Nikon in the line of fire over rifle sights for big game hunting
Nikon, one of photography’s most respected names, faces a backlash from within the industry for portraying itself as a friend of wildlife photography while making sights for rifles for big game trophy hunters in the US and Africa. The Japanese camera manufacturer makes a rifle scope designed specifically for killing large game, the £170 “Monarch African”.
Nikon’s marketing literature boasts that the scope is perfect “for those seeking their dangerous game adventure on the dark continent” and is “the proven choice for dangerous big game hunting”, adding: “Africa has long been a continent of dreams for hunters around the world.”
In its latest catalogue for amateur and professional photographers, meanwhile, Nikon describes itself as being “at the heart of nature”. Next to a photograph of two polar bears, it states: “Nature is full of moments of timeless beauty, to be captured before they are gone forever.”
Nikon in the UK failed to respond to The Independent’s questions. Animal welfare campaigners criticised the stance of the company, part of Japan’s vast Mitsubishi conglomerate. Trophy hunting is highly controversial among wildlife campaigners. Wealthy western hunters typically pay tens of thousands of pounds to shoot big game. South Africa earns around $100m a year by sanctioning the hunting (which it classes as “eco-tourism”), leading to the deaths of approximately 54,000 animals. Hunters typically target the biggest and strongest animals, who provide the more attractive trophies (stuffed animals and fur rugs etc). In the case of lions this is often the dominant male. In the absence of the dominant male, a rival lion will move in and kill any cubs fathered by the absent male, diminishing the lion population.
According to Scientific American magazine, trophy hunters have played a part in the halving of lion population in Africa over the past 30 years.