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Professor’s latest book explores controversial trophy hunting topic

University of Gloucestershire’s award-winning wildlife expert Professor Adam Hart has written the first book of its kind tackling the highly controversial and emotional issue of trophy hunters killing the likes of lions, rhinos and elephants.

In ‘Trophy Hunting’, Adam explores why the killing of wild animals for sport and entertainment, such as the well-publicised case of Cecil the lion who was shot dead by an American dentist in 2015, divides environmentalists, the hunting community, and the public.

For the first time, the book combines several different fields of academic study and research to provide a comprehensive investigation of trophy hunting – where parts of the dead animal, often the head, are displayed as ‘trophies’ – and its history, as well as delving into the background, identity, and motivation of trophy hunters.

‘Trophy Hunting’ – co-written with Nikolaj Bichel, from the University of Oxford – also explores the role of social media in shaping the discussion around trophy hunting, as well as the viability of trophy hunting as a wildlife management tool, the ideals of fair chase and sportsmanship, and the value of ‘hunting trophies’ to hunters and non-hunters.

Adam, Professor of Science Communication at the University, said: “Trophy hunting is a highly contentious issue that provokes strong views from people on both sides of the debate, which was perfectly illustrated by the heated reaction to the death of ‘Cecil’, an adult male lion, in Zimbabwe across international media and social media.

“As many will remember, that incident was particularly controversial as it was alleged that the lion, who was part of a research project and said to be hugely popular with tourists, was lured away from outside the protected Hwange National Park to be hunted and killed.

“In ‘Trophy Hunting’, Nikolaj and I consider the complex moral and practical conflicts between animal rights and issues around conservation, with supporters of trophy hunting, for example, arguing that it can provide economic incentives to preserve areas for wildlife.

“We hope the book will appeal to scholars in environmental philosophy, conservation and environmental studies, as well as hunters, hunting opponents, wildlife management practitioners, and policymakers, and anyone with a broad interest in human–wildlife relations.”

‘Trophy Hunting’ is the second book Adam has brought out this year, following ‘The Deadly Balance’ exploring the complex relationship between the world’s most terrifying predators and the people that live alongside them.

Alongside his role within the University’s School of Natural, Social and Sports Sciences, Adam is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.

He has made more than 30 radio documentaries on topics ranging from tree diseases to trophy hunting and was the co-host of the BBC TV documentaries Planet Ant and Hive Alive.

Adam’s work on thermal imaging in rhino anti-poaching in southern Africa, with Professor Anne Goodenough of the University of Gloucestershire, won him the UK Universities’ Green Gown award for Research with Impact. He is the writer and presenter of the wildlife podcast Tooth and Claw, which spotlights the world’s greatest predators, on the BBC World Service’s Discovery channel.