Africa Borrell Expedition005

What Is The Price Of Conservation?


Either there’s a flurry of conservation themed films coming out, or environmental stories are gaining mainstream traction. The film I’m writing about today though – which I havn’t yet seen – really takes the biscuit.

It hones in on the most controversial, rage-inducing kryptonite of animal-loving environmentalists, and intertwines it with dastardly poaching and overly-idealistic conservation. I’m talking, of course, about trophy hunting.

At the opposite end of the spectrum to Blue Planet II, which indulges us all in precisely the guilt-free natural world we love, films like ‘Trophy‘ set out to challenge our views, disagree with us, and make us uncomfortable. I love it.

To be clear, I think trophy hunting is a bit daft (just like grouse shooting), and it certainly doesn’t appeal to me. But at the same time that doesn’t give me the moral right to say it’s ‘wrong’. If that’s what you want to spend your money on, then whoopee for you.

Where we are likely to be at odds is if the species are threatened, the practice is unsustainable or the community who live with the animals see no benefit. Yet this kind of open minded tolerance, if you can call it that, seems to be a pretty rare thing in environmental circuits. If you don’t out right condem trophy hunters then you are practically condoning it (you only have to read this to see how).

Hunting almost certainly has a role to play in the conservation mix, yet it’s a huge multifaceted problem to be debated. A hunter will pay a lot more to shoot a lion than a photographer will, but over an animals lifetime of being photographed, how does it balance out? Hunting permits and quotas work well in theory, but are often broken or exceeded. Daft people posing with animals doesn’t help either…

In any case this brief article isn’t likely to change any views, if you already have them made up. But, nonetheless, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to watch this film, with an open mind. You might just change it.


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  1. Matthew Knibb
    Matthew Knibb11-25-2017

    I watched Trophy a few days ago and was very impressed by it. So many films about trophy hunting take a pro/anti stance and produce a somewhat biased film, but trophy took a very even handed approach. Not only did it cover trophy hunting, but also rhino breeding and horn trade, human/wildlife conflict and how it impacts on local Africans, antipoaching operations, and much more besides. Most importantly it is that it puts you on the ground with the wildlife and people who are affected most by whether we allow activities such as hunting. Its important that people open themselves to seeing these issues not just through the eyes of either the animal rights or hunting organisations, and instead form their own views based on evidence and their own analysis. Its great to see James that you are prepared to get people talking about trophy hunting and what the costs and benefits are of doing it, when many other people won’t. You should definitely watch it, best of all by buying the DVD like I did, so it can be lend around and get even more people who are both pro or anti hunting or trade of animals to have their own views challenged.

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