Those with vested interests in legalized hunting -- like the Waldrips' guide, Jeff Rann -- would argue that poachers can and will circumvent photo-safaris and other ecotourism concessions, as they have in Kenya. But poaching is not an inevitability; all it takes is "some combination of public policy, private money, and anti-ivory market pressures" to "render hunting obsolete as a conservation instrument," Tower points out.
It's easier said than done, certainly -- but if we know that making elephants valuable to communities is necessary, and we know how to monetize them in a non-lethal way, then there is no excuse for trophy hunting. Alternative tourism ventures, such as Thailand's Elephant Nature Park, have proven hugely successful at protecting elephant populations without killing relying on blood money. It's not a form of conservation. It's a cop-out that allows those wealthy and willing enough to participate to pay for the right to poach.
Trophy hunting advocates tout the activity as a key form of conservation -- but in reality, it merely contributes to the gradual decimation of endangered species around the world. Join us in pledging never to support big game hunting of any form, and to stand with governments that ban the sale of imported animal "trophies."