Trophy hunting is widely used in Africa to generate funding for wildlife areas.
In 2015, a global media frenzy resulted from the illegal killing of a radiocollared
lion, “Cecil,” by a trophy hunter in Zimbabwe. Trophy hunting is contentious
and much of the media discourse is emotional and polarized, focusing
on animal welfare and debating the value of hunting as a conservation tool.
We use the Cecil incident to urge a change in the focus of discussion and make
a call for global action.We highlight the dual challenge to African governments
posed by the need to fund vast wildlife estates and provide incentives for conservation
by communities in the context of growing human populations and
competing priorities. With or without trophy hunting, Africa’s wildlife areas
require much more funding to prevent serious biodiversity loss. In light of this,
we urge a shift away from perpetual debates over trophy hunting to the more
pressing question of “How do we fund Africa’s wildlife areas adequately?” We
urge the international community to greatly increase funding and technical
support for Africa’s wildlife estate. Concurrently, we encourage African
governments and hunters to take decisive steps to reform hunting industries
and address challenges associated with that revenue generating option.