Local animal activists spoke out Saturday against trophy hunting around the world. A protest took place outside Lowes Ventana Canyon where Safari Club International was holding a fundraiser.
SCI is headquartered here in Tucson and works to protect the rights of wildlife hunters. In less than one week, local animal rights group SPEAK gathered more than 1,000 signatures on Change.org. They started the petition to prevent Lowes Ventana Canyon from hosting an annual fundraiser for SCI. Despite SPEAK's efforts, the fundraiser still took place.
"We think it's time that people take a stand against trophy hunting," said SPEAK spokesperson Gary Vella.
About a dozen wildlife activists rallied outside the foothills resort in opposition of the Safari Club. On their website, SCI states they promote hunters rights and wildlife conservation.
Local animal advocates disagree.
"The idea that protecting them requires us to manipulate them, exploit them, abuse them or kill them just doesn't make any sense," said Brendan DeSmet.
They said the goal behind Saturday's rally was to get people talking.
"If nothing else, it's time that the rest of the community and the public at large start raising their heads up and say, 'You know something? These species are disappearing ten and twenty animals at a time and you people need to put your guns away and get out of the way,"' said Vella.
The protest comes about one year after outrage sparked when Cecil the lion was killed by an American dentist in Zimbabwe.
"It seems like the attention has died down somewhat," said DeSmet. "But the poachers, the hunters, the big game killers are still out there and it's important for everybody in their locale to speak up about their local wildlife and about the dwindling population all around the world."