A female trophy hunter is shown posing with a dead body of a lion, she holds up her rifle for a photograph and a South African man behind the lens encourages her, saying: “That was a really good shot, princess. The best we’ve had all season.” He then sets the camera to a timer so that he can join the woman for a few photographs with her kill. Then things take a seriously dark turn.
Trophy hunting is the selective hunting of wild game for human recreation. The trophy is the animal or part of the animal kept, and usually displayed, to represent the success of the hunt. The game sought is typically a large or impressively ornamented male, such as one having large horns or antlers. Generally, only parts of the animal are kept as a trophies (usually the head, skin, horns or antlers) and the carcass itself is used for food or donated to the local community.
Trophies are often displayed in the hunter’s home or office, and often in specially designed “trophy rooms,” sometimes called “game rooms” or “gun rooms,” in which the hunter’s weaponry is displayed as well. Trophy hunting has both firm supporters and strong opponents. Debates surrounding trophy hunting centrally concern not only the question of the morality of recreational hunting and supposed conservation efforts of big-game and ranch hunting, but also the observed decline in animal species that are targets for trophy hunting.
Ranch hunting is a form of big-game hunting where the animals hunted are specifically bred on a ranch for trophy hunting purposes. Many species of game such as the Indian blackbuck, nilgai, axis deer, barasingha, the Iranian red sheep, and variety of other species of deer, sheep, and antelope from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific islands were introduced to ranches in Texas and Florida for the sake of trophy hunting. These animals are typically hunted on a fee for each kill, with hunters paying $4,000 or more to be able to hunt exotic game. As many of these species are endangered or threatened in their native habitat, the United States’ government requires 10% of the hunting fee to be given to conservation efforts in the areas where these animals are indigenous. Hunting of endangered animals in the United States is normally illegal under the Endangered Species Act, but is permitted on these ranches since the rare animals hunted there are not indigenous to the United States.
The Humane Society of the United States has criticized these ranches and their hunters with the reasoning that they are still hunting endangered animals even if the animals were raised specifically to be hunted. Trophy hunting has been practiced in Africa and is still a practiced in many African countries. According to a study sponsored by International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the revenue generated by hunting tourism in seven Southern African Development Communities (SADC) in 2008 was approximately 190 million USD.