Tiger skull and bones © / Vivek Menon / WWF

trophy hunting game hunting, private ranching and conservation case studies

Tiger skull and bones © / Vivek Menon / WWF



a contentious topic for conservation

Few topics stir up as much emotion as the debate surrounding trophy hunting, making a practical conversation about trophy hunting often challenging. 

The realities behind sustainable wildlife management and providing alternative livelihoods are rather more complex than choosing a side based on personal morality. Wildlife conservation has benefitted from sustainable trophy hunting in the past, and until alternatives are practically viable, is likely to continue to do so in the future. It is essential therefore, to ensure that any trophy hunting operation is conducted legally, ethically, and sustainably, and that it does not impact on wild populations.

1.26 million

trophies were imported into the US between 2005–2014

trophy hunting and the White Rhino

The Southern White Rhino was once on the verge of extinction. Following a surge in hunting from colonialists in the early 19th century, the population stood at roughly 50 individuals, a figure which would have earned it the status of Critically Endangered today.

Population numbers of White Rhinos now stand at approximately 20,000 individuals across the African continent, initially thanks to trophy hunting. Private landowners and ranchers were given a financial incentive to manage private stocks of rhinos and reintroduce the animal to their lands.

At that time, the concept of wildlife conservation was in its very early stages, thus managed hunting allowed populations to restabalise from the brink. Similar stories have occurred with other species, such as the Cape Mountain Zebra in South Africa.

The impact of these successes is clear, as trophy hunting continues to fund conservation action in Africa and contribute to the protection of species from extinction, and the provision of income to local communities.

As with any form of hunting or trade, sustainability, ethics, traceability and legality are paramount, ensuring that any hunting or captive breeding operation falls firmly within national and international law. Regular and objective monitoring is essential to ensure that wild populations are not impacted, that the operation is adhering to environmental standards, and that the various benefits are felt throughout local communities.