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Animal Rights Vs Trophy Hunting

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written by - Kashvi Jindal


In today's world where human beings are constantly exploiting nature through various ways like deforestation, mining, poaching, etc. for the sole purpose of profits and money, there is another method of exploitation which is not for the same but solely for entertainment or as a sport, which is known as Trophy Hunting. In trophy hunting, hunters are required to pay a sum of money to kill wild and big animals such as Lions, Tigers, Rhinos, Giraffes, etc. The revenue collected is used by local communities for the conservation of animals.

More than one lakh twenty-five thousand wild animals are killed in the name of entertainment or a sport and of collecting revenues for the conservation of animals that means these number of animals are exploited mercilessly, but is revenue collected reached to local communities? Or do they truly invest money on animal conservation and save their rights if it is reached? There is no relevant data to this. People do not know if the money reaches the appropriate place, or it is being utilised properly or not. This is a major national concern that needs to be addressed. International Approach

The main countries that are the primary witnesses of trophy hunting are Canada, South Africa, Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand. South Africa has the world’s largest hunting industry and it’s the second most popular source for imports from the United States. In several African countries, trophy hunting is still practiced. The main animals that are hunted in trophy hunting are well known as ‘Big Five’: Lion, Elephant, Leopard, Rhinoceros (both black and white), and Cape Buffalo. According to the study conducted by the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), hunting tourism generated approximately 190 million USD in seven Southern African Development Communities (SADC) in 2008.Trophy Hunters in America spend a lot of money to kill animals overseas and on average, they import over 126,000 trophies per year. Domestic wildlife such as bears, bobcats, mountain lions, etc. is also the victim of trophy hunting, causing ecological harm. 1200 species of Animals including Africa’s ‘Big five’ are hunted and killed as trophies. Currently, 42 states sanction inhuman and unsporting wildlife killing competitions. Trophy Hunting of Black Bears is legal in 32 states of the United States.[1]

In countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia, Kenya, etc. there is a ban on trophy hunting as they have already realized the detrimental effect of trophy hunting on the wildlife population.

Case Study of Big Five

  • Elephant trophies have also recently been banned. In 2014, the United States halted elephant trophy imports from Tanzania and Zimbabwe due to concerns over sustainability. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which regulates trophy imports, found no indication that money raised from trophy hunting was utilised to assist elephant conservation initiatives.

  • More than 1,500 captive lions were sent to the United States as trophies between 2005 and 2014, out of a total of 5,587 lion trophies. Trophy hunters in the United States have recently given lions new protections. Anyone wishing to import a lion trophy must first receive a permit under the Endangered Species Act. Obtaining a permit necessitates proving that hunting enhances the species' survivability.

  • African buffalo is the most traditional and widely imported of the Big Five. According to the IUCN, there are approximately 900,000, with about three-quarters of them in protected areas. African buffalo have been extinct in Gambia and Eritrea, but they have been successfully reintroduced in Swaziland and South Africa, from which Americans have imported over 4,200 trophies in the decade since 2005.

Judicial Approach of India

In India, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was passed to protect the rights of animals. The fundamental statute that supervises, regulates, and prevents animal cruelty is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.This act aims to put an end to unnecessary animal cruelty and to amend the legislation on animal cruelty by imposing some penalties and establishing an animal welfare board to promote measures for animal welfare. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, protects flora and fauna. This act prohibits any type of hunting in India unless permission is granted by the authorised officer. The Indian Penal Code, 1860, imposes severe penalties for maiming or killing an animal, with Sections 428 and 429 requiring the animal's "valuation."

Article 51 (g)of the Indian Constitution states that “it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures”[2]. However, as part of fundamental obligations, this item is not justiciable, but it does allow courts to adopt environmentally beneficial laws.

Recently, while referring to a Kerala casein which a pregnant elephant allegedly consumed fruit filled with firecrackers, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajya Sabha Member, raised a question about the need for amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 with more stringent penalties.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA India), an organisation working for the welfare of animals, whose motto is “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”, recommended that electric vehicles should replace elephant rides at Amer Fort in Jaipur as out of 98 convicted elephants, 22 suffered from an irreversible eye problem and 42 had foot problems including overgrown nails and flat footpads from walking on concrete roads. Elephant rides inflict pain on them and infringed their rights according to various acts.[3]Many elephants displayed stereotypical behaviour patterns indicating severe mental anguish, such as repetitive swaying and head-bobbing, and all those examined were seen carrying loads heavier than 200 kilograms, which is the legal maximum for elephants on hilly terrain such as that at Amer Fort.[4]

In the case of Karnail Singh and others vs. State of Haryana, The High Court of Punjab and Haryana recognised animals as legal entities. Humans were declared as loco parentis which means they can protect animals like a guardian.[5] The decision of the case relied upon the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja and Ors[6] in which it was held that jallikattu and bullock cart race violates section 3, Section 11(1)(a) and section 11(1)(m) of the Prevention of Cruelty Act,1960 Through this case, Supreme Court incorporated animals under the ambit of Article - 21 (Right to Life and Liberty). Conclusion

By glancing at the things that are happening worldwide and the laws in India, one question that arises is that – “Is Trophy Hunting really necessary?” I do not think so. In the ecosystem, animals perform a vital function.Humans themselves come under the category of animals but our ability to speak and our intelligence distinguishes us from them, allowing us to be classified as a more sophisticated species.Humans consider animals as materialistic objects. What are we doing with our gifts, the natural resources, things that are for us? Destroying them and killing animals just for the sake of fulfilling things that can be fulfilled in other ways? Is it possible that they are being denied their right to life? Their rights, like human rights, should be protected. They should be regarded as human beings. The killing of animals for the sake of entertainment or enjoyment as a sport, as well as humans using it as a GDP indicator, is unjustified. Trophy hunting ignores animal welfare. It ignores the fact that animals have lives of their own.There is a need to change things and put a blanket ban on these kinds of practices in every country as it is causing harm not only to animals but also to humans indirectly.

There are other options if people only consider this commercially viable source because it gives funding for conservation.Instead of paying money to kill and use their carcass or body parts for showing off, decorating their homes, or for fun, people can donate money to wildlife protection and the welfare of wild creatures.Donated money can be used for the creation of natural heaven like conservation parks, forest reserves for the wild animals where animals can live peacefully so that their food chain is not disturbed or harmed by any human intervention. They should not be considered material objects. They should be given some respect and moral values. The greed and need for the victory of humans have created a world full of disasters and have made humans stone-hearted. Thus, the above pose solutions should be taken into consideration effectively and vehemently. With no other words left I would like to say animals should be treated like humans and their rights should not be infringed.

[1] Banning Trophy Hunting; available at: (last visited on 21st July 2021) [2] Part IV A, Fundamental Duties; available at: visited on 21stJuly 2021) [3] Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (Act No. 59 of 1960) and Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Act No.53 of 1972) [4]Central government committee recommends replacing elephant rides with electric vehicles at Amer Fort; available at: visited on 22ndJuly 2021) [5] Non-Human Rights Blog; available at: (last visited on 22ndJuly 2021) [6] 595 (2014) 7 SCC

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