The Ethical Case for Hunting Elephants

Wayne LaPierre did nothing wrong

In light of The New Yorker’s recent story entitled “The Secret Footage of the N.R.A. Chief’s Botched Elephant Hunt”, I felt it was a good time to re-up an article that I originally published on JacobWohl.org back in November of 2019.

The Ethical Case for Hunting Elephants (Published 2019)

African big game hunting is necessary for the conservation of the continent’s bio-stability and economic prosperity. While I’ve never personally engaged in the practice, I endorse it as ecologically necessary, economically meritorious and deeply ethical. 

About 400 elephants are hunted annually on the entire continent of Africa. To put that number in perspective, an estimated 12,450 African elephants die each year of old age. If the death of elephants is what ails your heart, then your real problem is with God, not big game hunters. There are well over 400,000 elephants in Africa and legal big game hunting can’t even come close to putting a dent in that number. 

Humans have always been part of the food chain on the African continent, but even absent the consideration of who’s eating what, the economic consequences proves to be a massive boon for struggling African economies.  

As Alastair Gunn writes in Environmental Ethics and Trophy Hunting:
Wild resources are vital to the survival of millions of Africans. One study estimated that wild resources contributed over $120 million to the Tanzanian economy in 1988 (Kiss 1990); hunting licenses alone yielded $4.5 million in 1990. Sports hunters who wish to hunt lion in Tanzania are required to stay for 21 days and on average spend $35,000. Before Kenya imposed a ban on hunting, the total revenue from sport hunting contributed about 6.5% to the total foreign exchange from tourism (Makombe 1993, 28). At Phinda Izilwane Park in Kwa-Zulu, South Africa, hunters pay $30,000 to shoot a white rhino. Permits are issued only for old males that are past breeding age; most are in poor condition with a very limited life expectancy (McGregor 1996).

When legal African big game hunting is encouraged, people who were once poachers become guides and game wardens. Otherwise poor villages become prosperous towns and starving people become well-fed. Animal populations are kept at healthy levels and Africa’s limited agriculture is allowed to prosper. On the other hand, when legal African game hunting is stifled, as happened after the international histrionics over the death of Cecil the Lion, African guides become poachers, at-risk populations go hungry and the natural ecosystem of predator and prey falls out of balance. 

Contemporary ecofeminist Yashar Ali has gleefully celebrated on Twitter when a pack of elephants charged at a troop of big game hunters. What Yashar probably doesn’t know that hippos kill nearly 3,000 people every year, and that overwhelmingly, these are people of color. Elephants kill at least 100 people of color each year. That’s more than 3 times more people than are killed by police violence in the United States ever year. If Yashar really cared about people of color, he would call for more, not less, big game hunting, if only to limit the senseless slaughter of people of color by hippos in Africa. 

About The Author: Jacob Wohl is a registered lobbyist and the host of Man Up with Jacob Wohl on Censored.TV.