Trophy Hunters Become Donors to Preserve African Wildlife

What if sport and trophy hunters spent their money on live instead of dead animals? 

Kruger National Park African Elephant in river

I was inspired by Bradley’s Open Letter to WWF and the huge response from our readers.

People who care about wildlife donate to organizations involved in conservation no strings attached. Hunters ‘give to’ wildlife conservation in exchange for a dead animal. What if we could change that, what if we could make givers out of takers? You might be saying, “That will never happen!”

Hang with me for a bit as we look at some of the facts and then turn just one thing on its head.

Fact: Trophy hunters bring in big bucks for game ranchers. I didn’t say wildlife conservation, I said game ranchers, the owners of the farms that stock wild animals. [R306M/$28M in 2009 in South Africa]

Fact: Many farmers have traded in their cattle for wildlife, specific species that hunters pay handsomely to kill. For the farmer, like the cattle, the wildlife is a business commodity. [Over 10,000 game ranches in South Africa]

The hunting associations and hunters in general like to call themselves wildlife conservationists touting that without the money coming in from hunters many wildlife species would not survive.

Yes, the numbers of certain species (the ones hunters like to shoot) have increased. However, it’s not all about numbers, it’s about habitat and ecosystems too. It’s about preserving the wild natural environment where predator and prey of all kinds live freely.

However, let’s give trophy hunters the benefit of the doubt for a minute and accept that they really do care about wildlife conservation and that they do believe that their money contributes to the preservation of wildlife species.

Years ago as a therapist I learned that my clients had a rough time giving up a bad habit, no matter how destructive it was, no matter how bad the impact on their life. Somehow simply giving it up or finding ways to muster the will power rarely worked. Why? Because despite the negative effect somewhere there was a reward.

My challenge then was to first, help my client identify the reward. For a smoker it could be looking cool (I practiced decades ago) and a sex offender a sense of power. May I venture to guess that the reward for the trophy hunter (it can’t be the thrill of the chase for there is none in canned hunting) probably ranges from looking cool to feeling powerful.

Once the reward was identified my client and I would brainstorm more healthy behaviors (sports, hobbies, work) that had a similar reward. The key was the psychological reward for the negative and positive behavior were similar and thus the latter could more readily replace the former. Did any of them turn into addictions? Of course, addictive personality types deal with excessive issues.

Back to our trophy hunter. What if their reward for shooting an animal and hanging its dead head on their wall could be replaced by donating the same amount of money to real wildlife conservation projects?

What if they were recognized with a huge photographic image of an elephant, lion, leopard or rhino to hang on their wall? Maybe along with a plaque thanking them for their generous donation. What if the thrill of the hunt was replaced with the thrill of rescuing an orphaned elephant or rhino calf?

What if we could transform trophy hunters into donors to preserve wildlife in its natural habitat?

What if that $28M (now probably considerably more) went directly towards preserving current and developing new habitat for balanced predator-prey ecosystems?

Then reformed sport hunters could truly call themselves wildlife conservationists of the very best kind.

Huge Price Tags on their Heads!

What if we could change it to their real value… “Priceless”?

Price Tag Wildlife Species Trophy Hunting 2009 South Africa 645x

Source: DEA 2009 – Wildlife Price Tags by Species

Where the Trophy Hunters come from!

Apparently we in the USA have the most reforming work to do.

Trophy hunters country of origin 2010 DEA stats 645x

Source: DEA 2009 – Where the Trophy / Sport Hunters come from

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6 Responses to Trophy Hunters Become Donors to Preserve African Wildlife

  1. Lynda Corkum June 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Wonderful idea! It would take compassion and respect for the animals in order for it to happen…not sure that is something that can be learned but I fear earnestly hope so!

    • Wildlife Margrit June 19, 2014 at 9:37 am #

      Definitely an idea worth peculating I think Lynda.

  2. Kerry June 20, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    It sure would be great if these trophy hunters would give the money they pay out in tags, without expecting anything in return but, I don’t see that happening. They hunt because they love to kill..end of story!
    Trophy hunter, Corey Knowlton was offered the wonderful opportunity to work with Live Trophy, and on sell his tag to them, in return for keeping the Critically Endangered Black Rhino he was set to kill, alive. They said they would pay the costs of relocating the animal and, he and his young family would have a living, breathing trophy in honour of the compromise. He refused the offer. Made excuses as to why he would not negotiate with them and, refused to return correspondence. Fact is, he just wants the thrill he will get from killing the animal. Visiting and photographing a near extinct Rhino that you were instrumental in saving, obviously does not hold the same thrill to this man as it would to the majority of us.
    To change, you have to want to, or be forced to. Sadly these Trophy hunters don’t want to, and will not be forced to until their hobby is banned or, all wildlife is dead. Whichever comes first.

    • Wildlife Margrit June 20, 2014 at 11:19 am #

      Gosh Kerry! Thanks for bringing up Live Trophy and their offer. We adults are hard to ‘reform’. We get set in our ways… however, the younger generation… they can be influenced. And influence them we must.

    • Alice Susan Harding June 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      Sadly, I think the majority enjoy the actual kill.

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