Consequences of recreational hunting for biodiversity conservation and livelihoods

Authors: Enrico Di Minin, Hayley S. Clements, Ricardo A. Correia, Gonzalo Corte´ s-Capano, Christoph Fink,
Anna Haukka,Anna Hausmann, Ritwik Kulkarni, and Corey J.A. Bradshaw


This article discusses how research on recreational hunting is heavily focused on specific continents, species, and topics, often overlooking species that aren’t facing immediate extinction threats. The current literature is also biased towards large mammals, which could lead to knowledge gaps in understanding the impact of hunting on ecosystems and other species.

The authors point out that while hunting is often mentioned as a threat to endangered species, it’s not always clear if the threat comes from legal hunting or poaching. More research is needed to understand the effects of recreational hunting on conservation and to differentiate between its impacts and those of poaching.


Furthermore, the article highlights the need for research on the potential connections between recreational hunting and zoonotic disease risks, as well as on the role of local institutions in promoting sustainable hunting practices that benefit both people and nature.

Recreational hunting could be linked to zoonotic disease risks in several ways. Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to humans. The increased contact between humans and wildlife during hunting activities may lead to a higher risk of disease transmission. Here are some potential connections:

  1. Increased human-wildlife interaction: Recreational hunting requires close contact with wild animals, which can lead to the exposure of hunters and their communities to pathogens carried by these animals. This close contact increases the likelihood of zoonotic disease transmission.
  2. Handling and processing of game: After an animal has been hunted, it must be handled and processed, which involves further close contact with the animal and its bodily fluids. If the animal carries a zoonotic disease, this stage poses another opportunity for human transmission.
  3. Consumption of bushmeat: In some areas where hunting tourism declines or is absent, local people may rely more heavily on bushmeat consumption. This could increase the risk of zoonotic disease transmission through the handling and consumption of wild animal meat.

Moral Complexities

The authors also emphasize the importance of considering the moral complexity of recreational hunting, considering the experiences and opinions of people in different contexts. They suggest that alternative funding mechanisms for conservation should be explored, given the decreasing number of hunters in some regions and increasing opposition to trophy hunting in others.

Here are some critical aspects of the moral complexities of hunting:

Animal welfare and ethics: Hunting raises ethical concerns about intentionally killing animals for recreation, trophy, or food. Opponents argue that causing pain, suffering, or death to animals for human pleasure or benefit is morally unjustifiable.

Cultural perspectives: Hunting has been an integral part of many cultures throughout history, serving as a means of sustenance, a rite of passage, or a traditional practice. In some communities, hunting holds significant cultural value, and people may argue that their hunting practices should be respected and preserved.

Conservation and sustainability: Proponents of hunting often argue that regulated and sustainable hunting can contribute to conservation efforts by controlling overpopulated species, generating revenue for conservation programs, or incentivizing habitat preservation. However, unsustainable hunting practices can harm ecosystems and lead to the decline of target or other non-target species.


In conclusion, the article argues that more comprehensive research is needed to understand better the complex relationship between recreational hunting and biodiversity conservation, taking into account diverse contexts and perspectives.