Hunting animals for sport poses significant animal welfare risks in relation to the pursuit of animals, use of dogs, injuries caused, and the potential for a slow, painful death (where animals have not been killed outright). The RSPCA opposes recreational hunting, or the act of stalking or pursuing an animal and then killing it for sport, due to the inherent and inevitable pain and suffering caused.
Trophy hunting involves organised hunts where the hunter takes the ‘trophy’, which is usually the whole or part of the animal they have killed, e.g. pelt, head, feet etc. This form of hunting is purely for sport and pleasure and is permitted in Australia. Buffalo and wild boar hunting tourist safaris are regularly conducted in the Northern Territory. In 2014, the Victorian government fully supported the promotion of trophy deer hunting. Unfortunately, the animal welfare implications of such activities are often overlooked when potential economic benefits take priority. Some proponents of hunting promote it as a valuable conservation activity, where feral or pest animals are killed, thereby helping to protect native animals and the environment but there is no evidence to support this assertion.
Canned hunting has been developed in some parts of Africa and is expanding. It involves the captive breeding of lions and other game species which are then hunted by tourists who have paid large sums of money for the experience. The hunting occurs in enclosed areas where the animal has no means of escape – hence the term ‘canned’ means that the kill is guaranteed or ‘in the can’. It has been reported that some animals are released into very small areas and some have been drugged to reduce their ability to flee, adding to the unfair advantage that the hunter already has.
Fortunately, in March 2015, the Australian Government announced a ban on importing or exporting trophies by hunters who had travelled overseas in an effort to protect African lions and rhinos from this barbaric sport. Canned hunting of this nature is not conducted in Australia.