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The Issue Of Trophy Hunting In Africa

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Trophy hunting in Africa is the shooting of carefully selected animals under official government license, for pleasure. The trophy is the animal or any body part that the hunter keeps as a souvenir. After the hunting game, the hunter will pay for what he shoot dead as a “donation” to local conservation works.

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Basing on contemporary animal ethics, lots of people tend to be really sensitive with empathy when towards issues on wildlife, especially citizens in northern cities today. Under this circumstance, trophy hunting in Africa has gained much more attention from both urban dwellers and the media(which is given much credit by its audience) these days, as well as criticism. There is a clamorous call for the legal ban on such hunting activities which seen as murder.

However, the situation in Africa is much more complex than how it often been seen. Death of both wild animals and local humans happens far beyond the hype of the urban media. Like lions, in reality they suffer mostly from “loss of habitat, prey loss from bushmeat poaching and conflict with local people”, while well-managed trophy hunting is actually helping the survival and coexistence of human and wildlife through protection of habitat and financial support overall, especially in those remote area without tourism. If people want to ban lethal hunting there, alternatives should be discovered or invented to guarantee same that those wild fields will be maintained unreclaimed with sufficient financial resources to support animal conservation. Additionally, the gap between people’s subjective judgment and the local reality may possibly pressure the governments to take relatively wrong action on issues with wild animals, which would cause more serious problems. The contradiction brought between necessity of hunting and mental morality of killing is one of the controversial contents involved. But this is about science rather than sentiment.

Besides, for people living on the demarcation line between the wild and the cities, it is much more urgent to solve local human-wildlife conflicts: the beasts eat the crops or drag away the livestocks, and humans hunt the particular one back for the community as a way of revenge. There are also underlying human-human conflicts, with Africa having a long and rich history of wars closely related to the decreasing population of wild animals. Countermeasures are took to relieve the conflicts such as Predator compensation fund (since 2003), The Lion Guardians (since 2007) and so on. Although it is a ‘hot potato’ in Africa as a result of the complex interest and ecological relationship behind, the business industry of trophy hunting is one of mature solutions to local situation facing severe crisis. Wolf issues in Finland recent years, Starving herbivore during Dutch rewilding experiment in Amsterdam…by comparing with familiar activities of managing the nature in northern earth, it could be helpful to understand local conflicts and trophy hunting in Africa.

The project is located in responsible design and discursive design, aiming to explore and discuss the complicated status quo of trophy hunting in Africa with the audience. Through image-making and practice-led research filled with comparison and contrast, my project tries to provoke people into critical rethinking rather than acceptance of human action to manage the nature and other wildlife in an anthropocentric stance, as well as today’s different perspectives on how to reach coexistence with wild animals. Looking into Dutch graphic designer Jan van Toorn’s work Design’s Delight, unrelated images are constructed together intertextually. The structure of this dialogic approach not only communicates the message narratively to the audience but also invites them to reconstruct the images and be the co-manipulators. His design method of creating dialogue with defamiliarization, the improved fierce interaction with the audience is also applied in this project. While news photos, chosen as main materials for design practice, may have already told the personal views of the photographer, the question that how to take advantage of these information and perspectives contained led the image-making process filled with careful comparison and consideration. The audience of this storytelling structure with different knowledge background is definitely encouraged to reach multiple understanding.

As a graphic designer working in a northern city, I could do little helpful for the local conflicts in Africa directly. But through this co-manipulating process with my audience, I hope these images produced in this project could influence more related workers to pay attention and make efforts.

03 December 2019

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