Trophy hunting
Scientists believe trophy hunting is needed to help conservationLynae Zebest/Flickr

Trophy hunting should not be banned, as species conservation will suffer more from doing so, say researchers. A study from the University of Cambridge has said that trophy hunting should not be completely cut out, but regulated instead to generate conservation funding.

The study shows that trophy hunting in sub-Saharan Africa brings in more money than eco-tourism, and can be less disruptive. Twelve guidelines were drawn up to establish a balance between sustainability of wildlife and revenue for conservation.

"Understandably, many people oppose trophy hunting and believe it is contributing to the ongoing loss of species," said Corey Bradshaw, senior author of the research. "However, we contend that banning the $217m per year industry in Africa could end up being worse for species conservation."

The scientists argue in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution that conserving biodiversity is expensive, and conservation funding is limited – particularly in developing countries. They suggest that controlled hunting could prove to be the answer to generating these funds.

The study's guidelines for trophy hunting include banning post-hunt sales to avoid illegal hunting, and giving priority of sales funds to local communities. They also consider the conservation of species by suggesting that mandatory population analysis be carried out, so that the total population does not decline.

"There are many concerns about trophy hunting beyond the ethical that currently limit its effectiveness as a conservation tool," said researcher Nigel Leader-Williams. "One of the biggest problems is that the revenue it generates often goes to the private sector, and rarely benefits protected management and the local communities." He added: "However, if this money was better managed, it would provide much needed funds for conservation."

Previous reports have showed that hunting can generate up to $100m (£69m) every year, which South Africa managed in 2006. In July 2015, The Guardian reported that South African company Hunting Legends offered excursions at $35,000 to kill a male lion, $13,000 for a buffalo, and $60,000 for a large elephant.