There are more predators in South Africa now than one hundred years ago. This is the contradiction at the heart of Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz’s new film Trophy. Like most right-minded people, I believe trophy hunting to be absolutely abhorrent. The thought of rich North Americans flying out to Africa so they murder a wild animal makes my stomach churn. Especially when that killing is sanitised slaughter a child could perpetrate.
Trophy explores the world of big-game hunting, wildlife breeding and conservation through a non-judgemental gaze. With a growing number of species looking extinction squarely in the eye, including rhinos, lions and elephants, Clusiau and Schwarz venture to southern Africa to meet those trying a novel way to avert disaster. Those people breeding big game animals privately and those running conservation hunting operations.
Trophy poses a difficult quandary. Without conservation hunting many animals will go extinct through poaching. The only way to stop the poachers is to have enough money to protect the animals, both through hiring rangers and quota agreements with local villagers. So, is it right to put a numerical value on the life of a beast? I went in to Trophy truly believing it isn’t. By the end I’d changed my mind. Trophy does a brilliant job of tackling a complicated issue cleverly, imaginatively and non-judgementally.
Trophy is released in cinemas from 17 November.