The Duke of Cambridge has been criticised by a conservation charity for arguing the trophy hunting of animals is justifiable in some circumstances.
In an interview with ITV News, the heir to the throne said commercial hunting could, in fact, help to save some endangered species.
“There is a place for commercial hunting in Africa as there is around the world,” he said. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but the arguments for regulated, properly controlled commercial hunting is that the money that goes from shooting a very old infirm animal goes back into the protection of the other species.”
Prince William, who is president of United for Wildlife and patron of the Tusk Trust, explained that other “eminent conservationists” agreed with this viewpoint but added that attention needed to be paid to the regulation of the hunting industry.
“So when one is infertile, he’s at the end of his life, if somebody out there wants to pay that money - and it wouldn’t be me - but if somebody did, then as long as that money goes back into protection of the species then it is a justifiable means of conserving species that are under serious threat,” he added.
The most controversial animal killings
The most controversial animal killings
1/6 Cincinnati Zoo worker shots and kills Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla
Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla was shot and killed by a Cincinnati Zoo worker after a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure and was grabbed and dragged by Harambe. The incident was recorded on video and received broad international coverage and commentary, including controversy over the choice to kill Harambe. A number of primatologists and conservationists wrote later that the zoo had no other choice under the circumstances, and that it highlighted the danger of zoo animals in close proximity to humans and the need for better standards of care
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
2/6 Walt Palmer (left), from Minnesota, who killed Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion (pictured here with another lion shot in Africa)
Walter James Palmer has been named by Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force as the shooter of Cecil, a 13-year-old prized lion. He is now wanted by Zimbabwe officials on poaching charges. The lion was protected and the subject of a decade long study by the Wildlife Unit of Oxford University in the UK. He was outfitted with a GPS collar and was killed in Hwange National Park. The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said that two men were charged with poaching in connection to Mr Palmer
3/6 Kendall Jones hunting images
Kendall Jones, a 19-year-old Texas Tech university student, has provoked worldwide fury after posting pictures of herself smiling next to animals she hunted, including a lion, rhinoceros, antelope, leopard, elephant, zebra and hippopotamus
4/6 Rebecca Francis hunting images
Rebecca Francis, a huntress who has killed dozens of wild animals has been sent death wishes by furious social media users after a picture showing her lying down next to a dead giraffe was circulated. Rebecca Francis has a website and Facebook page dedicated to the animals she has killed in hunts across Africa and America. Francis, a prolific hunter who has also co-hosted the television show Eye of the Hunter, regularly posts pictures of herself posing next to dead bears, giraffes, buffaloes and zebras, among other animals. She uses a bow and arrow to kill her prey
5/6 The slaughter of Marius, an 18-month-old healthy giraffe in Copenhagen Zoo
Copenhagen Zoo made the controversial decision to euthanise a healthy giraffe named Marius, which was later dissected and fed to lions as visitors watched. The slaughter sparked a furious backlash from social media users and zoo staff have received death threats by phone and email. Soon after the incident, Copenhagen Zoo faced an international outcry once again after four healthy lions were put down
6/6 Swiss Dählhölzli zoo kills healthy brown bear cub
A Switzerland zoo faced heavy criticism from animal rights groups, after keepers put down a healthy brown bear cub to spare it from being bullied by its dominant male father. The 360 kg male bear Misha had already killed one of his 11-week old cubs in public and was bullying the second, staff at the zoo said, because he was jealous of the attention the cubs were receiving from their mother, Masha. Both adult brown bears had been donated to Bern’s Dählhölzli zoo in 2009. Campaigners condemned staff there for not separating the cubs, who are being referred to as Baby Bear Two and Baby Bear Three, and their mother from Misha after their birth in January
His comments coincide with his declaration that he will fight smugglers trafficking endangered animals’ parts to make money at Buckingham Palace.
In the televised interview, he also said there was a link between poaching and terrorism, calling for “urgent action” to end the corruption. “In certain areas there is potential evidence and links that I can’t go into myself but I know of that are of a concern that I think we should be taking more urgent action,” he added.
The UK-based charity Lion Aid said it was saddened to hear the Prince's remarks. The director, Dr Pieter Kat, told The Independent they “were very sad to hear Prince William state that 'there is a place for commercial hunting in Africa as there is around the world'”.
“With likely less than 15,000 wild lions left in Africa there is NO place for commercial hunting of lions. With an estimated 1,500 wild male lions in existence and with current offtake for trophy hunting of 300 per annum, continued trophy hunting cannot be deemed as sustainable. A lion of six years of age is not 'post reproduction' in fact it is just coming into his maturity, yet it is at this age most African Countries offer these prime males as trophy,” Dr Kat added.
Prince William's comments also sparked anger on Twitter.
In 2014, Prince William came under fire for going on a deer and wild boar hunting holiday on a Spanish estate just days before he launched a high-profile appeal to put a stop to the illegal hunting of wildlife. His remarks about trophy hunting are likely to be taken as evidence of hypocrisy by his critics.