Conservation scholars' perspectives on the morality of trophy hunting for the sake of conservation.

Published online
17 Mar 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Ghasemi, B. & Kyle, G. & Sell, J. & Varner, G.
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Trophy hunting is one of the most contentious issues in recent biodiversity conservation discourse, eliciting opposition and support for the practice. Ethical concerns are often at the heart of the debate. To investigate moral views about trophy hunting, we conducted an online survey of randomly selected scholars worldwide who had published on biodiversity conservation (n = 2315). Scholars expressed divergent views on the moral acceptability of trophy hunting as a conservation practice. Moral convictions were significantly related to the perspectives of scholars. The most important factor in predicting the moral views of the respondents was the consequences of trophy hunting for local human communities. The results also indicated that utilitarian (versus deontological) decision-making in conservation, ecological consequences of trophy hunting and animal welfare issues contribute to the divergent views. The findings emphasize the need for interdisciplinary work on ethical issues concerning animal rights and welfare in conservation, as well as providing robust and comprehensive evidence on the consequences of trophy hunting for local communities. We caution that polarization among conservation scholars may negatively affect conservation efforts. Based on the literature and our findings, we provide some recommendations to narrow the gap and consider different management options.

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