Big hunting game

LionBy Prof Adam Hart Presenter, Big Game Theory

Image caption For those who are so inclined, it is possible to legally hunt virtually any African animal

Trophy hunting has been the subject of much media attention amid the backdrop of declining populations of big game animals in Africa. But is a blanket ban really the answer?

Sometime later Cecil was shot and finally killed.

The media attention that followed made it clear that many people were unaware of the realities of modern-day African hunting.

In fact, if you have enough money and are so inclined, you can legally hunt pretty much any African animal, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and hippo.

You'll need the right permits and it's subject to quotas and regulations but if you do it by the book, then it's perfectly legal. And once you've killed it you can export the "trophy" home.

'Moral objection'

Following Cecil's death, many have called for a blanket ban on trophy hunting. Calls for a ban come from a number of different directions.

Neither trophy hunting nor phototourism is sufficient to cover the costs [of conservation]Prof Craig Packer, Lion conservation expert

For some, there is a moral objection to the killing of animals for pleasure, for others an understandable emotional response to images of hunters posing with their kills or concerns over conservation.

But calls for a blanket ban on trophy hunting fail to take into account the complex relationship between hunting and conservation.

Some trophy kills are hard to justify no matter which side of the fence you sit on. Leopard for example are a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix I species.

Image caption As the human population in Africa expands, conflict between humans and wildlife increases

Such species are threatened with extinction and the commercial trade in wild-caught specimens is illegal. Despite this, it is still possible to hunt one "on trophy" (subject to quotas) for personal, non -commercial purposes.

Another hunting practice that has come under the spotlight is "canned hunting" of lions. There is considerable confusion between, and conflation of, trophy hunting and canned hunting. Canned hunting, where captive bred lions are released into small enclosures to be hunted in a "no kill no fee" arrangement, "hits the bottom of the barrel" according to Will Travers, President of wildlife charity the Born Free Foundation.

Poor welfare

Largely based in South Africa, the welfare issues involved in canned hunting, which include severe over-crowding and inadequate access to food and water, have recently been exposed by environmental film maker Ian Michler in his film Blood Lions.

However, as lion conservation expert and author of Lions in the Balance: Man-eaters, Manes and Men with Guns, Professor Craig Packer, says: "These animals are not part of the wild population and so, there's no real immediate impact on conservation… I view canned hunting mostly as an animal welfare issue."

Many sought-after trophy animals, such as kudu and impala, are maintained in large numbers across Southern Africa, especially South Africa, within large, fenced, privately-owned reserves.

Image caption Many prized trophy animals such as kudu are maintained in large, fenced reserves

Animal numbers need to be controlled to prevent over-stocking and over-grazing. Surplus animals are harvested for meat but larger males can generate far more revenue if they're taken by a trophy hunter.

The taking of trophy animals in such reserves is of limited conservation concern and the money generated helps to pay for the management that is required to keep reserves in good condition.

In fact, the impact of trophy hunting depends on the species and the region being considered. So the past few decades in South Africa have seen a landscape-level replacement of cattle farming with wildlife farming.

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Popular Q&A

What are the legal hunting dates for big game hunting?

Big game hunting hours are sunrise to sunset, May 4, 2009 through June 6, 2009 in the state of New York. Have a day!

What is PETA's stance on hunting and big game hunting? | Yahoo Answers

They oppose all hunting for any reason. Hell they pretty much oppose all fishing, any ownership of animals for any purpose, etc. Not all members of PETA are this fanatical, but that is what PETA is about. Many in their ranks have accepted that hunting is gonna happen at some level, but any new seasons are vigorously opposed. In Maryland, they fought hard to block a limited hunt on black bear in Western MD. They failed at that, but they still are using their connections to have new bills introduced that would stop the hunts all together.

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