Trophy Hunting Could Push Species Into Extinction

Lions On The Lose In Nairobi

A new study suggests that hunters who pick targets that stand out from the crowd because of their lustrous manes or impressive horns could well result in species extinction. The research claims that if hunters remove just 5 per cent of high-quality males, then there is a risk that the entire population could be wiped out given that many species already face intense pressure from a fast-changing world.

Removal of the best genes from the pool

Researchers say that animals deemed to be the most valuable by trophy hunters because of their tusks, antlers, manes or horns typically have the best genes and removing them from the gene pool could result in the species being pushed over the edge. The global debate over trophy hunting is intense. Conservationists argue that it should be banned or at the very least restricted. Other conservationists say the revenue trophy hunting generates can generate valuable revenue that could be used for conservation.

High-quality males father the most offspring

Dr Rob Knell of the University of London who is responsible for the research says the assumption that selective harvesting does not pose a threat to a population of animals fails to consider the most recent research. Dr Knell adds that high-quality males tend to father a high proportion of offspring ensuring their good genes remain within the pool and rapidly spread. This means that populations that consist of strong sexually selected animals have the ability to quickly adapt to new environments. The removal of such males will reverse this effect and this will obviously have consequences that are serious even if they are unintended.

Humans hunt the most attractive animals

Human hunting significantly contrasts with natural predation because trophy hunters actively target large animals which are usually males. Illegal poachers do the same thing killing elephants with the biggest tusks so their ivory can be harvested for illicit trade. Its no secret that human hunting has caused the extinction of many species and whilst the practice is legal in many countries, big game hunting takes place over a larger area in sub-Saharan Africa than is conserved in national parks.

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