Jared Kukura is a wildlife conservation writer based in San Diego.
Last May, South Africa announced an end to its lion-bone industry. The country had allowed private farming of these magnificent animals to harvest their skeletons, which are used in traditional remedies promised to cure impotence and rheumatism. South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment likewise recommended ending the intensive farming of rhinos, which are raised for their horns.
Ending the commercial killing of threatened, vulnerable, or endangered wildlife would appear to align with the goals of all wildlife conservationists. But the South African government has drawn sharp criticism from some who subscribe to the notion of “sustainable use”: the idea that to save something, its economic value must be preserved and exploited.
What I’ve come to believe, however, is that sustainable use is being leveraged as palatable cover for unpalatable practices like trophy hunting and wildlife trade, while there’s little evidence that it benefits species or their habitat. It also turns out that some wildlife conservation groups and experts ha... Read more