Letters

Trophy hunting: Bans create opening for change

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Science  25 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6464, pp. 434-435
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz4135

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  • RE: Communities response
    • Ishmael Chaukura, Inter-ward Chairperson Masoka Ward, Zimbabwe, CAMPFIRE Zimbabwe
    • Other Contributors:
      • Gakemotho Satau, Chairperson, Trust for Okavango Cultural and Development Initiatives (TOCaDI) Botswana
      • Rodgers Lubilo, Chairman, Zambia National CBNRM Forum
      • Hilda N. Nathinge, Vice Chairperson, North Central Conservancy, Representing 9 conservancies

    The recent letter in Science by Dickman et al about trophy hunting unleashed passionate debate in the Western media. These discussions have involved over 400 conservationists, academics and animal rights advocates from the US, Europe and Australia, voicing strong, if divergent, opinions on effective conservation strategies.

    Much of the discussion focuses on Africa, but with the notable exception of Dickman et al’s letter, key voices missing from the debate are those of rural people and governments who live with and manage African wildlife, and who will ultimately determine its future. As legitimate representatives of many thousands of people from key wildlife range states (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia), we would like to correct this and have our perspective and voices heard.

    Sustainably managing megafauna is complex, and successful conservation must start with we who live directly with wildlife. Whilst many in the West view elephants, lions and other wildlife through a romantic, idealized lens, our daily reality of living with these magnificent and valued, yet often dangerous, animals requires more pragmatism.

    We, who live surrounded by this wildlife, worry daily that our children may be killed on their way to school, or that our livelihoods will be destroyed. In Botswana, 36 people were killed by elephants in 2018. In Zimbabwe, at least 30 people were trampled by elephants in 2019. Every death is a tragedy, and often involves family bre...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Nowak et al reinforce our fears regarding lack of proven alternatives for trophy hunting areas
    • Amy Jane Dickman, Kaplan Senior Research Fellow, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
    • Other Contributors:
      • Rosie Cooney, Conservation scientist, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University
      • Paul J Johnson, Research Fellow, Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford
      • Maxi Pia Louis, Director, NACSO, Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations, Windhoek, Namibia
      • Dilys Roe, Chair, IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, IUCN SSC CEESP Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group

    Nowak et al. demonstrate a deeply concerning lack of awareness of some key risks of banning trophy hunting in the absence of plausible alternative land uses. They inaccurately characterize our fears as being only about funding. Reduced funding for conservation is indeed a major concern: across just Africa’s protected areas with lions (including both tourism and trophy hunting areas), there is an estimated annual deficit of over US$600 million needed for effective management (1). Removing any existing revenue streams for those areas without substituting a replacement would be deeply irresponsible, and would harm local progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals that Nowak et al claim to value. There are areas where income from trophy hunting is indeed currently ‘unique’ – no adequate replacements are currently available. Pragmatism should not be confused with ‘defeatism’.

    However, the true risk is not about losing funding per se – it is about losing funding streams that require the presence of trophy hunted species such as lions and elephants, and therefore incentivize conservation of their populations and habitat. Nowak et al. assert that ‘sustainable alternatives exist’. But they fail to provide evidence that the alternatives they mention have any prospect of imminently replacing trophy hunting anywhere beyond a minority of atypical cases. In particular, the idea that trophy hunting – which can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars from a single hun...

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    Competing Interests: A.D. is the Director of the Ruaha Carnivore Project, which has received funding from phototourism (Asilia, Nomad) and hunting nongovernmental organizations (the Dallas Safari Club, and Safari Club International), with the latter two occurring more than 5 years ago and representing less than 1% of overall project funding. She is also a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group and on the Steering Committee of the IUCN Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force. R.C. and D.R. are Honorary Fellows of the Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCA) Consortium; they are also are past and current Chair of IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), which receives no core funding and <5% project funding from hunting-related sources. SULi co-convened a meeting in 2018 that received funding from a wide range of hunting and nonhunting-related organizations, including Safari Club International Foundation, Wild Sheep Foundation, the Russian Mountain Hunters' Club, and a member of The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation delegation.. R.C. is a member of the Global Environment Facility Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. D.R. is a Fellow of the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre. M.P.L. is affiliated with the Namibian Association of CBNRM (Community-based natural resource management) Support Organizations. P.J. has no competing interests.

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