Trophy hunting, as the name implies, is the sophisticated, highly selective pursuit of animals in the atmosphere of a wild game. The animals which are usually pursued in trophy hunting are those which are the most agile, wild and fast ones, like deer, fox and even elephant.
It is a famous game among the male hunters because it has the tag of a prize with it. The animals caught are not common; one has to have extraordinary skill to catch them. Therefore, the successful capture of such animals represents a special victory. In fact, some parts of the animals caught in trophy hunting are preserved to remind the hunters of their bountiful victory (like a souvenir). Such parts include antlers, teeth, skulls or some parts of the skin. This display of “souvenirs" also counts as a display of valor. So for a lot of men in places where hunting is rampant , trophy hunting is a tempting endeavor.
As you can see, the “trophy" comes in two ways. First, there's the success in the simple act of catching a live animal. Second, there's the more transcendental success of coming up with all the testosterone one has, indulge in a deadly chase and go home with souvenirs on your back and a story you'd never be tired of telling again.
A lot of people frown upon the idea of trophy hunting because it is oftentimes mistaken for poaching. Let's get this straight. Trophy hunting is different from poaching. The latter is illegal hunting. It includes hunting outside certain legal hunting time, a legal hunting territory, or hunting animals which are declared endangered.
Moreover, between the 1970's and 1980's, the idea of hunting for ego-stroking received valiant opposition. There were animal welfare organizations which sprouted from nowhere and agreed that trophy hunting should be highly discouraged. This is because there are no reliable forms of checks and balances in the possible hunt for the endangered species. 189 countries signed the 1992 Rio Accord, which contained action plans for biodiversity and trophy hunting was indeed causing some species to go extinct.
Also, trophy hunting was regarded as a “cruel sport" because it does not, in any way, drive towards the conservation of animals or biodiversity.
The Big Five Game
The big game (big time!) hunters in Africa coined the phrase Big Five Game to refer to the five animals in Africa which are most difficult to hunt. These five animals are the lion, African elephant, African buffalo, Black Rhinoceros and the leopard. These animals are not considered endangered today. However, the problem with other hunters which are not that good in spotting the correct animals is that they might kill the wrong ones. For example, the African bush elephant is considered as vulnerable. Today, it is restricted to trophy hunters. The African forest elephant, on the other hand, is still not being evaluated. The white rhinoceros is also endangered.
Trophy hunting doesn't bring food to the table in the same way “normal" hunting does. It simply isn't the objective. It only gives hunters a chance to brag about the exploits they had and how they resolved them. However, it is also becomes a means to recognize prize animals and as a means to recognize endangered animals. The problem is that existing checks and balances are not sufficient to keep track of such a hobby or a profession as the case may be.
Richard Simm is the CEO of Active Merchandise, a company specializing in quality surveillance, hunting and recreational equipment. Go to http://www.activemerchandise.com.au