Upon looking at a study conducted in 2014-2015 that I read from a link on a Washington Post article, It’s obvious that the population of Savannah Elephants is showing a significant decline since 2010. This decline is primarily due to poaching. In addition, the study showed that there was no significant difference in the mortality rates in protected and unprotected areas, which means that protected areas are ineffective. Therefore, the study failed to reject the null hypothesis that there is no difference between protected and unprotected areas. In addition, research has shown that trophy hunting is not as lucrative for the economy as some may claim. Finally, Zimbabwe is currently in a state of political upheaval, which means it is in no position to further Elephant conservation. In my opinion, these factors together show that trophy hunting harms Elephants more than it helps them.
I chose this article because I remember seeing Elephant herds when I went on a trip to South Africa with my family in the summer of 2015. Having witnessed the beauty of these majestic creatures in the wild, I care a lot about Elephant conservation. In summary, supporters of trophy hunting claim that the revenue from permit fees can be put towards furthering conservation efforts for endangered species. On that note, President Trump reversed a ban on importing African Elephant trophies from Zimbabwe. However, this decision is now put on hold as President Trump reviews all the facts. This article goes on to provide further arguments against the ban’s reversal.
This article provided several sources of data to further their arguments. The most important piece of information I gleaned from this article was an in-depth study conducted by the Global Elephant Census. This census focused on two important questions. The first was to evaluate the effectiveness of protected areas on a continental scale by comparing Elephant populations in protected and unprotected areas. The second was how have Elephant populations changed across Africa in the past 20 years? The study concluded that there was a carcass ratio of 12.0 +/- 0.2% in protected areas and 13.2 +/- 0.3% in unprotected areas. Carcass ratios greater than 8 generally indicate a declining population.
There was not a significant difference between the two ratios, because the P-value was 0.49, and the fresh carcass ratio also did not show a significant difference (P-value 0.42). These findings could be interpreted in multiple ways. However, I interpreted these findings to mean that the protected areas were ineffective, otherwise I would expect to see a significant increase in Elephant mortality in the unprotected areas compared to the protected areas. In addition, the census estimated the total Elephant population to be 352,271. The population decreased by an estimated 144,000 from 2007-2014. The population is currently shrinking by roughly 8% per year.
There were also some concerns I had with this study, although not enough to discredit it entirely. The first was that they were unable to incorporate the data from South Africa into the study, which raised some red flags. South Africa contains Kruger National Park, which is a massive area of land. This data would have been valuable when estimating the total population. Another challenge of the study is that they used an aerial survey, which means that all observers missed some animals on surveys. Finally, the census only applied to Savannah Elephants. In conclusion, this study, in combination with the fact that research indicates that the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is only 0.03% of GDP, leads me to agree with the article’s claim that the ban should not be reversed.