Abstracts Of Recently Published Papers On Hunting

In this section we will inform you periodically on interesting peer reviewed scientific papers on hunting and conservation. Usually we give you the title of the paper, the authors and an abstract, as well as a direct link to the paper and/or publisher.

Please note that the opinion expressed and the conclusions drawn in these papers do not necessarily represent the views of the publisher and editors of Conservation Frontlines.


The elephant (head) in the room: A critical look at trophy hunting. Batavia Chelsea, Nelson M P, Darimont C T, Paquet P C, Ripple W J & Wallach A D. Conservation Letters 2018; e12603.

Abstract: Trophy hunting has occupied a prominent position in recent scholarly literature and popular media. In the scientific conservation literature, researchers are generally supportive of or sympathetic to its usage as a source of monetary support for conservation. Although authors at times acknowledge that trophy hunting faces strong opposition from many members of the public, often for unspecified reasons associated with ethics, neither the nature nor the implications of these ethical concerns have been substantively addressed. We identify the central act of wildlife “trophy” taking as a potential source of ethical discomfort and public opposition. We highlight that trophy hunting entails a hunter paying a fee to kill an animal and claim its body or body parts as a trophy of conquest. Situating this practice in a Western cultural narrative of chauvinism, colonialism, and anthropocentrism, we argue trophy hunting is morally inappropriate. We suggest alternative strategies for conservation and community development should be explored and decisively ruled out as viable sources of support before the conservation community endorses trophy hunting. If wildlife conservation is broadly and inescapably dependent on the institution of trophy hunting, conservationists should accept the practice only with a due appreciation of tragedy, and proper remorse.


Is there an elephant in the room? A response to Batavia et al. Dickman Amy J, Johnson P J, ‘t Sas‐Rolfes M, Di Minin E, Loveridge A J,  Good C, Sibanda L, Feber R E, Harrington L A,  Mbizah M, Cotterill A,  Burnham D & Macdonald D W. Conservation Letters 2018; e12565.

We agree with Batavia et al. (2018) that conservationists should think more critically about trophy hunting. On pragmatic and ethical grounds, they argue that tolerance of hunting in the interests of conservation is misguided. They find the collection of trophies especially disquieting. We suggest insight can be gained from considering the wider context to aspects of their exploration.

Firstly, the authors begin by limiting (although this is broadened later) their perspective to “Western” hunters (North Americans and Europeans) paying to hunt. This leads to a preoccupation with trophy hunting as a ritual of white male supremacy within “a western cultural narrative of chauvinism, colonialism and anthropocentrism.” But none of these is unique to Western culture, and nor is the taking of trophies. They disregard local hunting by, for example, the Barabaig, Maasai, and Sukuma hunters who kill lions (for cultural reasons as well as for defense of livestock) and, much like “Western” hunters, take body parts as trophies. Their definition also excludes widespread sport hunting for trophies in the West; focusing on the taking of the trophy also downplays the complexity of hunter motivation.

Secondly, the authors query the basis for a consequentialist perspective: that any conservation benefit is delivered. There are, however, worrying indications that some lion populations would lose habitat if all legal hunting there were stopped (Macdonald, 2016). Recourse to consequentialism does not imply that wildlife is valued only as a commodity. The “we as humans” to which the authors refer includes many stakeholders: we suspect that few conservationists tolerate trophy hunting because they value lions merely as a resource for hunters (many may feel pressured to do so, if only in the short-term, where the alternative is erosion of lion habitat). Thirdly, the authors’ fundamental issue (regardless of any conservation benefit) is commodification of the animals: their reduction to “mere means.” They approach this by extending the well-known Kantian imperative to nonhuman animals, but it is worth considering that this extension leads to censure not just of trophy hunting, but of all uses of animals, including providing meat. We are sympathetic to the view that inflicting harm on sentient individuals with intrinsic value is morally hazardous. However, that hazard presumably remains regardless of whether killing animals provides sport (or other perceived benefits) to the hunter, or whether that killing also provides a trophy. We wonder whether sport hunters, regardless of race or gender, who left their quarry in the field would be thought of as showing more respect to animals than those who took a trophy.

