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Trophy hunters are showoffs: UVic researcher

An opinion piece published in a peer-reviewed journal suggests trophy hunters have “evidence of show-off behaviour” with little societal benefit.

FILE - In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Andy Loveridge/Wildlife Conservation Research Unit via AP

FILE - In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Why do men trophy hunt?

Mostly just to show off, according to a University of Victoria researcher.

Chris Darimont, the Hakai-Raincoast professor of geography at UVic, recently published an opinion piece in the peer-reviewed journal Biology Letters looking into the phenomenon of trophy hunting among men from the developed world.

Unlike ancient hunter-gatherers or people of certain cultures today – who hunt bigger, dangerous animals as a way of bettering their status in society, as a manhood ritual or to share their kills with the greater community for food and sustenance – Dairmont writes the modern-day, contemporary incarnation of trophy hunting is largely devoid of such benefits.

He adds that hunting big game for sport also lacks the risk factor it once did because of advanced technologies and methods used to kill the animals.

Instead, the opinion piece answers “why do men trophy hunt?” by tying it to showing off and men showing how rich they are.

“Evidence for show-off behaviour appears clear,” the piece reads. “Trophy hunters commonly pose for photographs with their prey, with the heads, hides and ornamentation prepared for display.

“While rarely costly in terms of danger or difficulty, hunts for endangered species can be extraordinarily expensive.

“It is unclear what specific benefits – other than increased status – might accrue to trophy hunters.”

Darimont calls on more research looking into the motivations behind trophy hunting and how to discourage the practice.

He notes that social media boasting about trophy kills diminished after international backlash against U.S. dentist Walter Palmer for killing Cecil the lion in 2015.

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