Nikon under fire over rifle scopes designed for ‘dangerous game’ hunting


Nikon has come under fire from animal welfare groups and some wildlife photographers over its new ‘Monarch’ line of rifle scopes, designed for game hunting.

Nikon has manufactured ‘sports optics’ for many years, and is not alone (so does Leica, Pentax and Carl Zeiss, for example) but it is the marketing behind its newest Monarch line of scopes that has caused anger in some quarters. Marketed as being ‘Engineered for Safari’ Nikon claims that the new Monarch-series scopes are created ‘for those seeking dangerous game adventure on the Dark Continent’ – an archaic term for Africa which is controversial in itself. 

Nikon’s new Monarch range of rifle scopes are aimed specifically at hunters – something that has angered wildlife campaigners and some photographers.  

Among those who have taken Nikon to task are wildlife protection groups and some Nikon users who shoot animals with cameras and lenses, rather than guns. British newspaper The Independent has published a short feature on the controversy, noting that Nikon’s photographic products are often marketed as ideal tools for getting close to, and capturing images of animals, while – crucially – not harming them.

In fact, in Nikon’s latest catalogue the company claims to be ‘at the heart of nature’ (no pun intended – presumably) and like most camera manufacturers, Nikon’s marketing materials for high-end cameras and lenses are typically packed with photographs of rare and endangered animals, and quotes from high-profile wildlife photographers who use Nikon gear. The company has also sponsored numerous wildlife photography competitions and among many feature articles on its American website, you’ll find an article by Moose Peterson, entitled ‘Preservation of Wildlife Through Photography‘. Elsewhere, in Nikon’s current photo catalogue, a photograph of a pair of polar bears is captioned ‘Nature is full of moments of timeless beauty, to be captured before they are gone forever’.

Nikon’s ‘Coyote Special’ riflescope is designed to be used in the killing of coyotes – the most damaging predators to livestock in North America. A very different type of use to trophy hunting in Africa, and far less controversial. 

Trophy hunting, of the sort that Nikon seems to be explicitly referencing in the marketing materials for its Monarch-series scopes, is hugely controversial. This kind of hunting is highly lucrative for many African countries, but many claim that it is damaging, too. The Independent cites research by Scientific American magazine research that suggests the practice may have contributed to a halving of the population of lions in Africa over 30 years.

What do you think? Nikon isn’t alone among photographic companies in making equipment designed for use in hunting, and also not uniquely, Nikon has created optical equipment for military use in the past. So is manufacturing rifle scopes for trophy hunters inconsistent with Nikon’s claim to be ‘at the heart of nature’? Or should Nikon’s product lines be viewed separately, and only considered on their merits for their intended use?

Let us know in the comments (which will be carefully moderated).

via The Independant.


Red Colorado

For me that’s enough reason to never more consider Nikon as my brand of choice.


hm, I could never understand the fun side in shooting and killing animals (even after reading most of hemingway)

Chuck Lantz

What’s next? Protests against Nikon by anti-porn groups, if their products are used for those “assignments”?


If they market a camera specifically intended for porn, as they do with certain scopes specifically intended to help kill animals, perhaps.


If they developed a camera that was marketed strictly for pornography then yes, I think there would be protests. “Hey, not only is this camera great for porn, go to a country where you can easily break their exploitation laws and use it there! NIKON — WE PANDER TO THE DREGS OF THE HUMAN SPECIES!!!”
On a serious note, this sounds like one of those ad campaigns some intern came up with but was never supposed to be released, but good ol’ Bob in accounting was asked to grab the boards to take to the marketing department and Phil mixed up the homework from the interns with the real ads. Oh, this wacky ad agency should be a sitcom!


Good scopes are a great aid in not crippling animals.


I am very confident that Nikon Photo and Nikon Sports Optics are totally separate companies, No joint ownership? Nikon Photo has no control over what Nikon Sport optics does or what they make and or market.


I want one on my HK416 “for dangerous game adventure on the Dark Continent”..

If you get what I mean.

On more serious note. Yea hunting is bad (tho some is actually needed to keep balance of nature, cause we previously scre*ed that up at first place). But is that amount of political correctness really needed? Usually denial of truth is much worse than saying it out loud. But of course history is written by winners, so whats “truth” anyway..