We agree that trophy hunting is widely condemned, at least in the West, and personally we favor the substitution, wherever possible without further diminishing lion habitat, of ethically less troubling alternatives. But mindful of the deteriorating state of lion conservation, we advocate a “journey” rather than a “jump” to end hunting, in the interests of limiting unintended consequences (Macdonald, Jacobsen, Burn-ham, Johnson, & Loveridge, 2016). It may be an inconvenient truth, but the conservation of African wildlife currently depends on the Western patrons and markets that Batavia et al. appear to deprecate. This is equally true of non-consumptive wildlife use, conspicuously photo-tourism. African people bear the cost of living with wildlife. Their voices should be more prominent in the debate on its ethical management.


Extreme Wildlife Declines and Concurrent Increase in Livestock Numbers in Kenya: What Are the Causes? Ogutu J O, Piepho H P, Said M Y, Ojwang G O, Njino L W, Kifugo S C & Wargute P W. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0163249, 2017.

Abstract: There is growing evidence of escalating wildlife losses worldwide. Extreme wildlife losses have recently been documented for large parts of Africa, including western, Central and Eastern Africa. Here, we report extreme declines in wildlife and contemporaneous increase in livestock numbers in Kenya rangelands between 1977 and 2016. Our analysis uses systematic aerial monitoring survey data collected in rangelands that collectively cover 88% of Kenya’s land surface. Our results show that wildlife numbers declined on average by 68% between 1977 and 2016. The magnitude of decline varied among species but was most extreme (72–88%) and now severely threatens the population viability and persistence of warthog, lesser kudu, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, oryx, topi, hartebeest, impala, Grevy’s zebra and waterbuck in Kenya’s rangelands. The declines were widespread and occurred in most of the 21 rangeland counties. Likewise, to wildlife, cattle numbers decreased (25.2%) but numbers of sheep and goats (76.3%), camels (13.1%) and donkeys (6.7%) evidently increased in the same period. As a result, livestock biomass was 8.1 times greater than that of wildlife in 2011–2013 compared to 3.5 times in 1977–1980. Most of Kenya’s wildlife (ca. 30%) occurred in Narok County alone. The proportion of the total “national” wildlife population found in each county increased between 1977 and 2016 substantially only in Taita Taveta and Laikipia but marginally in Garissa and Wajir counties, largely reflecting greater wildlife losses elsewhere. The declines raise very grave concerns about the future of wildlife, the effectiveness of wildlife conservation policies, strategies and practices in Kenya. Causes of the wildlife declines include exponential human population growth, increasing livestock numbers, declining rainfall and a striking rise in temperatures but the fundamental cause seems to be policy, institutional and market failures. Accordingly, we thoroughly evaluate wildlife conservation policy in Kenya. We suggest policy, institutional and management interventions likely to succeed in reducing the declines and restoring rangeland health, most notably through strengthening and investing in community and private wildlife conservancies in the rangelands.


Ecological, Physiological, Genetic Trade-Offs And Socio-Economic Implications Of Trophy Hunting As A Conservation Tool: A Narrative Review. Muposhi V K, Gandiwa E, Makuza S M & Bartels P. The Journal of Animal & Plant Sciences, 27(1): 2017, Page: 1-14.

