Facts matter and misinformation can have devastating real-world impacts. This is as true in the African bush as it is in the US Capitol. That is why we are deeply concerned when we read overt misinformation about trophy hunting, such as in the opinion pieces by photographer Cyril Christo on 25th January and 10th February.
Trophy hunting is an emotive and polarising issue ripe for misinformation. Much of the discussion on both sides occurs in echo chambers, where falsehoods and half-truths are shared and perpetuated. Misinformation can eventually make its way into policy debates as it has in Congress, the California Legislature, and the UK Parliament. Just as with anti-vaccine falsehoods and climate change denial, these misinformation campaigns must be called out for the significant harm they do. As the scientist Kelvin Peh stated so well: ‘Truth not only continues to matter; it remains the biggest weapon and shield for all wildlife conservationists and environmental scientists in a world of increasingly wanton, politically-motivated myth-making.’
There are many statements in Mr. Christo’s long contributions which could be debated, but three central (and common) misconceptions stand out. These are not unique to Mr. Christo’s articles: these misconceptions are commonly spread by anti-trophy hunting campaign groups. Such misinformation must be tackled so that policy-makers can be better informed.