How Trophy Hunting Affects the Environment

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How Trophy Hunting Affects the Environment

Trophy hunting and other activities involving the targeting of high-quality male animals can result in species extinction / Photo by Getty Images

 

Our planet has been going through a lot these past years. One of the greatest challenges is the mass extinction of plants and animals all over the world due to a number of factors. The Fact Sheet presented by Earth Day reported that we are now amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. What's worse is that we are losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times annually. The normal rate should be an extinction between one and five species every year. 

A recent study showed that there has been an increase in the loss of insect populations by more than 75% in Germany over the last 28 years. This news is very alarming since 60% of bird species rely on insects for food and 80% of wild plants rely on bees and other insects for pollination. The loss of half of the world's wild animal population is mainly because of climate change, habitat destruction, and exploitation.

Additionally, a study published in the journal Science discovered that the current extinction rates are up to 1,000 times higher than they would be if humans weren't in the picture. The first major review of extinction data titled "20,000 Species Are Near Extinction: Is Its Time to Rethink How We Decide Which to Save?" was conducted by Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, and his colleagues. 

One of the reasons behind the growing extinction is trophy hunting. People have been used to killing big animals, such as antelopes, deer, elephants, and lions just to get their horns, antlers, and tusks. This puts the species at greater risk of extinction when coupled with climate change.

 

How Trophy Hunting May Cause Extinction

There's a growing list of the world's animal species that are bound to go extinct if they continue to be killed because of trophy hunting. An article by the Discover Wildlife said that trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animals for pleasure. Most of the time, hunters would kill elephants, lions, rhinos, pumas, and bear. They keep some of the animal's body parts as a souvenir. Unfortunately, this activity is not restricted to just a few countries. 

Some countries allow a small number of endangered species to be killed in the wild by sports hunters with the approval from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Because of this, about three to four rhinos and 100 elephants are killed every day. A report from the Telegraph showed that a total of 86 rare animal body parts have been imported into Britain during the financial year 2017 to 2018. Some of these are polar bear skins, elephant feet, and a rug made from a slaughtered lion. 

The report also showed that the thriving trophy hunter industry exists because hunters are eager to celebrate their kills with garish mementos. Additionally, a study conducted by the researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) found out that trophy hunting and other activities involving the targeting of high-quality male animals can result in species extinction, especially in this changing environment. 

According to the study, male animals with large secondary sexual traits tend to be the most evolutionarily fit. If they are killed, the best genes are taken out of the population. In an interview by Phys.org, lead author Dr. Rob Knell from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences stated that trophy hunting can further damage populations to extinction especially with the alarming environment changes. 

"Because these high-quality males with large secondary sexual traits tend to father a high proportion of the offspring, their 'good genes' can spread rapidly, so populations of strongly sexually selected animals can adapt quickly to new environments. Removing these males reverses this effect and could have serious and unintended consequences," he said. 

 

How the Current Mass Extinction Affects our Environment

Every species in our planet play a major role in keeping our ecosystem balanced. The extinction of certain species, whether they be predators or prey, can significantly leave an impact in our environment. The impact of this extinction depends on how large the role of animals is.

There's a growing list of the world's animal species that are bound to go extinct if they continue to be killed because of trophy hunting / Photo by Getty Images

 

For instance, predators are mostly the first to be threatened. Their loss can result in a trophic cascade, an ecological phenomenon caused by a predator's extinction that can also impact populations of prey. This can dramatically affect our ecosystem and food web. 

One scenario, for instance, is when there are too many deer, they can really change the ecosystem because they can destroy forests. The loss of animals that are mostly intended for survival would also interrupt the food web. This can heavily affect how people get their food or their living in general.

The risk of extinction also increases dramatically when environmental conditions change, warmer temperatures, for example, or a shift in seasonal rainfall.

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