More than 20,000 hunters have descended on Las Vegas this week for the 44th Annual Safari Club International Convention.
“It’s the greatest gathering of hunter conservationists in the world,” said Larry Higgins, President of the Safari Club International.
The show has drawn criticism for its focus on overseas trophy hunting. The trophy hunting community received a black-eye last year when Minnesota dentist, Walter James Palmer, killed Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. The SCI even revoked Palmer’s license.
SCI says conservation is a major part of their mission.
“Everything that we will do in the next four days supports the missions of Safari Club; conserving our wildlife and protecting our freedom to hunt,” Higgins said.
Safari Club International website says 70 percent of the money raised will goes toward conservation efforts by the group worldwide. It’s something SCI member Bill Racine says he is proud of.
“SCI does a lot of conservation stuff, Racine said. “They help people over in Africa. Their hunts help the native people over there.”
The Humane Society International disagrees. Citing a 2012 study by eco resources at large, it concluded that only 3 percent of money spent on trophy hunts make it to the communities.
African hunts can cost tens of thousands of dollars which usually covers travel, hunting permits, a hunting guide, and other expenses.
“The money that you spend over there, most of it goes to the local people over there,” Racine said.
The Humane Society says the money doesn’t go toward helping people.
“The funds that are raised from trophy hunting are not actually making it to the conservation efforts, said Masha Kalinina, Humane Society International. “We’re playing a key part in a blood sport that’s taking away the world’s most magnificent animals.”
Ever since July 2015, 45 major airlines have decided to ban the transport of several trophy animals from Africa. The Humane Society says some African countries are even starting to ban exports of trophy animals.