In publica commoda

Press release: Certification of trophy hunting in Africa

Nr. 234/2017 - 21.11.2017

Göttingen researchers propose scheme to benefit nature conservation and local communities

(pug) The killing of lions, elephants and other big game in Africa has been fueling highly polarized debates for decades. An international team of researchers led by the University of Göttingen has now proposed a certification system to ensure that sustainability and ethics criteria are met by the trophy hunting industry. Such a system could translate into direct and large-scale benefits for large game populations, local communities and conservation funding in Africa. The study was published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The researchers base their proposal on the analysis of existing certification systems, for example of forestry and agricultural products. “Wildlife monitoring and adaptive co-management, effectively linking institutional structures across spatial and hierarchical levels, and consistent evaluation can help trophy hunting meet conservation and local development goals”, explains Göttingen agroecologist Dr. Thomas C. Wanger, one of the study’s lead authors.

According to the scientists, the criteria for the proposed certification will need to ensure adequate benefits of hunting to landowners or local communities, species-specific quotas, strict limits on minimum age and trophy size, and ethical hunting standards. The system could be routed through Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the primary framework to regulate international trophy movement.

“Applying the proposed certification system at the landscape level would mean a reduction of certification costs and the protection of ecosystem services in favor of local communities”, adds Prof. Dr. Teja Tscharntke, head of the Agroecology Group at Göttingen University and co-author of the study.

Along the lines of a solution-focused discussion on trophy hunting, the researchers aim to get a better understanding whether and to what extent the public is willing to support funding towards African conservation efforts. Their short online survey can be found at

Original publication: Thomas C. Wanger et al. Trophy hunting certification. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2017.

Dr. Thomas Cherico Wanger
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Agrarian Sciences
Agroecology Group