Why do people hunt trophies 1

Killing animals for the trophy: trophy hunting and its consequences

If you book a hunting trip, you not only book flights, accommodation and food, but also book an animal that you can shoot during your vacation. Trophy hunting is generally understood to mean hunting and killing an animal with the intention ofto keep one or more of his body parts as a trophy. This can be the whole animal or its head, the antlers / horn, but also the foot, an elephant's tusk or another part of the body. This type of hunt is not about meat for nutrition. The hunters are more concerned with the "adventure" and the acquisition of status with which they can show off within their social group.

Prince Emanuel von Liechtenstein is said to have killed the largest brown bear in Europe for a trophy

Also Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein is said to have gone on a trophy hunt and shot Arthur, the largest brown bear in Europe, for a trophy in the Carpathian Mountains (Romania) in March 2021. Although the Bear hunting is prohibited in Romania and the animals are strictly protected in many parts of Europe the prince has received special permission - but for a female bear who is said to have attacked several farms in the past. Now, however, the 17-year-old big bear Arthur is dead, who from the perspective of trophy hunters is the "better" target.

The hunter's identity has not yet been officially confirmed by the authorities. Gabriel Paun, Agent Green activist, is certain: "It is obvious that the prince did not come to solve a problem that affects the villagers, but because of the trophy," said the activist, according to media reports.

The Prince and the Princely House have hardly commented on the allegations so far. "Personally, I do not want to get involved in the discussion in any way," said the prince to the Swiss "Blick". And the Princely House only emphasized to the news agency afp its attachment to the respect for nature, as reported by Focus Online. However, it did not want to comment further on this "private and personal matter".

Hunting trips for endangered animals

There is an extra for hunting trips Tour operators and hunting fairs, where e.g. German tourists can book a trip to Africa including the shooting of an elephant. That costs at least € 37,000. Hunting endangered and protected species is quite common. In 2017, for example, hunting quotas for 1,028 African elephants were legally free to be shot by trophy hunters, although their populations were decimated by around a third in eight years, according to the animal welfare organization Pro Wildlife. Even for the extremely endangered black rhinoceros hunting permits are repeatedly issued.

After the USA (which is by a large margin in first place) and Spain, Germany is the front runner in the hunt for endangered and protected species.

How many animals are killed for trophy hunting?

Exactly how many animals are killed per year due to trophy hunting is not that easy to say, because a large number of animals are not recorded at all. Figures for Germany are only available for those species that are protected by the Washington Convention on the Protection of Species (CITES).

In 2019Trophies from 750 CITES protected animals introduced to Germany. In 2020 there were 517. Although this year was dominated by travel restrictions due to the corona pandemic, that is a very high number. Here is an overview of which animals the trophies come from, among others:

Animals not protected by CITES are not included in these statistics, even if they are endangered, as Daniela Freyer from the animal welfare organization Pro Wildlife explains. She names them as an examplegiraffe. It was only protected by CITES at the end of 2019 and is therefore not yet included in the 2019 import figures. In 2020 the giraffe was also recorded and the numbers were frightening: trophies of 31 giraffes were introduced to Germany alone in 2020. So it becomes clear that there is a very high number of unreported cases on animals that have not been recorded.

The animal welfare organization "ifaw" analyzed the data from CITES and found that between 2004 and 2014 at least 1.7 million hunting trophies were traded worldwide. More than 200,000 of them came from endangered species. It is not known how many killed animals are hidden behind these trophies.

Why is it even allowed to import trophies of endangered animals into Germany?

Many people do not even realize how many Germans travel to different countries every year to hunt for trophies. Many also believe that this “is definitely forbidden in Germany”. But that's not it. But why not? Why is it allowed to import hunting trophies from endangered animals to Germany?

In Germany no one is allowed to “an animalcause pain, suffering or harm for no good reason ". That is what the Animal Welfare Act says. A reasonable reason is, for example, hunting for meat, i.e. for food production. One trophy does count, howeverNot to. That means: killing a wild boar in Germany just to take its tusks with you and "leave the rest" is forbidden. However, you are allowed to book a hunting trip to Poland, shoot a wild boar there and take your teeth with you to Germany. Or a whole giraffe neck with a head from South Africa. Or a brown bear fur from Canada.

The position of the federal government

Every EU country is legally free to to decide for yourselfwhether it allows the importation of game trophies of the CITES protected species or not. It is mandatory that the trophy comes from sustainable and legal hunting. In the case of protected species, evidence must be provided for this. But in practice it is often missing.

Germany could therefore prohibit the importation of hunting trophies for protected animals. France, for example, has banned the importation of lion trophies and the Netherlands has banned all CITES-protected species for which an import permit is required. In Germany it doesn't look like it so far, because the current federal government rejects a general import ban.In a background paper from the Ministry of the Environment it says:

“The federal government is not relying on a blanket import ban because this is not technically justified, but also in order not to endanger conservation projects that rely on income from hunting trophies. Instead, the federal government is successfully working to improve controls, depending on the situation in the country of origin, in order to ensure the sustainability of the hunt. "

At the same time, however, the ministry admits that in practice this is often not the case: “There are always cases in which trophy hunting does not meet the criteria of sustainability or is poorly managed and carried out. Abuses are mostly caused by corruption, too high quotas and insufficient supervision. ”Nevertheless, there does not seem to be any consequences from this.

In which countries does trophy hunting take place and which animals are affected?