I would probably prefer different brand in this case.. Nikon is good in making cams and lenses, not so great when it comes to rifle scopes. And apparently politicaly correct marketing isnt their strength either. 😀 Even tho thats actually appealing to me, rather then opposite, but its product quality what matters in the end. Be it rifle or camera..


Well, my hobbies include shooting, hunting, birding and photography. My hunting is mostly varmints around my farm and small game for the stew pot. I find Nikon’s advertising rather archaic, as if the hunting of the few remaining large predators on the planet were still an important market. This is understandable considering their market though, as most Americans are in complete denial of the ecological predicament of mankind, and still persist in fantasies of conquering new frontiers.

As an aside I have a Nikon riflescope and would rank it as mediocre both mechanically and optically. I much prefer sports optics from Schmidt und Bender and Swarovski. I believe these two have also used african safari images in their advertising. Advertising is all about selling fantasies after all.

I am not sure is licensed big game hunting is a net plus or minus for African wildlife.


Yes… hunting endangered species in Africa is not a good thing but THIS has little to do with that. Nikon’s scope ad will not cause any uptick in the number of people going on “dangerous” game safaris.

This is just more pathetic, bed-wetting, political correctness run amok. Oh my somebody feels bad… enact a law, ban something!

Wake up!

Nikon can word their ad copy any way they choose. You have the right to be offended. Don’t buy the scopes. We don’t need any new laws to deal with offensive rifle scope ads.

PS – I love wildlife and I’m not a hunter.

Cy Cheze

Nikon can avoid problems with animal rights groups if it simply rebrands the rifle scopes for assault weapon or sniper use. That is, for weapons intended for “the most dangerous game,” rather than furry beasts. Then Nikon could count on the full backing and support of the NRA and its minions in the the US House and Senate.

As for hunting, it is all good sport if the hunter and pray are at least equitably matched: bow and arrow, or club, versus tooth and claw.


Today this concerns us ALL! Anyone who just says that it only concerns some selected groups this dead wrong.

Many of the animals which are hunted on Safaris are already vanishing from our planet. And we (mankind) needs to stop those silly games and FORBID that some who think they can afford to pay the fees for hunting such animals can continue to follow this silly and irresponsible passion!

And for us who “hunt” with cameras the other side of real hinting is even worse. I would love to hear such marketing and all product offerings behind being stopped and forbidden immediately and also African countries waking up and ban Safari hunting!


Nikon is not responsible for trophy hunting. They’re just trying to cash in.

I’m surprised at the comments, though, along the lines of “Who cares?” or “This is Africa’s business!” etc. Living creatures are constantly evolving chemical and biological defenses to threats, and we can use the results of that “research” to our own good. Many medicines and treatments (most?) are derived from research into natural subjects. Everyone has an investment iin a large gene pool.

Secondly, regarding trophy hunting, ANY harvest of endangered or threatened animals, even if it seems to be well-managed (lions are overrunning your plantation, say, in South Africa), enables illegal hunting, because humans are intelligent mammals and good at fabricating papers that say that said head on the wall was harvested legally, when it wasn’t.

Tim F 101

But are they good for hunting the most dangerous game? Not buying one until I get an answer from Nikon.


This is silly. All Marketing hype. Although “The Dark Continent” is archaic and may be offensive to some. The wording of the ad is meant to add a sense of adventure. Most of these scopes will never see Africa.


They also make binoculars and cameras, both widely used by peeping toms and terrorists.

Seriously, though, between the “first rifle scope designed for dangerous big game hunting” and the “coyote special” designed for killing coyotes, I was wondering if the whole thing was an April Fools joke … I guess I don’t understand what kind of marketing appeals to hunters.


I use Nikon gear for photography. When I bought into Nikon I did not give their other product lines any thought. If I had I would probably be shooting something else now. On the other had it is just the same “anything for a buck” that drives Western Society and it’s imitators in general. As for hunters I have never understood how killing anything other than pathogens can be fun or thrilling. I have wondered if it should be considered normal behavior.


ah ah a wwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh


dark continent? racist much? just another reason to boycott the monopolies of canikon and some things should not be allowed, people are stupid, they should not be allowed to do whatever they want. Its about doing the right thing and if we need to keep people from doing stupid things, thats what we need to do, and yea that means imposing our will….. whatever it takes 🙂

Paul Farace

Nikon made fire control optics for the Imperial Japanese Navy in WWII !!! They were intended to kill my father, my uncles, my cousins, and my neighbors and friends!!!! Yet I don’t bear them ill will as a result. The policitally correct (self absorbed) wackos need to get a life… hunting scopes are a fact of life. I don’t like hunting… so I don’t go hunting! Problem is these leftists and nanny-staters want to IMPOSE their will on EVERYONE!


