Hunting and protection have always had a symbiotic relationship. Hunting and security, on the other hand, may appear to be mutually exclusive at first glance. According to history, there is a mutualistic relationship between hunters and the environment. Hunting’s effect on biodiversity and conservation has been examined extensively, and the findings suggest that hunting will contribute to biodiversity protection because of the many goals it pursues (Arroyo et al. 847). Many of the objectives of conservation, for example, include ensuring a stable animal population, protecting natural environments, and reducing limiting factors in the animals’ climate. Nevertheless, hunting can have adverse effects on biodiversity mainly because of some specific management activities performed in very unsuitable ways. Moreover, hunting can have the positive impact on certain species of animals, but not others and the overall benefit of hunting on biodiversity depends on the relative value attached to the different animals (Arroyo et al. 847). In this paper, therefore, the article shall highlight the relationship between wildlife conservation and hunting. Overall, there should be the identification of those hunting practices that have a positive effect on biodiversity and favored over those that have an adverse impact.
History of Hunting and Wildlife Conservation in the USA
From a layman perspective, it may seem that hunting and wildlife conservation are two activities, which always conflict each other. After all, the hunting of animals for example elephants for their tusks diminishes their numbers, and this would end up being detrimental. However, in the history of the United States of America, hunting and conservation are related, and over a century both have worked mutually to enhance the preservation of wildlife in the US. As early as the 19th century, hunters in the United States killed wild animals without any forms of regulation, and this resulted in the diminishing of certain species of animals, for example, the buffalo to near extinction (Dickson, Hutton and Adams 128). Because of the widespread and unregulated hunting, this actions caught the eye of people in the government that wanted to preserve wildlife in the US.
However, it took the actions of an outdoorsman the then President Theodore Roosevelt, to come up with government measures aimed at setting down the regulations for hunting and the formation of conservation groups in the US (Dickson, Hutton and Adams 272). Because of this, around the United States all hunters are required to purchase licenses, tags, and stamps that provide for the conservation efforts in the US. Moreover, the US enforces certain seasons for the hunting of specific animals, and they also limit the number that can be killed. According to Dickson, Hutton and Adams, such actions raise about $200 million, and this amount goes to support the wildlife, the protection of the environment, provision of hunters’ safety courses, and hunter education (259). All these actions assist in the creation of responsible US citizens that can support the conservation measures in the US. For example, in the US, there is the Federal Duck Stamp that a hunter is required to purchase to hunt the waterfowl (Dickson, Hutton and Adams 272). Of note, the proceeds emanating from the stamp have allowed for the purchase of up to five million acres of land. The land provides a safe habitat for the waterfowl and many other animal species. In the world, the United States of America wildlife conservation mechanisms are not only unique in terms of the relationship between hunting and conservation but also innovative.
Difference between Poaching and Trophy Hunting
While people wrongly lump together poaching and trophy hunting, these two concepts are different despite both resulting in the death of animals. The massive increase of wildlife poaching mostly in Africa especially on the Rhino and Elephants has caught the attention of many wild conservatives (Rust). The elephant and rhino are always killed for their ivory and horns respectively for money. On the other hand, trophy hunting continues to gain awareness as there are many instances of hunters posing next to their kill and this has also caught the attention of wildlife conservatives. According to Rust, poaching entails the illegal killing of wildlife, and this is mainly undertaken for revenge, for money, traditional reasons, and because of their meat, which is either sold or eaten locally.
In retrospective, trophy hunting entails the legal killing of wildlife and this is often carried out by the rich foreigners mainly for sport (Rust). Indeed trophy hunting is regulated, monitored, and controlled and the different game reserves, game parks, and animal sanctuaries apply for government permits and issue them to the hunters. If the tourist requires to take the animals out of the country, then they should apply for more licenses that allow them to do that (Rust). Such actions can lead to increase in the animal population as the game parks tend to put measures in place to ensure the continued thriving of the animals in the park mainly because they legally leap from the ripple down effects of trophy hunting (Rust). Moreover, some of these benefits trickle down to the surrounding community, for example in the creation of job opportunities. Further, trophy hunting can reduce the levels of poaching as the poachers, who are the locals in most cases, can have incentives not to poach the wildlife illegally because of the direct benefit of trophy hunting in their community.
Namibia for example has put in place such an approach where the local communities are involved in the conservation measures (Rust). Because of this, poaching has reduced in Namibia, and this has increased population of some species of wild animals. On the other hand, poaching is uncontrolled and non-monitored, and the poachers view the wild animals as a resource pool. Poachers’ actions lead to the over-exploitation leading to the massive reduction in the number of animals in the majority of the game parks in Africa (Rust). With the decrease in the number of animals, this makes the price of their commodity to rise, and such incentives drive the poachers to kill more animals as possible for their economic benefit. For example, in some African countries such as Zimbabwe and Namibia, poaching has caused the drastic reduction of the black rhino’s population by over 90% since the beginning of 1960 (Rust).
Relationship between Hunting and Wildlife Conservation
When the animal population becomes threatened by poachers, paradoxically, the encouragement of well-regulated sports hunting can benefit the animal population, and this can be the only sure way of guaranteeing their existence (Winkler 56). However, when this is not regulated, hunting can have damaging effects on the target population, therefore, leading to their extinction. For example in early 1980, the hunting of wildlife significantly contributed to the reduction in the population of the Dorcas gazelle and the near extermination of the Nubian Bustard (Loveridge et al. 224). However, in different places across the world, there are many cases of successful regulation of hunting and, which had an overall effect on the animal population. Of note, sports hunting and wildlife conservation remain part of human culture from the earliest human civilization.
