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Trophy Hunting Bans May Speed Up Biodiversity Loss, Researchers Say

Jan 12, 2016 03:22 PM EST
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Could banning trophy hunting in African countries do more harm than good fr conservation? Researchers from the University of Adelaide have found that banning hunting of large game could lead to economic stress and compromise a country's ability to invest in critical conservation initiatives.

"Understandably, many people oppose trophy hunting and believe it is contributing to the ongoing loss of species; however, we contend that banning the U.S.'s $217 million per year industry in Africa could end up being worse for species conservation," Professor Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modeling in the University of Adelaide's Environment Institute, explained in a news release. "Conserving biodiversity can be expensive, so generating money is essential for environmental non-government organizations, conservation-minded individuals, government agencies and scientists."

Surprisingly, researchers found trophy hunting can even be less disruptive than ecotourism, which puts humans in contact with wildlife on a much larger scale.

However, there is a need for stricter regulations within the trophy hunting industry. For instance, making sure the revenue generated from permits is invested in local conservation efforts.

"One of the biggest problems is that the revenue it generates often goes to the private sector and rarely benefits protected-area management and the local communities," Professor Nigel Leader-Williams of the University of Cambridge added. "However, if this money was better managed, it would provide much needed funds for conservation."

Following their study, researchers provide a list of guidelines that may address some of the concerns about trophy hunting and enhance its contribution to biodiversity conservation.

Some of their suggestions include: 

• Investing revenue directly into trust funds for conservation and management;

• Mandatory population surveys should be conducted to ensure harvests cause no net population declines;

• Post-hunt sales of any part of an animals should be banned to avoid illegal wildlife trade;

• Mandatory scientific sampling of hunted animals, including tissue for genetic analyses and teeth for age analysis, should be enforced;

• Mandatory five-year (or more frequent) reviews of all animals hunted;

• Full disclosure to public;

• Trophies must be confiscated and permits are revoked when illegal practices occur. 

The study was recently published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

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