Prince William, heir to the British throne, is facing criticism from conservationists after claiming commercial big game hunting is “justifiable” under certain circumstances.
The Duke of Cambridge said “there is a place” for commercial hunting in Africa and around the world. He admitted there is a balance to be struck, which “does involve a lot of regulation.”
“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but the argument for regulated, properly controlled commercial hunting is that the money that goes from shooting a very old, infertile animal goes back into the protection of the other species,” he said.
The Duke told ITV News issuing hunting licenses for big game animals like lions might be justified if the animals are old and infertile, and if the funds from the licenses are used to protect threatened species.
“So when one is infertile, he’s at the end of his life, if somebody out there wants to pay that money — and it wouldn’t be me — but if somebody did, then as long as that money goes back into protection of the species, then it is a justifiable means of conserving species that are under serious threat,” he said.
Lion Aid, a charity organization in the UK that works to reverse the decline of African Lions, said it was a “sad day,” according to The Guardian.
“With likely less than 15,000 wild lions left in Africa, there is no place for commercial hunting of lions,” the charity said in a statement provided to The Guardian. “With an estimated 1,500 wild male lions in existence and with current ‘offtake’ for trophy hunting of 300 per annum, continued trophy hunting cannot be deemed as sustainable.”
The comments come after William unveiled a plan Tuesday to fight against the illegal wildlife trade in Africa, voicing concerns about declining wild elephant and rhino populations in the country, according to the BBC.
“We have faced up to the fact that if current trends continue, the last wild African elephants and rhinos will be killed before my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday,” he said.
The Duke of Cambridge faced a backlash in 2014 after going on a deer and wild boar hunting trip in Spain just days before speaking out against the illegal wildlife trade, though the Duke’s hunt was not in any way illegal.