Annual Safari Club International Convention Sparks Outrage Among Animal Advocates

The Safari Club International’s annual convention brought over 850 exhibitors from more than 30 countries to Nashville, Tennessee, to promote the hunting and killing of thousands of animals, including endangered species such as elephants and lions, World Animal News reports.

The convention will also include auctions for trophy hunts and products, which are estimated to bring in almost $6 million for SCI to fund their lobbying efforts that include reducing U.S. Endangered Species Act protections and promoting trophy hunting.

Trophy hunting can target large and iconic species that are already endangered, further exacerbating their decline.
Photo: Adobe Stock / Paul Souders/Danita Delimont
Trophy hunting can target large and iconic species that are already endangered, further exacerbating their decline.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International have analyzed all of the auction items at the convention and found that approximately 350 trophy hunting trips are being auctioned to kill as many as 870 mammals in the U.S. and abroad, valued at nearly $6 million.

Among the animals being targeted are elephants, lions, rhinos, leopards, polar bears, hippos, wolves, grizzly bears, giraffes, and lynxes, Species Unite reports. Values for each hunting trip range from $2,500 to $143,000. Other international hunts include a 5-day New Zealand big game hunt valued at $120,000, a 7-day South Africa white rhino hunt valued at $100,000, and a 14-day Tanzania leopard, cape buffalo and plains game hunt valued at $85,000.

Trophy hunting can disrupt ecosystem functioning by removing top predators and altering predator-prey relationships.
Photo: Adobe Stock / EtienneOutram
Trophy hunting can disrupt ecosystem functioning by removing top predators and altering predator-prey relationships.

According to Humane Society International, in addition to trophy hunting trips, exhibitors will also be selling jewelry, trinkets, and decorations made from iconic animals.

The Impact of SCI’s Lobbying Activities

The annual convention is one of SCI’s primary funding sources for their extensive lobbying activities to take away critical state and federal protections from imperiled wildlife and make it easier for hunters to import hunting trophies and expand hunting seasons. According to the Endangered Species Coalition, as the world’s largest importer of hunting trophies of mammals regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the U.S. imported over 72,600 hunting trophies between 2014 and 2018—over 10,000 of which were from species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Photo: Adobe Stock / Viks_jin
The trophy hunting industry can create economic incentives for locals to kill endangered species for profit.

The Cruelty of Trophy Hunting

Trophy hunting, also known as sport hunting, is a controversial practice that involves killing wild animals for sport and obtaining their body parts as trophies. This practice has been a topic of debate for years, with many animal welfare organizations and individuals calling for its ban, Born Free USA reports. The reason behind this is the immense cruelty and suffering that trophy hunting causes to animals, which ultimately destroys their families and populations.

The hunting of endangered species is a particularly alarming aspect of trophy hunting. These species are already struggling to survive due to habitat loss, poaching, and other threats. Trophy hunting exacerbates these problems and puts them at an even greater risk of extinction. It is unconscionable that the lives of these animals from around the globe are being sold and auctioned off to wealthy, elite hunters for sport.

Hunting of a dominant male can lead to destabilization of the entire population, including increased fighting and death.
Photo: Adobe Stock / Karlos Lomsky
Hunting of a dominant male can lead to destabilization of the entire population, including increased fighting and death.

Not only does trophy hunting cause immense suffering to animals, but it also contributes to global declines in wildlife populations, National Geographic reports. This is because many of the animals targeted for trophy hunting are apex predators or keystone species, which play crucial roles in maintaining ecosystem balance. Removing them from the ecosystem can have far-reaching and devastating consequences.

Furthermore, the fact that trophy hunting is a multimillion-dollar industry perpetuates the notion that animals are commodities to be bought and sold. It sends the message that the world’s natural beauty and wildlife are only valuable if they can be exploited for profit.

The practice of trophy hunting perpetuates a culture that values the killing of wildlife for sport rather than conservation.
Photo: Adobe Stock / Marcin Rogozinski
The practice of trophy hunting perpetuates a culture that values the killing of wildlife for sport rather than conservation.

Take Action for Wildlife

Trophies of any species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act should be prohibited from importation into the United States. Congress has been urging the agency to look into its trophy import program for years, and this conference is another reminder that the federal government should take a hard look at blocking such trophies from coming into the United States.

We can no longer ignore the loss of these iconic species simply so trophy hunters can experience the thrill of killing them off.

Sign the petition and help us take action for endangered species.

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