For millennia, hunting has been the main source of nourishment for mankind. It is so well ingrained into our own consciousness that it is incredibly hard to shake off. Nevertheless, hunting in the 21st century has lost much of its previous importance and needs to be seen in a different light than before.
Today’s hunting, at least the type we are all more familiar with, is done mainly for sports and entertainment purposes, rather than being the main source of food for the hunters, themselves. There are two other major forms of hunting practiced nowadays, both of which being full-fledged industries in and of themselves: poaching and fishing.
Their impact on a global scale is unprecedented and will lead to an eventual and accelerated disappearance of most animal species on Earth. In fact, over half of the world’s wildlife has disappeared just over the past four decades, and experts believe that, if this trend continues, that number can reach two-thirds by 2020.
These gloomy statistics aren’t the result of only hunting – with habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and wildlife trade being major contributors, as well. Poaching has, nevertheless, become rampant in a lot of parts of the world, mainly in Africa, South America, and South East Asia – with many of the species targeted seeing a steep drop in their populations.
Overfishing in the world’s oceans is another pressing issue that needs to be addressed. With the arrival of ever-more larger and technologically-advanced fishing vessels, the once seemingly inexhaustible oceans are expected to be completely devoid of commercially-viable fish by 2048. Many of the world’s fisheries have already collapsed under the strain of overfishing, and they are not expected to replenish themselves anytime soon; if ever. The annual fish capture around the world is of about 93.4 million tons, which is then further supplemented by aquaculture (fish farming), to make up for the 160-million-ton global consumption.
Sports hunting does not have the same tremendous impact as the other ones presented above, but it certainly doesn’t help the overall situation. Between 1970 and 2005, the number of large animals in protected areas has dropped by over 60 percent. Nevertheless, some avid trophy hunters make the argument that their hobby actually helps preserve these dwindling populations of animals. A single, two-week elephant hunting expedition can have a whopping $80,000 price tag attached to it – money which is then reinvested in preserving the overall population.
But the sad reality here is that this may be nothing more than just wishful thinking. With the prices being so high, trophy hunting has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry. This doesn’t require any stretch of the imagination to see just how dangerous this situation can become for the local wildlife. While there are regulations and quotas put in place, these are overseen by oftentimes shady and openly corrupt governments. The lack of transparency makes it difficult to ascertain the supposed benefits this business model has to offer – other than filling a few people’s pockets.
In the more developed parts of the world, trophy hunting isn’t as widespread and is much better regulated. Nevertheless, various degrees of corruption and lack of transparency exist even here.
In light of these overwhelming statistics, hunting in the 21st century is nothing more than a luxury for a certain few, to the detriment of the whole planet’s wellbeing. And even if the hunters end up eating the animals they hunt, it is important to remember that over 1.3 billion tons of food is being wasted every year – a statistic that makes even this argument invalid.