Do Trophy Hunts Really Raise Money for Conservation Efforts?

ďSure, I shoot endangered animals, but Iím part of the conservation movement!Ē Big game trophy hunters love to justify their bloodlust hobby by explaining that the money they spend goes toward protecting other animals. Itís backwards logic at best and it turns out it might not even be true.

Would it surprise you to learn that a lot of the money generated from hunting thatís supposed to be allocated toward conservation efforts doesnít ever reach its intended targets?†

Thatís the sad news from the Democratic wing of the House Natural Resources Committee (HNRC). Staffers prepared a frustrating report titled Missing the Mark: African Hunting Fails to Show Consistent Conservation Benefits. In researching the subject, they found a lack of evidence to suggest that most of the hunting money is actually applied to conservation efforts. Fancy that!

money trail

Following the money paid to multiple trophy hunting agencies, the HNRC noticed that a lot of the money was actually being diverted away from conservation efforts. In some cases, the revenue did go to local governments, but there was no paper trail to suggest that the government was applying this money to conservation.

The reportís conclusion is firm: ďAs the tragic death of Cecil the lion showed us, trophy hunters do no always play by the rules, and the trophy hunting industry needs to be regulated and held accountable for there to be any hope of a consistent conservation benefit.Ē

The HNRC is not the first to make this argument. As Care2ís Lizabeth Paulat reminded us†two years ago, South Africa has both the highest rate of trophy hunting and the highest rate of poaching. If the money from trophy hunting is supposed to be stopping poaching, that money is not being well spent.

Without a doubt, poaching kills far more endangered animals than licensed hunting excursions. However, when weíre talking about killing species that are already dangerously depleted, it certainly doesnít help put their numbers back on the right track. If anything, it signals to potential poachers that we can afford to kill more Ė even if we canít.

Missing the Mark validates the outrage that Care2 members have had in recent years at trophy hunters being allowed to kill vulnerable creatures. People pay as much as $15,000 to kill a giraffe, and one ďluckyĒ (by which I mean terrible) hunter paid $350,000 to kill one of Namibiaís last 1,800 black rhinos.

Earlier this year, Mandalay Bay planned an auction where trophy hunters could bid on the right to kill 600 rare and exotic animals. Over 230,000 Care2 members signed a petition pleading with the hotel to cancel the event.

In addition to these righteous animal activists, itís good that the United States government is finally looking more closely at this issue. Though itís easy to say that this problem is for Africa to figure out, in truth, American hunters kill more big game animals for sport in this continent than hunters from anywhere else by far. The U.S. government will need to take a lead in order for anything to improve.

us trophy

Given what we now know about trophy hunting, letís call it out for what it is: rich people using their wealth to legally flout the rules. Laws exist to prevent endangered animals from going extinct, but if you have enough money, the government suddenly doesnít want to infringe on your right to kill a creature whose species is on the verge of dying off.

Hunters are straight up full of s— when they argue that theyíre doing important work for conservation. Itís true that we need to find more sources of revenue for conservation efforts, but letís not pretend that the people who want to shoot endangered animals and mount them on their walls are the good guys in this scenario.

Now that itís increasingly apparent that these huntersí ďcontributionsĒ arenít even being applied to conservation, it makes the setup even more farcical. The hunters can probably truthfully plead ignorant as to where the money actually ends up, but itís also doubtful that they even care where the money goes in the first place.

Photo credit: Hunter image from Thinkstock, charts from House Natural Resource Committee report


Sue H
Sue H1 months ago

Seriously disturbing.

Crystal G.
Crystal G2 years ago

I knew it was all B/S.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Coll Prin
Coll Prin2 years ago

if it is made to have it easier for disabled people to go on safari. there is more revenu for tourism. if they make it easier and if hunting does bring it in. then they won't need it.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Another big fat lie.

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago

Oh, that makes a lot of sense! "I kill lions and use the money to conservation of said lions, so I can kill even more lions"... Idiots! They should be shooting their own asses!

Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrie3 years ago

Not only trophy hunters but the South African government itself is to be squarely blamed for this heinous act of cruelty and 'sport' that also encourages poachers. The South African government (oh yes, and other governments in Africa) must fully come to terms with the fact that when they do not have an endless number of animals and eventually their tourism industry will also die out. Apart from these beautiful beasts what does South Africa have as tourist attraction? What do any other African nation have except for their animals? Why are these African governments encouraging these so -called 'trophy hunters to wreck havoc on their wildlife? As it is, poachers are adding to the problem. African governments, especially South Africa, must completely stop trophy hunting. Ban the bastards from coming into the country and killing off the limited wildlife. AS for the poachers, the corrupt African bureaucrats and government officials are in league. Money obtained by trophy hunting is a laughable claim.

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

IF THEY DO, IT'S ONLY TO EASE THE GUILT ATTACHED TO THE ACT ... and I'm willing to bet that "administrative" drains off the bulk of anything gathered in good faith.

Patricia Harris
John Taylor3 years ago

Terri S., you're so right!! This just doesn't make any sense at all!!

Terri S.
Terri S3 years ago

There is no way you can truly care for an animal and be willing to kill it at the same time. These hunters are pathetic idiots!!