According to Loveridge et al., sports hunting generates a substantial amount of revenue as the majority of the hunters spend extravagantly to shoot specific species of animals (226). The income obtained from hunting affects the economy of the designated country both at the national and the local levels for example in the creation of employment. The majority of the money obtained from sports hunting is always spent on the conservation and acquiring new habit for the animals. Although sports hunting in the developed nations is unequaled than in the developing countries, the introduction of sports hunting in the developing countries can have positive effects on the economy of that country (Winkler 58). The supporters of sports hunting also believe that conservationists can also engage with local communities especially in the developing countries where the wild animals can compromise the lives of the people living in the area.
According to Loveridge et al., for the people that live in areas with potential conflict between the animals and humans, their ability to tolerate the animals may be proportional to any financial benefits that they can receive from the wildlife (229). For example, in most African countries, Elephants raid their homes, crops, and the lions kill their domestic animals. The sports hunters can compensate such burdens with proper control and monitoring of the disturbing animals (Loveridge et al. 229). However, it is imperative to note that in most cases, sports hunting does not always target the problematic animals. In a country like Zimbabwe, for example, the majority of elephants raiding of crops happens mostly during the wet season, which occurs from November to April. On the other hand, game hunting takes place during the dry period, and this is always from May to October (Loveridge et al. 229). Because of this, the majority of the elephants shot during game hunting are never necessarily the same that raid farms. Besides, the removal of such animals from the animal population does not always alleviate the problem of crop raiding by the elephants in comparison to previous years.
Nevertheless, the revenue obtained from game hunting can contribute to the local infrastructure for example schools, roads, and clinics (Loveridge et al. 229). The improvement of such local infrastructures can lead to the enhancement of their value. In the majority of those countries encouraging game hunting, most trophy hunting companies ensure that the local communities benefit directly from their activities. Such moves make the local communities to collaborate with the game hunters to protect the hunted wildlife. Based on this, Loveridge et al., argue that the revenue that the local communities receive is not the only benefit as such activities can enhance local institutions (229). It also alters the perceptions held by the local communities regarding the wildlife in the surrounding areas.
Apart from the financial importance of game hunting, it also directly or indirectly influences on the ecology of the target population (Loveridge et al. 230). For example, in the case of population management in certain places of the population, the trophy hunters can choose to extirpate the animals’ natural predators. In the majority of the cases, population management is necessary when certain species of animals become introduced because of conservation reasons (Loveridge et al. 230). Such measures can also bolster public acceptance of the reintroduction of such species of animals in the new habitat. Another critical aspect of game hunting is habitat preservation, and this serves to conserve both the targeted species and other associates species in the region. According to Loveridge et al., game hunters are particularly instrumental in the protection of the natural habitats of the hunted animals (230). For example, in Africa, those areas set aside for sports hunting always have a significant influence on the amount of habitat available to the species thriving in that area.
Without the revenue that accrues from game hunting, such areas can turn to domestic livestock production because of factors such as political pressure (Loveridge et al. 231). Because of the setting up of domestic livestock production in those areas, this can irreversibly damage the ecosystem. The supporters of the game hunting claim that the hunters are in most cases the custodians of the wildlife habitat. Indeed, such hunters always offer their support to the anti-poaching teams, and this thereby prevents poaching when they operate in an area. However, the failure to put their actions in control can exacerbate the situation, and this can impede any efforts gained in the conservation process (Loveridge et al. 231). For example in South Africa, the government has put in place measures that allow for the well-organized and controlled culling of some animal species. The proponents of game hunting argue that the majority of the game animals finally die of old age and such animals can be shot and killed while at the same time charging fees which the government can use to fund the putting up effective anti-poaching mechanisms.
Adverse Effects of Hunting on Animal Population
Loveridge et al. 224, asserts that game hunting is a selective activity and thus always has a negative consequence on the population of the affected animals (231). For example, many hunters like to retain the trophies of their animals especially if they have exceptional features. The presence of such elements can lead to the generation of a particular type of interest among the hunters, and this can lead to genetic change within the animal population. For example, in certain species of animals, selective hunting has been shown to lead to the sudden population collapse because it puts pressure on the target males (Loveridge et al. 231). The presence of more males than females can reduce the number of females conceiving, and this can significantly affect the genetic makeup of the animals. For example, in Zimbabwe, the intensive game hunting of the sable antelope led to the reduced calving among the females and a more extended parturition period. Such factors led to an increased mortality rate among the calves sired by the sable antelope (Loveridge et al. 231). The disturbances caused by sports hunting can have a lasting effect on the animal population which can last for years.
Overall, sports hunting remains to be of benefit because it assists in the acquisition and the protection of the targeted animal habitat. Sports hunting also leads to the generation of revenue and the revenue can have a ripple effect in the conservation of biodiversity. In areas where the local communities can have an abrasive relationship with the wildlife, game hunting can reduce the animosity and instances of poaching when the community starts feeling the trickle-down effects of the economic benefits of game hunting. Evidently, sports hunting can lead to the increase in infrastructure and other social amenities and thus raise the standard of living among such people. Because of the above advantages, this makes sport hunting an attractive option in the conservation of the endangered species of animals in the population.
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