Hunters join big game trophy-hunting club

Safari Club International has been criticised for promoting the trophy hunting of endangered animals

The hunting club came under fire after the 2015 killing of Cecil the Lion (pictured)
The hunting club came under fire after the 2015 killing of Cecil the Lion (pictured)

Maltese hunting lobby FKNK has become an affiliate member of the world’s largest trophy hunting club, which has been criticised for promoting the killing of rare animals.

FKNK chief executive Lino Farrugia told MaltaToday that he fully believes that the US-based Safari Club International (SCI) promotes sustainable hunting.

“We’ve got nothing against trophy hunting, so long as it is carried out legally and sustainably,” he said. “Taxidermy is an art that is practised worldwide. Just as some hunters shoot animals to eat them, so do others shoot animals to mount them. If a lion or an elephant is legally huntable, then yes, it can be sustainable.” 

The hunting club, which has been active since 1973, came under fire in 2015 after one of its then members – dentist Walter Palmer – killed the famous lion Cecil in Zimbabwe. 

Although it describes itself as an organisation that promotes wildlife conversation, the club has been criticised by animal protection activists for promoting the killing of tens of thousands of animals, including those on the brink of extinction. Indeed, a recent report by the Humane Society of the United States based on the SCI’s private online database found that its affiliate hunters have killed over 2,000 lions, 800 elephants and 93 black rhinos over the past 60 years. 

SCI allows its members to compete for annual awards in various categories, including for killing the most species in the most distant places and for killing big cats, elephants, bears, moose and other species across the globe. Each hunt is entered into SCI’s online record book, which then ranks the ‘trophies’ based on their size and categorizes them by method of kill.

The most coveted price is the ‘World Hunting Award’ or so-called ‘Super-Bowl ring’ of hunting, a gold and diamond-crusted ring that has so far been bestowed on fewer than 100 hunters who have killed several animals in 30 lower award categories. 

Lino Farrugia dismissed concerns aired about SCI in the Humane Society report, arguing that he can bring forward “a hundred reports” to prove that the club promotes sustainable hunting. 

“We fully support their objectives to promote wildlife conservation and sustainable hunting,” he said.