New Analysis: Wildlife Trophy Hunting Often Doesn’t Bring Species Conservation Benefits Claimed by Promoters

Washington, D.C. – Original analysis published today by the House Natural Resources Committee Democratic staff shows that despite the claims of wildlife trophy hunting promoters, there is little evidence to show that the practice has benefited hunted species’ survival in several African countries. The findings have major implications for endangered species protection and come a few days before the July 1 one-year anniversary of the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by American dentist Walter Palmer.

The analysis, titled “Missing The Mark: African trophy hunting fails to show consistent conservation benefits,” finds that major hunted species – including the African lion, the African elephant, the leopard, and the white and black rhinoceros – have largely suffered from a combination of African countries’ lax conservation enforcement and frequent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failures to demand relevant information before approving trophy hunting imports under the Endangered Species Act. The full report is available at http://1.usa.gov/1tm0W4z.

The report shows that in three of the four countries assessed – Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa – there is little evidence to support trophy hunting advocates’ frequent claims that trophy hunts help hunted species survive. A one-page fact sheet is available at http://1.usa.gov/25T2ogo.

The report lays out multiple recommendations, including:

  • Requiring more frequent and robust enhancement findings for ESA listed species
  • Closing loopholes that allow some trophies to be imported without a permit
  • Collecting additional data on trophy hunting through the permitting process
  • Increasing permit fees to fund science and conservation
  • Allowing only trophy imports taken using widely recognized best practices

“Today’s report shows that while trophy hunting has benefited at-risk species in rare circumstances, most hunts cannot be considered good for a species’ survival,” said Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva. “Taking that claim at face value is no longer a serious option. Anyone who wants to see these animals survive needs to look at the evidence in front of us and make some major behavior and policy changes. Endangered and threatened species are not an inexhaustible resource to be killed whenever the mood strikes us.” 

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