Rarity, trophy hunting and ungulates


  • Editor: Iain Gordon

  • Associate Editor: John Linnell

Lucille Palazy. Current address: UMR CNRS 5558, Univ Lyon 1, 43 bd 11 nov, 69622 Villeurbanne cedex, France. Tel: +33
Email: lucille.palazy@u-psud.fr


The size and shape of a trophy constitute major determinants of its value. We postulate that the rarity of a species, whatever its causes, also plays a major role in determining its value among hunters. We investigated a role for an Anthropogenic Allee effect in trophy hunting, where human attraction to rarity could lead to an over-exploitative chain reaction that could eventually drive the targeted species to extinction. We performed an inter-specific analysis of trophy prices of 202 ungulate taxa and quantified to what extent morphological characteristics and their rarity accounted for the observed variation in their price. We found that once location and body mass were accounted for, trophies of rare species attain higher prices than those of more common species. By driving trophy price increase, this rarity effect may encourage the exploitation of rare species regardless of their availability, with potentially profound consequences for populations.