CONSERVATIONISTS have written an open letter arguing that imposing trophy hunting bans without viable alternatives will imperil biodiversity.

Led by Dr. Amy Dickman of Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, researchers say there is strong scientific evidence that a ban on trophy hunting would be bad for conservation and local communities.

Published in the Science journal, the letter urges governments and policy makers to take account of this evidence in the face of high-profile emotive campaigns calling for a ban.

The letter sets out that in African trophy hunting countries, more land has been conserved under trophy hunting than under National Parks and ending trophy hunting risks land conversion and biodiversity loss.

The scientists argue that poorly managed trophy hunting can can cause local population declines, but unless better-use alternatives exists, hunting reforms should be prioritized over bans.

They say positive population impacts of well-regulated hunting have been demonstrated for many species, including rhinos, markhor, argali, bighorn sheep, and many African ungulates.

According to the letter, trophy hunting can also provide income for marginalised and impoverished rural communities.

In a briefing paper issued in 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN] said :

 ''Legal, well regulated trophy hunting programmes can. and do, play an important role in delivering benefits for both wildlife conservation and for for the livelihoods and well-being of indigenous and local communities living with wildlife.''

Dr. Dickman told the PA news agency : ''The audience we want to take a note  of this is really policymakers.'' [Agencies]


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