Trophy hunting hurts a species' chances of survival

Hunters view antlers of deer bucks during a trophy inspection in Hungary. Photo: Zsolt Czegledi / AP

Species of elephants, lions and other animals targeted by trophy hunters and poachers looking for the biggest, most impressive horns and antlers, have less of an ability to adapt to climate change, according to a new study by researchers at Queen Mary University.

The reason: Impressive antlers, manes and other characteristics can indicate how well an animal is doing overall, which can also mean they are better genetically equipped for their environment. "They also father a high proportion of the offspring. But if they're killed before they can spread their 'good genes' around, this reduces the overall fitness and resilience of that population," the study's lead author Robert Knell told National Geographic.