Trophy hunting
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This article has been written by Arkadyuti Sarkar, a student pursuing his B.A.LL.B from Shyambazar Law College under the University of Calcutta. This article discusses why sport hunting is cruel and unnecessary.


There existed a time when Royals, Barons, and other aristocrats would go hunting bears, deers, tigers, wild boars, rhinoceroses or other wild creatures. After finishing them off they would return with their carcasses, peel off the skins, and hang them on the wall of their drawing room or use them as a carpet.

This hunting was a matter of great pride for the aristocrats and often regarded as a sign of elitism and regality. However, with time legislations have penalized trophy hunting or sports hunting.

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Nevertheless, not every nation around the globe has illegalized trophy hunting. Sports hunting still continues nowadays and sometimes even in an illegal manner. 

In the next few passages and paragraphs, we shall learn in detail about sport or trophy hunting, arguments in its favor and arguments against it, and the alternative remedies for countering this so-called regal recreation. 

Sport Hunting

Sport hunting or trophy hunting is a hunting wild game purported to human recreation. In this game, the trophy is usually the corpse of the animal or parts of the animal, representing the success of the hunting game. The hunted animal is usually an ornamented male. 

For eg: the one having large horns or antlers. In general, only parts of the animal; such as skin, head, horns, antlers, etc are kept as the trophy, while the carcass goes into being consumed as food. Sometimes, however, the skin is delivered to the taxidermist in exchange for money. This is a rare scenario though as such an act undermines the elitism involved with the game.

The hunters usually keep these animal trophies for display in their home or office and often keep them in specially designed trophy rooms. Sometimes, the hunting weapons involved in the hunting game are being kept for display as well.

Sports/Trophy hunting Statistics

Trophy hunters imported over 1.26 million trophies into the United States of America, in the 10 years from 2005 to 2014. Canada was one of the leading sources of imported trophies.

From 2005 to 2014, the top ten trophy species which were imported into the United States:

  1. Snow Goose (111,366)
  2. Mallard Duck (104,067)
  3. Canada Goose (70,585)
  4. American Black Bear (69,072)
  5. Impala (58,423)
  6. Blue Wildebeest (52,473)
  7. Greater Kudu (50,759)
  8. Gemsbok (40,664)
  9. Springbok (34,023)
  10. Bontebok (32,771)

From 2005 to 2014, the ‘Big Five’ trophy species which were imported into the United States, aggregating about 32,500 lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards combined, from Africa include:

  1. African Buffalo,
  2. African Elephant,
  3. African Lion,
  4. African Leopard,
  5. Southern White Rhino.

Predominant Regions

Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, New Zealand are some of the major nations where sports/trophy hunting is primarily witnessed.

South Africa consists of the largest hunting industry in the world, and it’s the second most popular source of American trophy imports. Trophy hunting has been practiced in Africa since time immemorial and is still practiced in many African nations.

Shocking facts related to sports/trophy hunting

  1. In the last 2 decades, trophy hunting has been the cause of death of around 78000 mountain lions.
  2. Mexico contains a hunting industry which is valued at approximately $200 million with around 4,000 hunting ranches.
  3. Big names like Teddy Roosevelt and George W Bush are associated with sports/trophy hunting.
  4. A 21-day lion hunt can range from $52,500 to $70,000.

The legality of Sports Hunting

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was passed with an intent to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. The following are some specified objectives of the Act:

  • Declaring certain forms of cruelty as offenses and providing necessary penalties for them.
  • Establishing an Animal Welfare Board to promote measures for animal welfare. 

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is a comprehensive legislation relating to the problem of wildlife in India and was passed by the Parliament under Article 252 of the Constitution of India at the request of 11 States. This Act has a view to assure the ecological and environmental security enshrines the provisions relating to the protection of wild animals, birds, plants, and their habitat.

Sports hunting, however, has legal sanctions in many countries, such as African nations. However, there are certain restrictions on the species that can be hunted down, during hunting season, the number of animals an individual can hunt down and the weapons that can be used for hunting purposes.

