WWF And Trophy Hunting
WWF is dedicated to protecting the earth’s wildlife and the ecosystems that support us all. Myriad threats have led wildlife populations to decline by an average of 52 percent globally since 1970. Success in conservation requires the use of a range of approaches to address the world’s environmental challenges.
In certain limited and rigorously controlled cases, including for threatened species, scientific evidence has shown that trophy hunting can be an effective conservation tool as part of a broad mix of strategies. At the same time, WWF opposes any hunting that threatens species or habitat sustainability. Importantly, WWF does not support trophy hunting unless it demonstrates both conservation and community benefits.
Conservation programs that include trophy hunting must be sustainable and benefit the wildlife populations of affected species, their habitats and associated ecosystems. They must also benefit local communities and be legally, culturally and religiously appropriate within the region, and meet other minimum conservation standards. Further, these programs must be very strictly managed. As such, WWF believes trophy hunting should only be considered on a case-by-case basis.
When strict criteria are met, multi-pronged conservation strategies including trophy hunting enable communities to prioritize habitat and wildlife conservation over alternatives such as cattle raising and converting habitats for farming. They include putting people on the ground to monitor and protect lands and wildlife, and offset the costs and dangers of living with wildlife.
Such programs have enabled communities to invest funds in long-term wildlife conservation and sustainable development. They have proven to be vital to communities where remoteness and lack of facilities limit the availability of other livelihood options, such as ecotourism. As part of its work, WWF provides long-term scientific and technical advice to improve the management of some conservation programs involving trophy hunting, with the goal of ensuring both people and wildlife can thrive.
Trophy Hunting Examples That Benefit Conservation
In the mid-1990s in Namibia, wildlife numbers were at historical lows in many areas. But since the government’s visionary support for a community-based conservation strategy, including some tightly regulated trophy hunting, the recovery of wildlife has been remarkable. Namibia now boasts the largest free-roaming population of black rhino, as well as expanding numbers of elephants, lions and giraffes and the world’s largest cheetah population. Local communities have also benefitted substantially from the program.
In Pakistan, a scientifically based program including trophy hunting has led to a significant increase in the number of endangered Markhor goats, which has boosted the area’s population of endangered snow leopard (for which Markhor is an important prey species). The program has directly benefitted local communities, helping to boost the local economy and stimulate development.
Trophy Hunting Examples That Do Not Benefit Conservation
WWF believes leopards and Himalayan black bears should not be hunted in Pakistan because of the wide array of threats to their survival and lack of accurate population estimates. Instead, WWF has called for a dedicated conservation program for both these species, which does not exist.
WWF does not support so-called “canned” or captive-bred hunting. This type of hunting has no proven conservation value. “Canned” hunting is a form of trophy hunting where the animals are bred for the purpose of being hunted and are usually confined or restrained at the time of the hunt.
Download the complete WWF Policy and Considerations on Trophy Hunting