Endangered species need to be protected from poaching, but how to do it? That’s the question posed by this thought-provoking doc. One surprising option is charging wealthy American hunters to shoot farmed rare breeds, so the revenue can support conservation efforts.
The idea sounds outrageous, but ‘Trophy’ approaches the thorny subject with an open mind. One tough sequence shows a downed rhino having its horns sawn off, but it’s among hundreds of rhinos bred by a white South African property magnate, and the de-horning is designed to prevent their poaching for the Asian medicine market. Without legal trade in the horns his efforts are economically unsustainable.
Meanwhile, a bible-quoting Texan hunter reckons the Lord gave man dominion over the animals, a Las Vegas big game convention brings together some of the world’s vilest individuals, and so-called ‘canned hunting’ of farmed rare stock proves a pitiful spectacle. The hunters’ coin however, helps a game ranger in cash-strapped Zimbabwe stop the country’s wildlife being killed for food and profit.
It’s a moral maze all right, and be warned: it isn’t always pretty to watch. The film has no easy answers, but it does strenuously challenge all sides of the argument. Which is exactly what you want from a great documentary.