Importantly though, the team isn't advocating for the activity to cease.
“Properly regulated trophy hunting can be a powerful force for conservation which is why we're suggesting a different management approach as opposed to calling for a ban,” Knell added.
The authors suggest that an age restriction is put in place. That way, males have a chance to breed before they’re taken away to be hunted.
Trophy hunting, when legal, generally follows the same model. Animals that wealthy people like to hunt are bred and released in a protected area. More often than not, males are targeted to be killed.
The money that’s raised goes to conservation efforts in the area, part of which ensures a stable animal population, and part of which funds the lives of locals who, without it, may try their hand at illegal poaching.
That’s the idea, anyway – and notable scientific organizations, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), support it in principle. However, others have pointed out that corruption means that much of this money doesn’t get to where it needs to go, and animal populations are often not as stable as they’re made out to be.
An argument that has the backing of several studies is that eco-tourism may be a better alternative. Nothing has to die, revenue is still generated, and giant swaths of the natural environment will still be protected.
Many different countries rely quite heavily on the funds raised by trophy hunting, so a sudden ban in most cases isn’t advised – but perhaps a transition to eco-tourism is. At the same time, a crackdown on ivory smuggling would arguably be a better way to ensure animals like elephants don’t go the way of the dodo.