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Characterizing the trophy hunting debate on Twitter

Evans, L. C. ORCID:, Greenwell, M. P. ORCID:, Boult, V. L. ORCID: and Johnson, T. F. (2023) Characterizing the trophy hunting debate on Twitter. Conservation Biology, 37 (4). e14070. ISSN 1523-1739

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/cobi.14070


Social media is an arena of debate for contentious political and social topics. One conservation topic debated online is the acceptability of trophy hunting – with implications spilling over into national and international policy. Here, we utilise a mixed-methods approach (combining Grounded Theory and quantitative clustering) to identify themes emerging in the trophy hunting debate on Twitter. Our main result is the identification of 12 categories that describe people’s stances on trophy hunting. Through examination of commonly co-occurring categories, we define four preliminary anti-trophy hunting archetypes which we term “Activism”, “Scientific”, “Condemning”, and “Objecting” whose opposition to trophy hunting is derived from different moral reasoning. We found few tweets supporting trophy hunting with most tweeters opposing the practice. We also found that the debate was hostile, with 7% of tweets in our sample considered abusive. Online debates can be unproductive, and our findings may be important for stakeholders wishing to effectively engage in the trophy hunting debate on Twitter. More generally, we contend that, as social media is increasingly influential, it is important to formally contextualise public responses to contentious conservation topics to aid communication of conservation evidence and to integrate diverse public perspectives into conservation practice.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:110360

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