Abstract: Although the contribution of trophy hunting as a conservation tool is widely recognized, there is perpetual debate and polarization on its sustainability. This review integrates five themes mostly considered in isolation, as independent research fields in wildlife conservation: (1) trophy quality and population ecology of hunted species, (2) behavioral ecology of hunted populations and associated avoidance mechanisms, (3) physiological stress in hunted populations, (4) genetic variability and desirable traits, and (5) socio-economic imperatives in wildlife conservation. We searched for articles on search engines using specific key words and found 350 articles from which 175 were used for this review under five key themes. Population and trophy quality trends of commonly hunted species seem to be declining in some countries. Elevated hunting pressure is reported to influence the flight and foraging behavior of wildlife thus compromising fitness of hunted species. Selective harvesting through trophy hunted is attributed to the decline in desirable phenotypic traits and increased physiological stress in most hunted species. Though it provides financial resources need for conservation in some countries, trophy hunting works well in areas where animal populations are healthy and not threatened by illegal harvesting and other disturbances. There remains much polarity on the sustainability of trophy hunting in modern-day conservation. More research need to be conducted across the five themes examined in this review for broader analytical analysis and comparison purposes. A new research agenda is needed regarding wildlife sustainable use principles and their sustainability and acceptability in modern-day conservation.


Lions, trophy hunting and beyond: knowledge gaps and why they matter. Macdonald David W, Loveridge A J, Dickman A, Johnson P J, Jacobsen K S & Du Preez B. Mammal Review, Volume 47, Issue 4, Pages 247-253 – October 2017.

Abstract: What does trophy hunting (selective hunting for recreation) contribute to wild lion conservation? Macdonald (Report on Lion Conservation with Particular Respect to the Issue of Trophy Hunting. WildCRU, Oxford, UK, 2016) summarizes what we know. We identify unknowns, gaps in the knowledge that inhibit conservation planning, including: the causes of lion mortality, the amount of land used for lion trophy hunting, the extent to which trophy hunting depends on lions for financial viability, and the vulnerability of areas used for hunting to conversion to land not used for wildlife, if trophy hunting ceased. The cost of reversing biodiversity loss exceeds income from tourism, including hunting. New financial models are needed, particularly in view of the expanding human population in Africa.


Sustainability and Long Term-Tenure: Lion Trophy Hunting in Tanzania. Brink Henry, Smith R J, Skinner K & Leader-Williams N. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162610, 2016.

Abstract: It is argued that trophy hunting of large, charismatic mammal species can have considerable conservation benefits but only if undertaken sustainably. Social-ecological theory suggests such sustainability only results from developing governance systems that balance financial and biological requirements. Here we use lion (Panthera leo) trophy hunting data from Tanzania to investigate how resource ownership patterns influence hunting revenue and offtake levels. Tanzania contains up to half of the global population of free-ranging lions and is also the main location for lion trophy hunting in Africa. However, there are concerns that current hunting levels are unsustainable. The lion hunting industry in Tanzania is run by the private sector, although the government leases each hunting block to companies, enforces hunting regulation, and allocates them a species-specific annual quota per block. The length of these leases varies and theories surrounding property rights and tenure suggest hunting levels would be less sustainable in blocks experiencing a high turnover of short-term leases. We explored this issue using lion data collected from 1996 to 2008 in the Selous Game Reserve (SGR), the most important trophy hunting destination in Tanzania. We found that blocks in SGR with the highest lion hunting offtake were also those that experienced the steepest declines in trophy offtake. In addition, we found this high hunting offtake and the resultant offtake decline tended to be in blocks under short-term tenure. In contrast, lion hunting levels in blocks under long-term tenure matched more closely the recommended sustainable offtake of 0.92 lions per 1000 km2. However, annual financial returns were higher from blocks under short-term tenure, providing $133 per km2 of government revenue as compared to $62 per km2 from long-term tenure blocks. Our results provide evidence for the importance of property rights in conservation, and support calls for an overhaul of the system in Tanzania by developing competitive market-based approaches for block allocation based on long-term tenure of ten years.


African wildlife conservation and the evolution of hunting institutions ’t Sas-Rolfes Michael. Environ. Res. Lett. 12 (2017) 115007.

