Trophy Hunting named British Ecological Society book of the year
Trophy Hunting, by Dr Nikolaj Bichel and Professor Adam Hart, has been named The Marsh Ecology Book of the Year, presented by the British Ecological Society.
The Marsh Ecology Book of the Year is awarded to the book that has had the greatest influence on the science of ecology in any two-year period. The first book of its kind to tackle this highly controversial topic, Trophy Hunting (Springer) gives readers a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of this deeply polarising subject.
Researched and written by Dr Nikolaj Bichel, Oxford University, and Professor Adam Hart, University of Gloucestershire, the book explores the connections between humans and wildlife, the identity and motivations of trophy hunters, the viability of trophy hunting as a conservation tool, the role of social media in shaping discussion on the subject, and ultimately digs into why we believe the things we believe.
We hope that we’ve been able to shine a light on this subject from both sides and to criticize both sides rather fairly
The book underlines the need for evidence and objectivity to underline decisions and discussions on topics as divisive as trophy hunting, with a message to readers to think rather than to feel.
“I think it is easy to see trophy hunting activities and come to a snap judgement. I certainly did when I first heard about it” said Professor Adam Hart. “It is an emotive, difficult topic and it’s easy to let emotion and misinformation push forward well-meaning actions (like the import bans widely proposed) that will have negative, unintended consequences.
“We are in the midst of a biodiversity crisis and if we are serious about solving it then we need to park our preconceptions, and temper our emotions. Fixing complex problems involves accepting that the world may not be as we think it is, or wish it be, and taking grown-up, evidence-based actions.”
As a study in discussing the parameters of an applied conservation topic, there are few texts that can match it.
Dr Bichel added: “The more emotionally fraught and controversial a subject is, the easier it is for all of us to judge what is right and wrong based on our gut feelings – our intuitions – without necessarily knowing enough about it, or thinking we need to. We may have ethical principles that we think overrule any possible evidence and our biases may cause us to ignore evidence that we don’t like. We hope that we’ve been able to shine a light on this subject from both sides and to criticize both sides rather fairly, but that’s for the reader to judge.”
Dr Paul Ganderton, who reviewed the book for The Niche, said: “This is a genuinely unusual and fascinating text. You don’t have to be a wildlife/hunting researcher to appreciate the depth of the topic – in fact, as the book makes abundantly clear, very few people are hunting researchers hence the paucity of debate. As a study in discussing the parameters of an applied conservation topic, there are few texts that can match it. You don’t need to have a viewpoint on trophy hunting to appreciate that.”
Dr Nikolaj Bichel and Professor Adam Hart will be presented with their prizes during a ceremony held at the BES Annual Meeting which runs from 12 – 15 December in Belfast. The meeting will bring together over 1000 ecologists (in person and online) to discuss the latest advances in ecological research across the whole discipline.
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