Worst Trophy Ever

One man’s treasure is another man’s tragedy

The wisest animal in Africa no longer has the protection it needs from our country. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service “withdrew previous rulings on trophy hunting and said the agency would allow sport hunters to receive permits for the trophy items on a “case-by-case basis,” according to the Washington Post.

Elephants are not the only animals in danger. Rhinoceros, buffalos, big cats of Africa, crocodiles, and other animals at risk from poachers. They are used for making rugs, belts, purses, and boots from their skins. Some are even stuffed as trophies. But what can we do?

Sharing a meme makes us feel good, but we need to be careful about sharing the wrong information.

Indeed, a popular post on the internet suggests that groups have painted rhinoceros and elephant tusks pink so poachers don’t kill them. It’s sort of fake news, though. “The truth is simply that dying a tusk pink is simply not a realistic way to deter a poacher,” according to the KOTA Foundation, a group that teaches exclusively about African elephants. “First, there is the problem of capturing an elephant. They have to be anesthetized the same as rhino. This can be quite difficult and many times the animals don’t wake up as an unintended consequence for “trying to save them.”

For a while, it seemed like something was being done. A task force was set up by former President Barack Obama in 2013 to curb wildlife trafficking.

“President Obama established the task force with a July 013 executive order. It directed 17 federal agencies to support anti-poaching activities, including reduction in costumer demand for products that no one really needs, like souvenirs and trinkets made from elephant tusks. FWS estimated that in 2012 one elephant was killed for its ivory every 15 minutes,” according to the Washington Post.

At the time, international trade in the “illegal merchandise was worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually in 2013,” the aforementioned article found. The Obama administration saw some successes with halting the animal poaching and even had bipartisan support. In September of 2016, final approval was given for the Eliminate, Neutralize, and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act of 2016, sponsored by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Edward R. Royce (R-Calif). The legislation supported increased assistance to local officials fighting poachers “who are often armed with night-vision goggles, heavy weaponry, and even helicopters,” according to Royce’s office.

The Trump administration move can bring back this climate of illegal trade. There is no reason to kill beautiful, sentient animals for their tusks. This sport is cruel and leads to the endangerment of animals. Furthermore, there are no economic benefits to trophy hunting despite some suggestions to the contrary. “The suggestion that trophy hunting plays a significant role in African economic development is misguided,” said economist Rod Campbell, lead author of a study for International Fund for Animal Welfare.“Revenues constitute only a fraction of a percent of GDP and almost none of that ever reaches rural communities.”

The study found that trophy hunting revenue never “accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting, and even pro-hunting sources find that only 3 percent of the money actually reaches the rural communities where hunting occurs.”

Trophy hunting supporters claim that hunting generates $200 million annually in rural Africa. That is an insignificant figure and the cost is even worse. We could drive these animals to extinction.

Allison Ayala can be reached at [email protected]