Big Game Hunting Is Also Big Business for Wealthy Few
An American dentist’s recent killing of a lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe sparked public outrage, but it largely obscured the fact that big game hunting is also a big business in which animals are regularly pursued.
Several hunting outfits in the United States help organize safari hunts in countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe, where licensed hunting is legal. These safari hunts cater to a small but wealthy clientele of big-game hunters, who bring back more than 400 lion trophies — heads and furs — into the United States each year, according to the Humane Society, a conservation group. More than 750 elephants meet a similar fate.
Big-game hunters operate in a separate world from weekend deer hunters in the United States. Plane tickets, specialized gear and weapons, safari guides and astronomical hunting fees determined by what kind of animal you want to kill – a lion costs more than $50,000, experts say – keep the pastime out of reach for most hunters.
“Typically they are fairly wealthy individuals,” said Steve West, a well-known hunting advocate who appears on a reality show on the Outdoor Channel and runs a tourism company that plans hunts. “You’re going to get a far more elite kind of person who books the average trip than in the U.S.”
Commercial trophy hunting is allowed in more than a dozen African countries, with most hunts taking place in South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Americans make up around 60 percent of big-game hunters active on the continent, activists say.
Mr. West’s company is one of many that help American hunters plan trips overseas — offering everything from advice on weapons to guidance on what to expect once you’re out in the wild.
Mr. West has been on “hundreds” of hunts, he said, including more than two dozen trips that have taken him overseas, where he has trekked with the Kalahari bushmen in Namibia and hiked in Argentina. (Mr. West’s TV program shows him as he kills an animal and then poses by the corpse.)
Big game hunters, he said, whether they kill anything or not, are first and foremost world travelers with a sense of adventure.
“Some of the trips that I remember more than any others are the ones where we didn’t get anything, but had big adventures,” he said. Argentina is a particular favorite. “I just fell in love with their culture,” he added.
Mr. West sets up as many as 50 overseas hunts a year for well-heeled travelers, many of them in Africa. He said that his clients are financially savvy and have a deep commitment to nature and wildlife.
“These are salt-of-the-earth people,” he said. “They may be wealthy, but people who hunt consider themselves conservationists.”
Sabrina Corgatelli, an American hunter who was attacked on social media last week after she posted pictures of herself posing with a giraffe, a wildebeest and other animals she shot and killed on a legal hunt in South Africa, echoed that sentiment in an interview on the “Today” show.
“Everybody just thinks we’re coldhearted killers, and it’s not that,” she said. “There is a connection with the animal, and just because we hunt them doesn’t mean we don’t have a respect for them.”
At the end of the day, Mr. West argues, hunters are realists who understand that an exotic or endangered animal is more likely to be protected from extinction if they are assigned a financial value.
African trophy hunting may be an expensive hobby that only a few can afford, but it is true that it is also a big business. In an op-ed piece written in 2011 that appeared in The Daily Caller, a conservative website, Larry Rudolph, then president of Safari Club International, and Joseph Hosmer, president of the Safari Club International Foundation, argued that hunting was “good for Africa’s lions.” And, they said, humans benefited, too.
非洲战利品狩猎可能是一项只有少数人才能负担的昂贵爱好，但它确实也是一项很大的产业。2011年，在自然资源保护网站“每日呼唤者”(The Daily Caller)上发表的一篇专栏文章里，国际游猎俱乐部(Safari Club International)当时的主席拉里·鲁道夫(Larry Rudolph)与国际游猎俱乐部基金会(Safari Club International Foundation)的主席约瑟夫·霍斯默(Joseph Hosmer)说，狩猎“对非洲的狮子有益”。他们说，也对人类有利。
“Revenues from hunting generate $200 million annually in remote rural areas of Africa,” they wrote. Much of that money goes to pay for park rangers and other forms of wildlife management that is a boon to the animals, they argued. “This revenue gives wildlife value, and humans protect the revenue by protecting the wildlife.”
On Friday, the governments of South Africa and Namibia endorsed that view. Both countries condemned the recent decision by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and other carriers to ban hunting trophies. They said this would hurt the hunting business and deprive their countries of money for wildlife management and community development.
星期五，南非与纳米比亚政府对这一观点表示赞同。两国都谴责达美航空公司(Delta Air Lines)、美国联合航空公司(United Airlines)等公司禁运狩猎战利品的规定。两国政府说，这会破坏狩猎产业，剥夺了两国用于野生动物管理及社区发展的经费。
That is an argument that opponents of hunting, like the Humane Society, reject.
Instead, anti-hunting activists argue for the benefits of other forms of tourism. The local economy in rural Namibia, for example, may be better served by busloads of tourists toting cameras instead of rifles.
“Tourism based on living animals brings in far more money than hunting does,” said Teresa Telecky, a wildlife expert at the Humane Society and a critic of trophy hunting. “There are far more people coming to Africa for tourism than for trophy hunting, and that provides people with real livelihoods — working in restaurants, hotels, the tourism industry — and that is far more important than this theory that hunting revenue will trickle down to normal people.”