Hunting a deer for food in areas where the deer population is exploding due to lack of natural predators isn’t the same as taking advantage of the few remaining resources on a continent that is being torn apart by civil unrest and the complete destruction of all their natural resources because some guy in Japan thinks a tusk will give him a three day long boner.



The lack of natural predators is because we’ve killed them all. “Wildlife in America” by Peter Mathiesen is a good place to start for North America. I can’t imagine that the history of wildlife on other continents is all the different. The original colonists in America built stockades as much or more to keep wolves out than Native Americas. Wolves were native in all of the lower 48 states, and quite common. Grizzly bears, which we think of as mountain animals, were actually most common on river bottoms in the plains.

Of course, any attempt to introduce a handful of wolves somewhere in a park in the U.S. is met by violent opposition by the same people who are “needed” to control deer. Not that that was your point. Cheers.


So did Zeiss.


leave it to a canonite to find problems with any nikon equipment.


wait till the hood discovers that people scopes can dramatically increase the one shot one kill rate when used with the typical urban warfare handgun. hey less suffering for the target and fewer wounded bystanders.

coming soon for glock, sig, ruger, s&w, and other fine semiauto pistols.
lasers just give your position away.


I’m sure the NRA is heading out all the low income areas with mostly minority populations right now and selling cheap guns equipped with scopes right now as part of their “reduce crime” initiative. “Because if they can’t see you, you can defend yourself from the safety of your concealed location.” I’m actually all for gun rights, but could the NRA be any more in the pocket of the gun makers? I need a machine gun capable of firing 100 bullets per second with a 1000 round clip to protect myself! No wait, a laser gun that can slice humans in half instantly and a battery pack that will let it operate continuously for days…..because the mental health system will spot all the crazy people and put them away, which means I must not be crazy because I’m still free!


As soon as I hear someone throwing around the term “clip” I know they’re an idiot.


Yes, I know, there is a huge difference. One carries bullets within an enclosure and one doesn’t. I prostrate myself before you and beg your forgiveness. I guess if I don’t proof read every comment for terminology errors I should be strung up and caned. Whenever people use an error in such an inconsequential thing as a quick comment to instantly judge someone an “idiot” I know I’m dealing with someone who will grasp at even the tiniest straw to win their extremely weak argument. I have nothing against guns, but people who treat them like they are worthy of our worship and placed on a higher plane of spiritual existence don’t understand what the word balance means. Balance in all things. Nothing is beyond the need for balance. My father and the guys at the range would laugh at me for mixing up “magazine” and “clip” but at least they know it’s because so many people use it incorrectly that it has a way of slipping into your subconscious. They know better than to call me an idiot


I thought Nikon was a camera manufacturer, I didn’t realise they were in to assisting the slaughtering of potential photographic subjects. If someone thinks of him/herself as hunter, yet hides a long distance away and uses high power weaponry in order to kill another living being, that is nothing to be proud of. I see that as plain cowardice. No different to hiding in a building and shooting children playing in the street. If he/she were truely as brave as they think then he/she would not use weapons at all. So, Nikon, why not use your photographic expertise for what it is best at. Building high quality photographic tools. I’d rather see a photo of an animal, that you’ve got up close to, on your wall rather than the head of an animal that you’ve killed from miles away. Now I’ll just sit back and wait for all the red neck abuse to come my way. 😉


Too long; didn’t read.


rallyfan — Too ignorant; go back to school.

Tim F 101

Speaking as someone who got married in enzed and does not disagree about any of the macho stuff, I think it is a little hasty to lump hunters together. A lot of Americans who live outside the city would have a much tighter food budget if they could not shoot deer. Heck, suburbanites with gardens wish that deer season lasted year round. We have a bit of an epidemic here. It is especially bad out east where you only see big predators in a zoo. Shooting a deer gets the job done faster than hitting them with your shoe.


