As a result of the Trump Administration recently announcing a decision to let trophy hunting imports into the United States on a case by case basis, many animal conservation organizations are suing to prevent this, arguing that the decision violates the Endangered Species Act. These conservation groups include the Humane Society International and the Center for Biological Diversity. By bringing these lawsuits against the decision, these groups are bringing more attention to the barbaric and cruel pastime known as trophy hunting. Thousands of animals are killed globally every year simply for sport or for “trophies,” such as ivory tusks from elephants. This practice is not only cruel and brutish but also cowardly and pathetic. America has been faced with popular news stories regarding trophy hunting over the past few years, one notable example being the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015, and another being the pictures of Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. with trophy-hunted carcasses.
These stories have rightly caused outrage over the terrible practice.
Trophy hunting is often part of a business, often peddled by the Safari Club International (SCI). This organization encourages wealthy hunters to kill animals for rewards and import them back to America. Animals often targeted include lions, elephants and rhinos . This is a despicable practice that has no place in a civilized society. Killing animals is not a sport, and it does not make you a more interesting person, merely a smaller one. If you feel the need to spend a vacation targeting and shooting beautiful animals just to bring back a trophy that serves as a reminder of the kill, then it demonstrates that you are a person of abhorrent character. Much of the time, it is not even a challenge to bring these animals down; professional guides may bait animals with food so that hunters can more easily find and kill them, or traps may be used to trap the animal until the hunter can shoot them. It is truly despicable to see how far one will go in order to feel the false thrill of being a “hunter,” as Donald Trump Jr. calls himself. With the recent news of the death of the last male northern white rhino, animal conservation is back in the news cycle. Many argue that, ironically, trophy hunting can aid animal conservation efforts because wealthy people pay great sums in order to have the chance to hunt exotic animals, and these funds can be applied to conservation programs. However, this is assuming that the funds will actually be used for this purpose; in many regions where trophy hunting is rampant, so is corruption ( https://www.vox.com/2018/3/7/17091000/ban-lifted-elephant-trophy-hunting). For instance, Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe, where there is much political unrest, making conservation efforts not a priority. We cannot trust that trophy hunting will help conservation efforts, especially if more animals are being hunted anyway. Instead, countries should focus on raising money for conservation efforts from other tourist activities such as safaris where the animals are appreciated for their beauty, not killed in order to satisfy someone’s fragile ego.
It is a bit concerning that Trump has allowed some trophy animals to potentially be imported into the United States on a case-by-case basis. He has expressed disgust with the practice himself, calling trophy hunting a “horror show”; however, it is likely that he wants the case by case clause in order to satisfy his sons, who participate in trophy hunting. This is especially frustrating because this is not a complete condemnation of trophy hunting, which is what we need from the President of the United States. Trophy hunting is a vile activity, and Americans should not be encouraged to engage in it. The first step in finally changing the attitude towards it completely is banning the importation of carcasses into the United States; Trump should make a moral stand for once and make all cases illegal.
Ben Crnic is a contributor for the The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.