How does trophy hunting affect wild animal populations? © Getty Images

How does trophy hunting affect wild animal populations?

It may help raise funds for conservation efforts, but this controversial practice also removes the strongest, healthiest members from the gene pool.

Asked by: Steven White, Bromley

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Since the days of the Roman Empire, wild animals have been slaughtered to prove power and wealth. Bigger is better when it comes to this ‘sport’, which means that dominant, mature male rhinos, elephants, lions, leopards and other animals are the prime targets of hunters.

The artificially premature loss of strong, healthy individuals takes vital genes out of the breeding pool which, over time, can result in an overall decline in body size and, where applicable, also horn or tusk size.

Removing these frontline animals also undermines social cohesion and can leave members of prides and herds vulnerable to attack by other members of their own species. Although some argue that money from trophy hunting can help with conservation, there is not enough evidence to convince us that it can.


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