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Trophy Hunting and its Effect on Populations



What is Trophy Hunting?


Trophy hunting is not a practice done for the benefit of humans in terms of providing sustenance, rather it involves killing wild animals that are carefully selected for sport or the “thrill of the hunt”. The hunter keeps parts of the animal, generally the head. Trophy hunting, which takes the form of canned hunts, targets animals both in the wild and in captivity. Hunters pursue a variety of animals, but the Big Five are the most famous and expensive: the lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros (both black and white), and Cape buffalo. They argue that hunting generates a variety of economic prospects in the areas where hunts take place.


Trophy hunting and evolution


For recreational purposes, hunters frequently target male animals with significant secondary sexual characteristics, such as antelope horns, deer antlers, and lions’ manes. Similarly, because of their big secondary sexual features, some insect collectors will pay high prices for specimens of creatures like stag beetles. These individuals are normally the most evolutionarily fit; therefore, if they are eliminated, the population’s best genes are lost. When an animal population is confronted with a changing environment, the researchers believe that harvesting rates as low as 5% of these high-quality males can lead to extinction. ​​Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences published the research.


“We found that ‘selective harvest’ has little effect when the environment is relatively constant, but environmental change is now a dangerous reality across the globe for considerable numbers of species.”, said lead author Dr. Rob Knell of QMUL’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. “However, environmental change is now a dangerous reality across the globe for considerable numbers of species,” he added.


Trophy hunting is a big business in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more territory set aside for hunting than for national parks, and it’s assumed to have minimal impact on well-managed harvested populations because off-take rates are low and only the males are typically targeted. The researchers were able to estimate the effects of targeting guys based on secondary sexual features and how the environment influences this. Only older males that have previously had a chance to spawn should be removed from harvested populations, according to rigorous reactive management.


According to Dr. Knell: “Our results clearly show that age restrictions on harvest which allow males to breed before they are taken are effective at reducing the impact of selective harvest on adapting populations.”



Article author: Idil Gure

Article editors: Sherilyn Wen, Victoria Huang