Problems with Trophy Hunting

I tend to have little to no objections to hunting in general.  It strikes me as a great way for some people to provide food for themselves and makes them less dependent on the formal economy, which is definitely a positive thing.  I also recognize that hunting by humans, can play an important role in keeping the populations of many animals in check.  This is often necessary in places where humans have already eliminated the natural predators of the species in question.  I acknowledge that it does provide people a chance to enjoy wilderness areas, and plays a role in promoting conservation, all of which are good things.

That said, I have long been bothered by the phenomenon of trophy hunting.  That is the practice of killing large or impressive animals for the sake of having some part of their bodies to display in one’s home.  This strikes me as self-indulgent, and an exercise in ego-building.  Killing another sentient creature, for purposes other than feeding oneself, strikes me as ethically problematic, especially if you are doing it only to impress your friends, or assert your own dominance or live out some sort of Hemingway fantasy.  It strikes as an activity for people who have a lot to prove.  Unsurprisingly, I identify much more with the type of people who take their children hunting and say: “If you kill it, you have to clean it and eat it”.

I tend to find myself far more impressed, with people who photograph or film large, dangerous animals that people who shoot them.  It requires comparable levels of skill, and yet it leaves these impressive creatures alive for us all to enjoy.  Furthermore, it leaves the most impressive of these animals in the gene pool, so that they continue to propagate.  I do recognize that, trophy hunting does provide money for conservation efforts and provides tourist money to may places that are in bad need of the revenue.  But I believe this could be accomplished through other forms of eco-tourism.

In a related note, I have similar objections to people who spend huge amounts of money on furs as well.  This strikes me as needless killing other sentient creatures, for nothing more than a pointless status symbol (I tend to object to status symbols in general, but that may be a topic for another day).

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