“An animal is killed by a trophy hunter every 3 minutes. Trophy hunters shoot 100 endangered animals every day. Trophy hunting is a multi-million dollar industry with a sophisticated lobbying machine funded by powerful groups that include weapons manufacturers. There is one organisation that lies at the heart of this story. Its name is Safari Club International (SCI). In 2021, SCI celebrates its 50th anniversary. This book reveals some of the shocking tactics used by SCI to defend hunters’ so-called “rights”. Introduction, Page 14, Trophy Leaks.
Where to begin, where to begin…or where to go with a review after opening lines like that?
Well, how about with, this is the third in a trilogy of exposes written by the fearless campaigner and journalist (and ridiculously hard-working) Eduardo Goncalves, who is topping a long career of compassion and achievement with his Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting.
Our review of the first book in the series, ‘Trophy Hunters Exposed’ (THE), is here. In it we said that THE “precisely dissects the Industry (“one of the world’s most powerful political lobbies”), dispassionately lists the worst of the world’s self-glorifying hunters, before finally detailing exactly why these apparently sexually inadequate, delusional, ‘freedom fighters’ only feel alive when they’re killing something (in the name of ‘conservation’ of course)…
Nothing in Eduardo’s following two books changes any of that. Trophy hunting remains nothing more than a disgusting form of amusement, of exploitation of wildlife, people and landscapes, by a relatively small group of armed vandals.
‘Trophy Hunters Exposed’ read like an indictment and this third book, ‘Trophy Leaks‘ (TL) reads the same way. It is essentially an extraordinary inventory of venality, a catalogue of selfishness coming in at just over two hundred pages that could almost exist as one long webpage written out in list format. And it’s all the better for that. Stripped of anything superfluous, ‘Trophy Leaks’ is a powerful speech in book form, every paragraph reinforced with a fist banging on the lectern and a master campaigner fixing his stunned audience with an unflinching gaze.
And this really is one hell of a speech. Convincing, shocking, desperately sad. Unforgettable. Fact follows fact, name follows name. Death follows death after death.
Perhaps most shocking of all are the pages detailing the awards, the kill-lists, the pride taken in leading utterly meaningless competitions to slaughter different species in different countries. They’re all the more bizarre because this handful of ‘winners’, these men and women with weapons but seemingly no ability to comprehend and rein in their most primitive instincts, are high-achievers. Lawyers, Company Directors, Doctors, high-fliers. They’re not stupid or unintelligent, yet they just can’t resist preening themselves like idiots as they come as close to masturbating over an animal corpse as they can get away with. (Yes, It’s as sickening as it sounds.)
Thousands of awards have been dished out to recognise the ‘skills’ of going overseas, being led to an unsuspecting animal, and killing it. Some of the ‘achievements’ are baffling and heartbreaking. The book states, for example, that 268 ‘hunters’ have been presented with some version or other of Safari Club International award for killing at least 100 different species. Many people have never seen even close to a hundred different mammal species, let alone deliberately murdered all of them. Reading about these hideous individuals, the lasting impression is that while the rest of us have learned to restrain ourselves, have developed and evolved, have worked to become more self-aware and more understanding, the narcissistic cabal detailed in this book are ruled only by “Because we can, we will‘. Collecting animal bits, displaying animal bits, posing with animal bits, they appear as selfish and self-centred individuals. Large egos with vanishingly small souls.
As you may have guessed already, ‘Trophy Leaks’ is not an easy read. It’s disturbing and slightly depressing – which doesn’t sound like a recommendation, but on the contrary all three books must be faced down and read. Gather up your courage and dive right in. Your life will be changed.
No, you shouldn’t come to this series hoping to be cheered up (inspired certainly, but not cheered up), but it’s almost guaranteed that unless you too get your kicks killing animals you’ll come away determined and enthused – as well as bewildered how you could possibly belong to the same species as these moral vacuums. These individuals who roam the world gunning down wildlife because they can combine their wealth with a gaping lack of morals or ethics. Eduardo’s books have revealed just how ‘different’ these people and their organisations are to the rest of us. How unsympathetic and ugly. I mean, what sort of degenerate enjoys shooting pigs from a helicopter using semi-automatic rifles for God’s sake…
That last example hits you early on in ‘Trophy Leaks’. The book is full of deeply aberrant behaviour just like it. What’s more the facts laid out in all three books are undeniable – they’re taken straight from trophy hunting conferences, sales brochures, internal reports, forums, from the foam-flecked mouths of the hunters themselves after all. They stand in stark and immediate contrast with where most researchers, scientists, members of the public, communities and even society itself are headed: towards a kinder, more compassionate world where we protect what is left, rather than butcher it for a giggle and stick it up on our walls as if we’d done something to be proud about.
Not an easy read, and not laid out in story form. Does that make ‘Trophy Leaks’ a book that’s impossible to read from cover to cover? It probably does, but that’s not a criticism. It’s not intended to be an emotional commentary or an insider’s moment of clarity and revelation. It isn’t meant to read like a story. It’s a compendium. A precise collection of information that blasts a hole right through the centre of trophy hunting. But whether you study it, flick through it, or use it as a reference (like Google in book form), whatever way you approach it you will never fall for the trophy industry’s smokescreen of lies, of Orwellian claims of ‘conservation’ and ‘respect for the quarry’ again.
Nor will you believe the disgracefully faked social media campaigns (Safari Club International funded a massive ‘cyber warfare’ operation against Defra to maintain UK imports of dead animals), or the increasingly histrionic statements to persuade us that what it does has value. As CBTH and Eduardo’s books have made clear whatever value trophy hunting has, it measures it solely in animal parts and cold, hard cash. Whatever it does, it does for itself. Whatever love trophy hunters have, it is for themselves.
Will these books change anything in the long-term? They already have. Taken as part of a larger whole, the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting in toto, this series of books (and Eduardo especially) is having a huge impact. Trophy hunting has been left utterly exposed. Eduardo’s determined and unblinking scrutiny has torn it apart. It has lost credibility and lost the argument. National media have joined Eduardo, campaigners and activists with huge influence have rallied alongside him. Governments are faced with truths they can’t shy away from. Yes, there is more to do, but the direction of travel is one way. Trophy hunting’s ‘glory days’ are in the past. Change is coming.
Taking on an industry that is so used to getting everything all its own way was courageous, to have such a global impact is an incredible achievement. We can only hope that Eduardo takes time to look up from his notes and his keyboard every so often and reflect on what he’s managed to do. He certainly deserves to…
Of course, animals are still dying and the revolting Safari Cub International is still playing with itself over in the corner of the room, so it’s pretty much certain that Eduardo isn’t fully satisfied just yet. Which is where we come in. Let’s educate ourselves, read these books, and support the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting. There is more still to do, and even a powerhouse like Eduardo Goncalves can’t do it all on his own…
The Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting is working for the following:
• For Governments to ban trophy hunting and ban the import and export of hunting trophies
• For the effective enforcement of existing national and international laws against trophy hunting, with tough
penalties for offenders
• For an immediate halt to the trade in trophies of vulnerable, threatened or endangered species
• For trophy hunting exemptions to be removed from existing international conservation agreements
• For negotiations to commence on a comprehensive global agreement banning trophy hunting
Their website is at https://bantrophyhunting.org/