Hunting permits and government consent are also the requirements. Specific laws related to trophy hunting differ based on the criteria mentioned, and some counties have already put a blanket on sports hunting.

Arguments held in favor of sports/trophy hunting

Now there exist some advocates of sports hunting and they put up some arguments favoring it. Let us see some of the benefits arising from sports hunting as per their contention. 

Creation of conservation incentives

Trophy hunting results in the creation of conservation incentives in places lacking viability of ecotourism, either due to its economic infeasibility or remoteness of the location.

Protection of different Species

The allotment of the land done for the purpose of sport hunting is capable of protecting various species that cannot be protected otherwise. Putting a ban on trophy hunting is likely to transform the allotted land in generating more money, most probably for agricultural or pastoral activities. However, this would negatively affect wildlife and reduce the available habitat.

Generation of significant revenue

Most African nations suffer from funding deficits in animal conservation. Significant revenue is generated from sport hunting which acts as a funding source for these conservational programs.

Beneficial to the locals and the wildlife

Trophy hunting, if done with correctness, is capable of benefiting the local population through employment, money, and food. It can also benefit the regional wildlife.
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Maximization of Wildlife Populations

Hunting managers build and maintain waterholes and attempt towards maximizing wildlife populations for making it sustainable, whereas in ecotourism there is the existence of less necessity for large populations as a few individuals of a species are enough for satisfying people and profit maximization.

Lesser footprints compared to ecotourism

Sports hunting has a smaller carbon footprint count in comparison to ecotourism as fewer people generate higher revenue with lesser flights. Also, hunters need lesser infrastructure, meaning lesser degradation in habitat. Moreover, hunters do not mind going for hunting in lesser developed areas, therefore even remote areas can generate higher revenue.

Incentivizes locals in tolerating beasts

Generally, local inhabitants in various wild regions suffer from the attacks of beastly creatures like tigers, panthers, lions, and others. However, if they acquire money from sports hunting they would be incentivized to tolerate these beastly creatures. 

Why is it cruel and unnecessary?

Destruction of nature

Wildlife is an inherent part of nature. Through wildlife, the ecological balance of nature is maintained and preserved. Sports hunting results in the indiscriminate killing of wild animals and thereby inflicts a blow to the natural ecological equilibrium. For example, endangerment or extinction of one form, e.g. tiger, results in the multiplicity of another form of wildlife creatures upon which that tiger would have predated for its survival.

Also, sports hunting disrupts the migration and hibernation of the animals. This is because when animals migrate, they are prone to be hunted down, and therefore they may not hibernate.

Also, the theory that sports hunting has a lesser carbon footprint due to lesser use of flights is a vague theory. The hunters while going to the hunting site may use a jeep or any other form of vehicles emitting an enormous quantity of CO2 into the atmosphere, thereby making additions to the carbon footprint. Upon arrival at the hunting spot, the hunters set up a campsite. In such campsites, there are lots of emission of campfire smokes which make further additions to the carbon footprint. There are also human litters on the grounds which may cause animals to choke, thereby endangering both the wildlife and the environment.

Destruction of wildlife

Sports hunting has drastic consequences on wildlife. Several species of animals are already endangered as some parts of the creature were deemed valuable. Again, some species have been driven to extinction because of sports hunting. According to the news reports of Mother Nature News, there are 13 species of animals that have undergone extinction within the past 200 years, ranging from Tasmanian Tigers to Passenger Pigeons.

Cruelty against animals

A clean shot is akin to the same thing which occurs at a slaughterhouse where a butcher prepares an animal for food. The injuries inflicted on the animals when the hunters miss a shot lead to a higher degree of suffering. Some injuries are such that they render the animal unsuitable for human consumption. Any form of injury is painful, however, if an animal sustains the injury and yet manages to live then the resultant suffering is more severe than instant death.

