Call to end Trophy Hunting Imports

Friday 08 July 2022

Helping Rhinos has joined 137 conservation and animal protection organisations from all around the world, including 45 NGOs from African countries, in a joint position paper to speak out against trophy hunting and urge policy-makers to ban imports. 

Between 2014 and 2018 almost 125,000 trophies of CITES protected species were imported globally, with the US and the EU featuring as the biggest importers.

Trophy hunting can adversely affect the survival of species and undermine conservation efforts. Trophy hunters often target rare and imperilled species or animals with impressive physical traits and remove individuals who are essential for reproduction and stabilising social groups. By targeting such animals, trophy hunters directly and indirectly contribute to population declines, disrupted social structure, and reduced resilience. The industry drives demand for parts and products of endangered species and incentivises and prioritises their killing through award schemes and other promotions. 

Furthermore, shooting animals of protected and endangered species is often a privilege of foreign hunters, while access to wildlife and land is often restricted for locals. This disenfranchisement of local communities coupled with the social destabilising effects of trophy hunting on many species can fuel human-animal conflict rather than mitigate it. Such situations are further exacerbated by the fact that the trophy hunting industry fails to deliver meaningful economic benefits to local communities, contrary to what is claimed by the pro trophy hunting narrative. In fact, as most hunts are conducted on private land and the hunting sector is plagued with corruption, trophy hunting revenues usually end up in the pockets of hunting operators, private farm owners and local elites. 

“Conservation models that combine the expansion and protection of wild spaces for the benefit of both wildlife and people are key to the global conservation community achieving success in our goal to create healthy, biodiverse ecosystems for generations to come.

Trophy hunting is proven to provide very little benefit to the communities that live side by side with our wildlife. It also sends a very mixed message when we tell local people it is not OK to enter a protected area and kill a rhino, while at the same time the authorities are issuing trophy hunting permits to wealthy hunters from overseas.

Now is the time for Governments, private land owners, NGO’s and international business leaders to come together and realise our ambition to create an environment that benefits the majority and not the minority.”

Simon Jones
CEO, Helping Rhinos

In addition to hampering conservation efforts and minimal economic benefits, the practice of trophy hunting also raises ethical and animal welfare concerns. Shooting animals for fun simply to obtain a trophy as a status symbol is ethically unjustifiable, disregards their intrinsic value by reducing them to commodities and puts a ‘price tag’ on death reflecting the amount foreign hunters are willing to pay for the kill. 

Moreover, trophy hunters frequently employ and incentivise hunting methods that increase the suffering of the animal, such as the use of bows and arrows, muzzle loaders, handguns or dogs chasing animals for hours to exhaustion.

In many countries around the world, citizens oppose trophy hunting and the import of hunting trophies. Surveys in the EU, Switzerland and the U.S. confirm that between 75 and 96 percent of respondents oppose trophy hunting and support import bans for trophies. In South Africa, the major African exporter of hunting trophies of protected species, a majority of 64 percent disapproves of trophy hunting.

View the position paper in full by clicking here.