DEBATING THE ROLE OF TROPHY HUNTING IN AFRICA AT THE 2018 LAB
The role of trophy hunting in Africa has increasingly become one of the principle conservation debates over the last few decades. Despite being morally polarising and emotionally fraught, the topic will likely take on even greater urgency in the coming years as a number of the continent’s iconic wild species slide towards extinction, many of them sought after by hunters for their rare trophies.
Rising poaching levels – exacerbated by poverty and development challenges that continue to hinder progress in many rural areas, as well as widespread corruption and mismanagement – are also forcing conservationists to search for more effective strategies of managing protected areas.
To date, protagonists on both sides of the trophy hunting debate have never come together in any meaningful way. In a bid to break the impasse, participants at the 2018 Conservation Lab will facilitate a session where the key arguments for and against will be explained and discussed, in the interests of moving the conversation forward.
Colin Bell and Ian Michler will represent the photographic safari industry, while Paul Stones and Stuart Dorrington will speak for the hunting fraternity. The panellists will present their cases, then pool their ideas, research and experience to search for common, actionable ground, as well as highlighting areas for future research and discussion.
The aim of the session is to produce a working document acceptable to both parties – featuring outcomes on issues such as parameters for understanding biodiversity conservation; types of land-use and best-suited activities; and best hunting and photographic practice – that can support and assist conservation efforts within governments, NGOs, communities and the private sector.
Often, it’s unexpected alliances that have the most positive impact. By opening the conversation in a productive, collaborative environment, maybe – just maybe – we can fight our way back.