorgenson, J., Hogg, J., Strobeck, C., & Festa-Bianchet, M. (2003). Undesirable evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting. Nature, 426(6967), 655-8.
- Di, M., Leader-Williams, N., & Bradshaw, C. (2016). Banning trophy hunting will exacerbate biodiversity loss. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(2), 99-102.
- Grignolio, S., Rossi, I., Bassano, B., & Apollonio, M. (2007). Predation risk as a factor affecting sexual segregation in alpine ibex. Journal of Mammalogy, 88(6), 1488-1497.
- Karyl, L., Henley, Q., Starfield, A., & Packer, C. (2007). Modeling the effects of trophy selection and environmental disturbance on a simulated population of African lions. Conservation Biology, 21(3), 591-601.
- Lewis, D., & Alpert, P. (1997). Trophy hunting and wildlife conservation in Zambia. Conservation Biology, 11(1), 59-68.
- Milner, J. M., Bonenfant, C., Mysterud, A., Gaillard, J., Csányi, S., & Stenseth, N. C. (2006). Temporal and spatial development of red deer harvesting in Europe: Biological and cultural factors. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43(4), 721-734.
- Whitman, K., Starfield, A., Quadling, H., & Packer, C. (2004). Sustainable trophy hunting of African lions. Nature, 428(6979), 175-8.
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