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The Baby And The Bathwater – Trophy Hunting, Conservation And Rural Livelihoods

April 2017 - Volume 15 - 2

The Baby And The Bathwater – Trophy Hunting, Conservation And Rural Livelihoods


A new paper by IUCN experts presents substantial evidence that the controversial practice of trophy hunting can produce positive outcomes for wildlife conservation and local people. Download the PDF at Unasylva 249, Vol. 68, 2017/1

Trophy hunting is the subject of intense debate and polarized positions, with controversy and deep concern over some hunting practices and their ethical basis and impacts. The controversy has sparked moves at various levels to end or restrict trophy hunting, including through bans on the carriage or import of hunting trophies. In March 2016, for example, a group of members of the European Parliament called (unsuccessfully) for the signing of a Written Declaration calling for examination of the possibility of restricting all imports of hunting trophies into the European Union. Although there is a pressing need for the reform of hunting governance and practice in many countries, calls for blanket restrictions on trophy hunting assume that it is uniformly detrimental to conservation; such calls are frequently made based on poor information and inaccurate assumptions.

Here we explain how trophy hunting, if well managed, can play a positive role in supporting conservation as well as local community rights and livelihoods, and we provide examples from various parts of the world. We highlight the likely impact of blanket bans on trophy hunting and argue for a more nuanced approach to much needed reform.

*Rosie Cooney, Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP)/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULI) and Visiting Fellow at the University of NSW, Australia. Curtis Freese, Marco Pani and Vernon Booth are independent consultants and members of the IUCN CEESP/SSC SULI. Holly Dublin, Chair of the IUCN SSC African Elephant Specialist Group, Senior Advisor IUCN East and Southern Africa Regional Office, and member IUCN CEESP/SSC-SULI. Dilys Roe, Principal Researcher and Team Leader (Biodiversity) at International Institute for Environment and Development and member IUCN CEESP/SSC-SULI. David Mallon, Co-chair IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group and member IUCN CEESP/SSC-SULI. Michael Knight, Co-chair IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group and member IUCN CEESP/SSC-SULI. Richard Emslie, Scientific Officer with the IUCN SSC African Rhino Specialist Group. Shane Mahoney, CEO Conservation Visions and Deputy Chair for North America IUCN CEESP/SSC-SULI. Chimeddorj Buyanaa, Conservation Director, WWF Mongolia Program Office.