Hundreds of hunters travel to Africa every year for something they refer to as a sport, trophy hunting. They essentially look to shoot animals to hang on their walls as trophies. This sport not only is unethical and another form of animal cruelty, but it also creates problems that affect the ecosystem. Although hunting was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, in this writer’s opinion, more recent hunting is rarely done for the need of subsistence. Moreover, where people once hunted to feed their family, it would seem that currently, hunting is now performed as a violent form of recreation where hunters seek out the best heads of animals they can find for their walls at home. According to Change.org, hunting has now contributed to the extinction of many animal species all around the world including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk. Although there are other factors that may lead to an animal’s extinction such as climate change, habitat loss and national and international wildlife trade, hunting is the biggest threat for the extinction of mammals according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and devolvement challenges.
In addition, the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), believes that hunting interrupts migration and hibernation patterns and destroys animal families. For instance, hunting can destroy entire communities such as wolves who mate for life and live close in close-knit family units. Furthermore, stress that hunted animals suffer can severely compromise their normal eating habitats, making it hard for them to store the fat and energy they need in order to survive the winter, according to PETA. They have stated that: “The fragile balance of ecosystems ensures many animals own survival—if they are left unaltered. The natural predators help maintain this balance by killing the sickest and weakest animals. Hunters, however, kill any animals they come across which include many that are needed to keep the population strong”.
A recent example of an ecosystem being negatively altered by hunting can be found in Namibia, Africa where they currently dealing with an extremely high rate of hunting for Cheetahs and Leopards. The problem has escalated so quickly that even the local association of Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) has documented the damage to the local ecosystem and has made requests to the Environment and Tourism Minister to stop issuing new permits for the trophy hunters of leopards and cheetahs for 2010. NAPHA is not against safaris, on the contrary, it promotes and encourages trips with professional tour guides that can help hunters pursue this cruel sport. The NAPHA website defines their country as a “hunter’s paradise” and “Namibia, best kept hunting secret” and lists information regarding hunting regulations and which arms are forbidden or not. Although this organization promotes this horrible sport, they believe that a moratorium is inevitable in order to guarantee a future for the hunter industry. Unfortunately for the people who believe in animal rights, it will be next to impossible to ban the sport all together due to the amount of money brought in by trophy hunters coming to Namibia. Thankfully, NAPHA has noticed a terrible increase in reports of “alleged unscrupulous, unethical and illegal hunting practices often involving unregistered and unqualified persons posing as hunting professionals”. Consequently, new hunting permits have stopped being issued for the remainder of the year because the 2009 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) quotas showed that the export quotas of 250 for leopards and 150 for cheetahs have already been reached for this year. Moreover, NAPHA hunters have asked the Government, as discussed in an article in the newspaper New Era, to suspend issuing new hunter permits for leopards and cheetahs for all 2010. I think that this article represents a wakeup call for countries that have not banned trophy hunting or, at the very least, instituted strong regulations limiting hunting. Namibia is now faced with the situation where Leopard and Cheetah hunting deaths may outpace the reproduction cycle of these animals. Although NAPHA’s goal is to allow for sustainable hunting for years to come, I am excited by the idea that they may start limiting some of the hunting that goes on there. This may lead us one step closer to stopping the cruel sport of trophy hunting.
Filed under: hunting | Tagged: animal cruelty, animal ethics, animal welfare, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, endangered species, environmental law, environmentalism, extinction, hunting, IUCN, trophy hunting |