Professor Adam Hart speaks up for hunting tourism. He is one of the few British academics brave enough to support regulated trophy hunting.
Science says that hunting tourism works for wildlife – but the professor’s support for it draws abuse from anti-hunting academics.
For celebrities such as chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall, who used to support regulated hunting, no science is enough to justify it now. She campaigns against hunting tourism.
Professor Hart’s support for hunting draws criticism from antis and academics. Her says that, if he were younger, it would probably affect his career. He says: “I know for a fact that a number of academics won’t speak out in social media because they don’t want to get involved. I respect that, but I I’m quite happy to get involved with this.
He says he’s been looking at the issues the last decade. He says: “I’ve been essentially an applied ecologist working in Southern Africa and looking at ecological situations, which include hunting. I have been looking at hunting for the last seven years.”
When big game hunters faced harassment from a billboard campaign outside the Westminster parliament, Professor Hart says he’s not surprised by the antis’ tactics. He says it helps antis get publicity but doesn’t help conservation.
He says the abuse shouldn’t stop scientist speaking up and defending the evidence behind conservation.
He says: “ It is a science. And there’s plenty of evidence there. It’s our job as scientists to present that evidence to people.”
Ryan knows that his film may not change the minds of antis, but he hopes it will reach people willing to listen to the facts. He says that, although trophy hunting comes from a colonial past, communities have a choice now whether to use it or not.
He says: “I think that’s the big thing. It does play a large part in wildlife conservation. It benefits people and motivates people to want to live with wildlife.
“They’re not easy animals to live around, especially when we’re talking about elephants, lions and leopards.”
Professor Hart says the people he argues against tend to be against the consumptive use of wildlife, not just anti trophy hunttng. He says: “They’re anti the use of animals in any way. They are people who are never going to come away from a film like this with a sense that perhaps they were wrong. They are ideologically charged in terms of their attitudes towards animals.”
He believes the film may influence the views of people who have read certain kinds of anti-hunting media. He says: “If they’re looking at clickbait headlines about people turning elephants into wastepaper basket, perhaps they haven’t really thought it through.
“They’ll come away with an understanding that perhaps what they’ve read in 200 words on some clickbait article isn’t necessarily the full truth. In some cases, actually isn’t even a partial truth. But they’ll come away with it with a more enhanced understanding, hopefully”
He says the film shows communities can gain benefits from trophy hunting. He says: “Ryan spoke to people. He clearly outlined the benefits that they get and also clearly outlined some of the problems and some of the issues. It’s a very open-handed film.”
Professor Hart. says: “I think Ryan and Oscar have done an incredible job at weaving together those stories.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to go and speak directly to people. But Ryan did. And it’s nice to eavesdrop on those conversations.”
Ryan admits some of his friends who are vegans are surprised by his decision to make the film.
He says: “I was vegan for a very long time. I’ve only just this year started to eat a tiny bit of meat due to health reasons. Once a week I eat a tiny bit of venison.“
He says: “I think people like looking at me going, ‘Really? You’re doing a film about trophy hunting?’.“
Ryan says that many peopleexpected his film to criticise trophy hunting. He says: ”When they saw is a platform for what local people were saying. They’re a bit taken aback.”
As a scientist and a father, Professor Hart is clear why he feels that showing the truth about trophy hunting and its role in protecting species is essential.
He says: “I’m interested in this from an academic perspective, and I’m interested in it because I want my children and my grandchildren and my grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to go to places like Southern Africa and be able to see wildlife outside of protected areas, national parks and fortress style conservation, as I’ve been able to.”
He says that trophy hunting is part of a conservation landscape and a conservation toolkit. “Just because many people don’t like it – and I would include me actually in that, as I don’t like seeing those images any more than many other people – it doesn’t change the fact that it is still playing in many cases a positive path in conservation,” he says.