Photographs from the hunting trip that Donald Trump’s two sons, Eric and Donald Jr., took to Africa last year have emerged and made big news online yesterday. The photographs were posted on the website of their tour company and drew outrage from conservationists and wildlife lovers around the world.
Among the trophies hunted by the Trump brothers, an elephant, buffalo, crocodile and large leopard. In one of the photographs, Donald Jr. displays a smug grin while holding the sawed-off tail of the dead elephant, knife in hand. The brothers have made a statement defending themselves against the public’s backlash, describing themselves as “avid outdoorsmen”:
“[We] were brought up hunting and fishing with our Grandfather who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted. We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations … We love travelling and being in the woods — at the end of the day, we are outdoorsmen at heart.”
In addition, the pair have defended their actions by reasoning that all meat was donated to local villagers who the brothers describe as being “incredibly grateful”.
The argument has been made that people hunt all the time and the public outcry in this case is simply a reaction to the fame of these particular hunters. However, if anything, the fame and notable wealth of the Trump brothers draws attention to the ethical questions surrounding hunting as a conservation practice. The hunting company who hosted the Trumps insists that they feed and “create jobs for local hungry people”. They also offer, by way of assuaging public concern, the explanation that guests “hunt our old & mature male animals, which are beyond their prime productive time” – although, you’d think if you were aiming to prove your prowess as a hunter, you’d have the courage to face a wild animal that had not passed its prime. Nevertheless, people pay around $750 a day to hunt the animals and when you’ve made your kill, a leopard, for instance, will set you back around $7000.
Let’s be honest: if the Trumps were really that invested in making a difference in the lives of starving, jobless people, their money could have been far better spent than on one really expensive meal. Or could it? The question is not just limited to is there such a thing as “sustainable hunting”? Considering that, by 2050, Africa’s population will have doubled, we must also ask: will hunting be a sustainable way to meet increased demands? Do the possible benefits of conservation outweigh the ethics of hunting? In the case of the hunting tourism industry, is it common (or possible) for natural resources to be managed in a way that promotes social development while still upholding conservation values?
What’s your opinion on “sustainable hunting”?
According to The Times “Zimbabwean conservationists say they are investigating the legality of a hunting spree in the country by the heirs to US magnate Donald Trump’s fortune after photos showed up online of the brothers posing with dead game animals.” (24 March, 2012)