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African safaris have recently been put in the spotlight, thanks to news about Donald Trump’s sons taking Cape buffalo and leopard in Zimbabwe and Spain’s King Juan Carlos breaking his hip during an unsuccessful elephant hunt in Botswana. But not all attention is flattering.

Although both adventures are perfectly legal in the host countries, and the trophies taken can be imported to the U.S. under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), some argue that the men’s actions were barbaric and/or immoral.

Conservationists and hunters counter by saying that safari hunting creates jobs, pumps money into local economies, and ultimately protects the species by giving animals a monetary value and a means for protection from poachers and habitat loss.

A recent Reuters article by Ed Stoddard notes that a safari hunt is similar to a guided climb on Mt. Everest — both can push more than $100,000 into the economy of a developing country. This same article also points out the absurdity of the claim that elephants are somehow endangered in Botswana or that killing one will lead to the species demise:

“According to a 2007 estimate by the African Elephant Specialist Group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) … Botswana was home to at least 133,000 elephants but around 150,000 was given as the ‘probable’ figure.”

How would killing one out of 150,000 put the species in jeopardy? How would killing 400 — Botswana’s annual quota — of 150,000 elephants harm the species as a whole?

Jason Bell, the elephant program director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare didn’t argue with the numbers in Stoddard’s article. He said hunting is “cruel” and that elephants are so intelligent that hunting effects them “not only at the level of the individual animal, but at the societal level too.”

So hunting elephants hurts their feelings? That’s his argument?

I think the argument that hunting protects the species as a whole, while helping humans economically is a far better one. Do you agree? Or did I hurt your feelings? Comment below!

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