To be clear, I don’t hunt. I see no nobility in hunting. I think, in many instances, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make a case in support of hunting as a viable option for wildlife conservation. But, I try my best to find the value in having conversations and in listening to one another. As much as hunting is controversial, it’s also personal. And it certainly can’t be addressed with a “one size fits all” attitude.

Because here’s the thing… this is a mess mankind has created. Many scientists agree that we’re on the verge of the world’s sixth mass extinction. How do we go about saving so many endangered species?

Human – Wildlife Conflict:

We’ve (in the United States specifically) all but completely extirpated our own apex predators. We don’t understand what it’s like to live with predators that rival our safety or our ability to make a living. This film explores the complex nuances of trophy hunts and human vs. wildlife conflict in places like South Africa. Many of the species highlighted in the film are celebrated in the West, but in order to move forward we must try to understand that we come from a place of privilege to suggest the way in which an impoverished community should deal with predators that pose great risk to the livelihood and safety of their families.

Trophy Hunts and Conservation:

It’s abundantly clear that commercial hunting (whether it be canned hunting or not) is, at best, a profitable business venture often promoted under the guise of wildlife conservation. But — what if, for specific species, it means that population will breed naturally and thrive? Can we justify the loss of some individuals if it means the population as a whole might flourish? What if the meat from an animal, when properly managed, could feed a local village? These are all questions the film brings to light and leaves you with…

Many argue that government corruption fuels the trade itself, results in an unfair redistribution of wealth, and that very little of the money received from trophy hunts ever finds its way to local communities or to well meaning organizations working to protect native species long term. The film didn’t explore this argument specifically, and I can’t help but question whether or not that was intentional, but it’s certainly a valid one and one I would encourage others to research on their own. It’s also worth noting that there are a growing number of alternative species specific conservation efforts – improvements in security protocol for black market trading, relocation, dehorning, painting, increased security via rangers/anti-poaching units, dogs, drones – but all of these cost money. A lot of it.

Nobody – certainly not me – wants to see an animal be hunted and killed. Our gravest mistake however, one in which the only losers will be the animals, will be in our inability to set aside our differences – however extreme – and work together to find a viable solution for each and every species that has been impacted due to our negligence.

We’ve already done enough damage.

Photo via The New York Times

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