Do conservation and trophy hunting really go together?

Don’t know how many of you have seen this article in National Geographic

Do conservation and trophy hunting really go together?

We have all heard about the shooting of Cecil the Lion and many will also have heard about the auction of a black rhino by the Dallas Safari Club in 2013.  In this new article we are told that they are now auctioning off 600 animals to be hunted in 32 countries in Africa, Europe, Oceana, and the Americas.  They expect 20,000 bidders and this is only a few days after a similar auction in Texas which had 51,000 bidders.  This will raise millions of dollars which the Club claim will “make a vital contribution to conservation efforts”!

What hypocrisy.  How can the killing of endangered species be called “conservation”?   Let’s be clear about what it actually is.  These people clearly enjoy killing and so try to justify it by saying that it helps conservation.

But what is worse is that the Dallas Safari Club are actually members of IUCN – that is the International Union for the CONSERVATION OF NATURE?  On their web page IUCN say their “vision is a just world that values and conserves nature.  Our mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”  When they used the word “value” I didn’t realise they meant in terms of how much money it could raise for hunters.

At IOSF we are working to stop the illegal trade in wildlife, especially otters.  Most of this trade is driven by poverty, particularly in Asia where people are trying to earn a little extra for their family.  These American hunters are not driven by poverty – they are driven by greed and the love of killing.  And they have no place in any organisation with a conservation mission.

And while we are trying to stop the illegal trade in furs, we find that IUCN also has members who are part of the fur trade – the Fur Institute of Canada and the International Fur Trade Federation.  Of course they will claim that they are trading in legal furs which are from “sustainable” sources, but again we would question this. Over 40,000 otters are killed each year in North America and in 21 states in USA otters were reintroduced after becoming extinct – now in 14 of these states it is legal to kill them again.  These figures do not take into account those animals which are caught by “accident” when trapping for other species – this must be high as in December 2015 one person caught 2 otters within 10 days in Indiana when trapping for beaver. Is this sustainable?  How can we know if we don’t even have the figures for actual population numbers.

IOSF is not a member of IUCN for the very reason that we cannot be part of an organisation which has members such as the Dallas Safari Club and the fur organisations.  We also believe that the IUCN Otter Specialist Group and other members of IUCN should be standing up and asking questions about these issues. We believe in true conservation without killing for profit.