It is more sport than a necessity

For our ancestors, hunting was never about finding a trophy for hanging on the wall or using a carpet for the drawing-room. They hunted for availing food and sometimes for survival. In modern times, however, hunting has emerged as a sporting event rather than survival means, where some hunters even pose with their kill while having absolute disregard to what happens with the corpse. Hunting merely for sporting opportunity, thus shows an overall lack of concern and respect for nature.
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Leading towards abusive practices

Some hunters have gone for luring and feeding stations, especially during deer hunting as a method for making it easier to fill the deer tags. Deer feeding adds a domestication level to the animals and removes multiple benefits that are spoken of while having discussions on the joys of hunting. It is like going to the barn, killing a cow for beef, and then declaring oneself as a great hunter.

Chances of fatalities

Previously, on multiple occasions, sports hunting has resulted in fatal accidents. Sports hunting without complying with the rules could result in serious injuries and death to other humans. Carelessness during hunting can be dangerous to other members of a hunting team, passersby and even the hunter himself. Thus, it is better that such dangerous activities are banned in absolution.

A costly venture

The whole process required for becoming a full-fledged hunter can be a bit of a costly affair.

Firstly, the cost related to obtaining hunting gear, clothing, bows or firearms, etc can be huge. Moreover, there are additional accessories like rifle scope which means additional cost. Again, for obtaining a hunting license there is a requirement of funding around 1528 INR. In certain scenarios, the hunter may be required to pay other forms of charges for a specific animal. All these costs aggregate into a gigantic amount which might be an expensive venture for many.

Other Victims

Hunting accidents result in the destruction of property and inflict injuries or result in the death of horses, cows, dogs, cats, hikers, and other hunters. In 2006, then, Vice President Dick Cheney, shot a friend while hunting quails on a canned hunting preserve. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, injuries in 1000 are attributed to hunting in the U.S. every year, and that number only includes incidents involving humans.

The bears, cougars, deer, foxes, and other animals who are chased, trapped, and hunted down through dogs are not the only sufferers from this Sports variant. Dogs used for hunting are often kept chained or penned and are denied routine veterinary checks involving vaccinations and heartworm medications. Some are lost during hunts forever, whereas others are turned loose at the end of hunting season to fend for themselves, and die of starvation, or get struck by vehicles.

Reforms and possible alternatives

The pivotal anti-hunting move can be of course done through strict legislation that would ban hunting safaris. Also, additionally, strict penal provisions are to be legislated for violation of the hunting ban. In many nations, such as India, there is a blanket ban on hunting as it houses various endangered animal species.

Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 contains various provisions related to wildlife preservation, the establishment of sanctuaries, zoos, etc throughout the country.

However, this is not the case in many African countries, South American nations and even in the USA. In all these nations, hunting is deemed legal as a way of wildlife conservation. In the UK hunting is partly legal.

So, it can be noticed that hunting is yet considered legal in many nations, including the developed ones. The only way to counter this is an international consensus towards a blanket ban on any form of hunting. International agreements and treaties, banning hunting altogether, after ratification by various nations might prove effective. However, it is quite possible that many nations will oppose the ban and argue in favor of sports hunting. Therefore, the only way to make them cater to an agreement on the ban would be to acknowledge them about the higher number of disadvantages brought about by sports hunting.


So far, we have been acknowledged about what sports hunting is, the legality of sport hunting, shocking facts related to sports hunting, regions with predominance in sports hunting, critically analyzed sports hunting and have compared their advantages and disadvantages, and have introspected the remedial alternatives to sports hunting.

Thus, it can be inferred in the conclusion that it is no doubt that sport hunting not only destabilizes the ecological equilibrium but also inflicts cruelty upon the animals. Moreover, it is an expensive venture and risky too. So, sports hunting ultimately comes with a higher number of worsening effects over the bettering ones. 

Thus, we wait for the arrival of such a day when sports hunting shall be illegalized all across the globe, and in turn, the animals manage to live and roam free within their natural habitat without the fear of being hunted down.


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