Animal Rights And Trophy Hunting
Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals for one’s own
pleasure. The animals hunted are frequently big animals such as rhinos,
elephants, lions, pumas, and bears and this deed is done under the official
government license. The trophy is the animal or its valuable parts that the
hunter keeps as a souvenir.
Evidence of trophy hunting can be traced back to the late 19th century. The
first official record of trophy hunting available is from 1892 from a man named
Rowland Ward. He outlined what he called the ‘Horn Measurements and Weights of
the Great Game of the World’. Paintings from the Mughal period depict Mongol,
Rajput, Turk, and Afghan nobility hunting from elephant or horseback. These
outings were considered an extrinsic, heroic sport—and animals were the ultimate
In India, the Mughal emperor’s pursuits of trophy hunting are not only deemed
unethical—or even illegal from today’s point of view but also barbaric in
general terms. In the 17th century, such legalistic and ethical understanding
was yet to emerge. Staging elaborate big game hunts was also a favourite pastime
for the British Raj who succeeded the Mughals, an activity that showcased their
royalty, power, and wealth.
Some support trophy hunting on account of its economic value as it provides a
substantial income to local communities through trade and development of
tourism. Another argument presented by those in favour of this practice is that
it helps in keeping the wildlife population in check and also ensures the
stability of the food chain as it wipes out excess population. Tanzania which is
the home for forty percent of the lion population of the African continent
claims that the animal population is not harmed in any way due to trophy
To this, the director of Tanzanian Wildlife, Alexander Songarwa presented a
report in the New York Times about Saving Lions by Killing Them. According to
his statistics, trophy hunting had added $75 million to the Tanzanian economy.
On the other hand, various resources deny the claim of trophy hunting being
economically viable. More often than not, healthy male animals are hunted by
wealthy foreign hunters thereby destabilizing populations. The animals that are
left behind suddenly become comparatively more dominant and kill their cubs.
Second, this practice can be termed as counter-revolutionary because it is being
selective about large and robust males.
Third, this punctures the arguments often made that such hunting contributes to
other-wise poor communities. Going by reports of even pro-hunting organizations,
not more than 3% of the revenue collected from trophy hunting reaches the
communities that are affected by it.
Other studies have similarly exhibited that the revenue generated through this
practice does not reach people who live in these areas. Communities from Zambia
and Botswana claim that the wild animals which were left behind after they
banned trophy hunting would kill livestock and destroy crops.
Several articles argue that the debate and discussions on trophy hunting are
wrongly pitched between those who consider hunting economically beneficial and
those who don’t. In essence, both generate an illusion of empirics with ethical
reasoning getting a backseat. This argument can be explained by the given
If one claims that the building of multipurpose dams generates electricity or
water supply for city dwellers, industrialists, and farmers and then generates
data that supports the argument, one cannot prove that wrong empirically. It is
only when we look at the argument normatively or ethically, do we realize its
dubiousness. This reasoning is thus based on utilitarianism which states that if
benefits increase the cost of a project, it is morally and ethically correct
where benefits are being understood in the orthodox economic sense.
It is argued that if certain animals are allowed to be hunted, the rest could be
cared for better. This insinuates that certain species of animals are made
scapegoats so that other species can live. This resembles the arguments of
those who advance the political majoritarian sentiments. Here lies the
indispensable case of speciesism—a one-way value-creation regarding animals.
Individualism is taken as a human trait, not that of animals.
Animals are so non-individualistic that anyone can eliminate some from a species
without raising much dust. This understanding allows a few animals to be hunted
for the sake of majorities. Classical individualism is normally held as an
antidote to sexism, racism as well as speciesism
Thus, trophy hunting is extrapolated from utilitarian reasoning. It not only
plays havoc with the environment but also justifies and reinforces the
underlying belief that the environment is an unrelated or irrelevant domain for
economic benefits. This practice takes away the agency of essentially voiceless
beings, it denies the individuality of animals and militates against their right
to exist. From any ethical point of view, rationalizing animal killings for the
sake of entertainment is untenable.
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