Trophy hunting istheoretically possible all over the world, depending on the legal situation in the respective countries, and actually no animal per se is protected from it: From the wolf in Poland to the polar bear in Canada and the elephant in Africa, everything is possible. Depending on the country and type of animal, the prices are of course very different. Here are some examples:

Even the species strictly protected by CITES are nProtected only from commercial, international trade. Whether trophy hunting is allowed in such ways is in the power of the individual countries. They can forbid hunting “their” animals. And that is what countries where the tiger lives have done, e.g. India. Kenya has also banned trophy hunting for “its” animals, because thePhoto tourismis a more lucrative source of income for the country.

What consequences does trophy hunting have for the species populations of the animals?

That killing animals for just a trophy is highly questionable from an ethical and moral point of view is one thing. But that's not all. Because trophy hunting is also allowed on threatened and protected animals. It therefore arises theHow does trophy hunting affect the population of threatened species? and whether it can even contribute to the threat to animals.

Trophy hunting advocates argue that trophy hunting even has a positive effect on wildlife populations. In addition, the income from the hunting trips would also benefit the local population. The German Hunting Association, proponent of trophy hunting, says, for example:

“Hunting by guests and locals has a positive effect worldwide: The stocks of huntable game species in travel destinations around the world have been increasing for several decades or are stable at a high level. Hunting - especially by wealthy foreigners - gives wild animals an (economic) value locally, which is why the animals and their habitats are worth protecting for the local population. "

Like many other organizations, Pro Wildlife is very skeptical of this. "In fact, there are no studies or empirical data that would allow the unequivocal conclusion that trophy hunting is responsible for the growth of wildlife populations", says Daniela Freyer. “This is claimed across the board, without being proven by population figures.” On the other hand, figures on positive population development are taken out of context and used as if they were due to trophy hunting. “A graph with population growth is simply copied in and a causal connection is made for trophy hunting. Other factors such as stricter laws or improved protective measures are ignored, ”says Freyer.

Negative effects of trophy hunting

In many cases, trophy hunting is not as controlled and sustainable as is often claimed. In addition, there is a lot of corruption, which leads to excessive hunting quotas. As further problems says Freyer:

  • Animals from research programs are shot.
  • Animals that are not approved for hunting are killed.
  • Animals are lured out of protected areas and then shot.

There are alsoIndications of the negative effects of trophy hunting on animal populations of some kinds. As Freyer explains, this is well documented for lions, for example: According to scientific publications, hunting in many African countries, e.g. Tanzania, contributes to the decline in the lion population. It is probably similar with leopards.

The trophy hunt also has it wider negative consequences for wildlife populations:

  • AtLionsthe pack males are often shot because they are particularly attractive to the hunters. If that is the case, a new lion takes over the pack and kills the cubs of the previous leader to produce their own offspring. Thus, as a rule, several animals die when a lion is shot.
  • Atantlers and horned animals the hunters make a very selective selection: Above all, the strongest animals with the largest antlers / horns are shot. As a result, the hunters can influence the genetic composition of the population over the long term and there are no longer any animals with large horns.

Foreign hunting tour operators in particular benefit from the income from hunting trips, as Pro Wildlife reports. According to a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the local population receives at best a “starvation wage”: on average only $ 0.3 per person aims to get the local population out of hunting tourism yearly to earn.

Maybe interesting too


Here are some sources for studies that Pro Wildlife uses as a basis. They represent the negative effects of lion hunting as well as the problem of unnatural selection of trophy hunters:

  • Creel, S., M'soka, J., Dröge, E., Rosenblatt, E., Becker, M. S., Matandiko, W., & Simpamba, T. (2016). Assessing the sustainability of African lion trophy hunting, with recommendations for policy.Ecological Applications, 26(7), 2347-2357.
  • Packer, C., Kosmala, M., Cooley, HS, Brink, H., Pintea, L., Garshelis, D., Purchase, G., Strauss, M., Swanson, A., Balme, G., Hunter , L. & Nowell, K. (2009). Sport hunting, predator control and conservation of large carnivores.PloS one, 4(6), e5941.
  • Mweetwa, T., Christianson, D., Becker, M., Creel, S., Rosenblatt, E., Merkle, J., Dröge, E., Mwape, H., Masonde, J. & Simpamba, T. ( 2018). Quantify-ing lion (Panthera leo) demographic response following a three-year moratorium on trophy hunting. PloS one, 13 (5), e0197030.
  • Selier, S. A. J., Page, B. R., Vanak, A. T., & Slotow, R. (2014). Sustainability of elephant hunting across international borders in southern Africa: A case study of the greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area.The Journal of Wildlife Management, 78(1), 122-132.
  • Coltman, D., O'Donoghue, P., Jorgenson, J.et al.(2003) Undesirable evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting.Nature426655–658.
  • Palazy, L., Bonenfant, C., Gaillard, J. M., & Courchamp, F. (2011). Cat dilemma: too protected to escape trophy hunting ?. PloS one, 6 (7), e22424.
  • Knell, R. J., & Martínez-Ruiz, C. (2017). Selective harvest focused on sexual signal traits can lead to extinction under directional environmental change. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284 (1868), 20171788.
  • Coulson, T., Schindler, S., Traill, L., & Kendall, B. E. (2018). Predicting the evolutionary consequences of trophy hunting on a quantitative trait. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 82 (1), 46-56.
  • Frank, Shane C., et al. "Indirect Effects of Bear Hunting: a Review from Scandinavia."Ursus, vol. 28, no. 2, 2017, pp. 150-164.JSTOR.