Professor Bunnefeld said: “In order to make decisions on trophy hunting, we need to have a holistic view and assess the evidence from a variety of angles including social, economic and ecosystem perspective. Trophy hunting, when well managed, can have positive effects on both wildlife populations and people’s livelihoods.”
Dr Cusack added: “Robust science underpinning the management of trophy hunting is absolutely crucial. The tools used to support decision-making are constantly improving as we increase our understanding of wildlife responses, human behaviour and governance. Trophy hunting is an emotional issue, but it is only through well-informed and unbiased decision-making that we can ensure wildlife populations and humans will coexist in the long-term.”
There are high-profile campaigns to ban trophy hunting, with several governments having already legislated again it. Calls for such bans typically cite conservation concerns, however, the authors of the letter – led by the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford – highlight evidence challenging this assumption.
They also argue that ending trophy hunting risks land conversion and biodiversity loss and that it can provide income for marginalised and impoverished rural communities.
The letter concludes: “Some people find trophy hunting repugnant (including many of us), but conservation policy that is not based on science threatens habitat and biodiversity and risks disempowering and impoverishing rural communities.”