Profs & Pints: Trophy Hunting and Science
Profs and Pints presents: "Trophy Hunting and Science," with Kendra Chritz, paleoecologist and postdoctoral fellow at the National Museum of Natural History.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt is regarded as one of the most influential conservationists of all time, having drafted the Antiquities Act in 1906, which protected nearly 230 million acres of public land. He also, however, was an avid hunter. On one particularly prolific trip to eastern Africa, he personally shot 512 mammals with the assistance of his son, Kermit. It was no ordinary hunting trip, but a scientific expedition to better understand African mammals and their environments, undertaken with the involvement of the Smithsonian Institution. Today, the collections undertaken at the time play a vital role in the fight for the conservation of the very species that Roosevelt shot.
The story of Roosevelt's hunting expeditions illustrates the complicated relationship between big-game hunters, conservationists, and sciences. Big-game hunters and conservationists and conservation-oriented organizations are often at odds with one another when it comes to the basics of how to protect species, but their goals are the same: keep species alive so we can enjoy their presence well into the future. Animal rights organizations such as PETA have worked hard to protect species with a strong anti-hunting stance that resonates with many people, and trophy hunting of rare or threatened species often sparks outrage (think Cecil the lion in 2015). The tensions that exist between these groups bring up tough questions: What is the value of an animal in the wild? What is the difference between poaching and hunting, especially in terms of impact on wildlife? How do we save species from extinction, and can hunting them sometimes actually help save them?
Well explore the legacy of both legal and illegal hunting in Africa, modern issues in mammal conservation, the complicated issues surrounding trophy hunting, and the story of how Teddy Roosevelt could reconcile being both a champion of conservation and one of the most prolific hunters of the early 20th century.
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