Abstract: Hunting regulation presents a significant challenge for contemporary global conservation governance. Motivated by various incentives, hunters may act legally or illegally, for or against the interests of conservation. Hunter incentives are shaped by the interactions between unevenly evolving formal and informal institutions, embedded in socio-ecological systems. To work effectively for conservation, regulatory interventions must take these evolving institutional interactions into account. Drawing on analytical tools from evolutionary institutional economics, this article examines the trajectory of African hunting regulation and its consequences. Concepts of institutional dynamics, fit, scale, and interplay are applied to case studies of rhinoceros and lion hunting to highlight issues of significance to conservation outcomes. These include important links between different forms of hunting and dynamic interplay with institutions of trade. The case studies reveal that inappropriate formal regulatory approaches may be undermined by adaptive informal market responses. Poorly regulated hunting may lead to calls for stricter regulations or bans, but such legal restrictions may in turn perversely lead to more intensified and organized illegal hunting activity, further undermining conservation objectives. I conclude by offering insights and recommendations to guide more effective future regulatory interventions and priorities for further research. Specifically, I advocate approaches that move beyond simplistic regulatory interventions toward more complex, but supportive, institutional arrangements that align formal and informal institutions through inclusive stakeholder engagement.


Wildlife Conservation on the Rangelands of Eastern and Southern Africa: Past, Present, and Future. Jerry Holechek and Raul Valdez. Rangeland Ecology & Management 71(2) 2017

Abstract: Our objective was to assess the status of the large native rangeland mammals in the eastern and southern African countries focusing on conservation strategies that will benefit the animals, their rangeland habitats, and the people who live in this region. Eastern and southern African rangelands are renowned for supporting a globally unique diversity and abundance of large mammals. This wildlife legacy is threatened by changing demographics, increased poaching, habitat fragmentation, and global warming, but there are reasons for optimism. After sharp declines from1970 to 1990 across Africa, wildlife populations in some countries have subsequently increased due to incentives involving sport hunting and ecotourism. National parks and protected areas, which have been critically important in maintaining African wildlife populations, are being increased and better protected. Over the past 50 years, the number of parks has been doubled and the areas of several parks have been expanded. The major problem is that no more than 20% of the national parks and reserves set aside for wildlife are adequately protected from poaching. The southern African countries where wildlife has recently thrived have robust hunting and ecotourism programs, which economically benefit private landowners. Considerable research shows rural communities dependent on rangelands can be incentivized to participate in large mammal conservation programs if they can economically benefit from wildlife tourism, sport hunting, and the legal sale of animal by products. Community-based wildlife conservation programs can be economically and ecologically effective in sustaining and enhancing African wildlife biodiversity, including rhinos, elephants, and lions. Low-input ranching wild ungulates for meat and hunting may be an economically viable alternative to traditional range livestock production systems in some areas. However, in many situations, common-use grazing of livestock and wildlife will give the most efficient use of rangeland forages and landscapes while diversifying income and lowering risk.


The battle over the benefits: analyzing two sport hunting policy arrangements in Uganda. Ochieng Amos, Visseren-Hamakers I J & van der Duim R. Oryx Volume 52, Issue 2 April 2018.

Abstract In 2001 sport hunting was reintroduced in Uganda around Lake Mburo National Park, and in 2008 at Kabwoya and Kaiso-Tonya Game Management Area, to derive economic benefits for communities and thus reduce human–wildlife conflict and change communities’ attitudes towards wildlife. We used the policy arrangement approach to analyze and compare the development of the two sport hunting policy arrangements. Through interviews and document review we learned that the arrangement at Lake Mburo changed considerably over time, whereas that at Kabwoya remained relatively stable. The two policy arrangements started with small constellations of actors but turned out to be complex arenas, mainly involving disagreement regarding the benefits. Land ownership proved to be a crucial factor in explaining the differences between the arrangements. Our results also show that benefits do not change communities’ attitudes towards conservation, thus questioning incentive-based policies for conservation. We argue for a careful analysis of the complex social, cultural and political contexts in which conservation and development policies are implemented, to better understand their outcomes.