People who generalize are boring at best …


Awful, biased reportage! Leave Nikon, gun owners and hunters alone.


Dpreview hitting an all new low….there is ton of interesting photography story from new cheap lighting system to all sort of aftermarket products. Just read lightingurmors or endless other sites that have propped up because dpreview focusing on useless info instead of interesting stuff


Please read your copy more carefully as well:
“The Independent cites research by Scientific American magazine research that suggest the practice has halved the population of lions in Africa over 30 years.”

The Independent does NOT claim this.
This is from the Independent article:
“According to Scientific American magazine, trophy hunters have played a part in the halving of lion population in Africa over the past 30 years.”

Please correct your article. It is misleading and just gets people worked up over the wrong reasons. If the Independent would care to cite which SA article it is, one can find out exactly how much a part that trophy hunting has contributed to the halving of lion populations over the last 30 years. It could be 10%, it could be 90% of the contribution, but the Independent makes it sound like a significant part, but your interpretation makes it 100%.

Barney Britton

Quite right, sloppy wording on my part – now fixed. Thanks for pointing that out.


“Using satellite imaging technology, researchers said they found strong evidence of correlation between the population decline and a dramatic 75 percent loss of habitable savannah land during approximately the same time period.”

I don’t think Nikon scopes are responsible for the loss of habitat.


Yes, we should concentrate on getting animal populations up by restoring their environment and then worry about them all being hunted to extinction when there is a large enough population to bother worrying about.
In fact, instead of just going game hunting in Africa why not slash and burn some trees, participate in some of the ongoing genocide there, and get AIDS. All the “dark continent” has to offer at one low price!

Todd Ka

There is not story here.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Nikon making scopes. There is nothing controversial about hunting. Nor is their anything wrong with the “the Dark Continent” phrase, it evokes feeling of historical excitement and mystery.

That’s the problem with the internet, some group of panty waists throws a fit and publishes a “report”, and instead of being ignored for being annoying fools, they are featured on the front page of every news site trying to get clicks.


Dangerous game: an animal with the ability to kill pretty much any animal it comes into contact with by virtue of its natural strength and offensive adaptations. Sport hunter: a human being with the combined technological superiority of hundreds of years of human learning who points a weapon capable of firing a projectile thousands of feet at a velocity greater than the speed of sound with the sole intent of taking that animal’s life for fun (fun being the main goal of sport). A hunter kills for food, and people who hunt big game in African so they can put a stuffed animal in the study of their mansion should be forced to live forever in the world they create. It’s not sport if you can’t lose. When somebody puts on a pair of jeans, long sleeved shirt, and then takes a knife out into the jungle to kill an animal — then it’s sport.


do these work on people too?


Like it or not, hunters have become an important part of conservation in many environments. But I don’t believe this is the case in Africa. I think African animals would keep their own populations in check naturally without any “big game” hunting at all. Promoting this kind of hunting is troubling but money talks and Nikon scopes are high-end products with hefty price tags. The real issue here is how the marketeers are promoting this product. Change the wording and this goes away.

Island Golfer

The key here is…”Nikon has manufactured ‘sports optics’ for many years, and is not alone (so does Leica, Pentax and Carl Zeiss, for example)”. Does it really matter “who” makes these things? Hunters will use them, anyway. They may as well use one that will provide them with the most accurate kill with the least amount of suffering from an errant wound-shot.


LOL Moral relativism in the context of a free-market economic system is the same justification that can be used to support legalization of contract killing of humans. If we were in a truly free market everything, even human life, would have a sticker price.
But you’re right, big game on the “dark continent” (what is this, Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”? “Apocolypse Now”? I love the smell of napalm and exploding white tiger skulls in the morning!) shouldn’t have to suffer as it slowly becomes extinct.


No! They must used sharpened sticks! Only that is civilized! And there is only one right way for the entire world!


You’re right, there is no civilized way to completely destroy, defile, poison, murder, and consume every resource on the face of the planet until we’re forced to start colonies on other worlds where stories of life forms other than humans will be the only remnants of a planet that was teaming with life up until the fairly recent emergence of a species that was smart enough to destroy the world but not wise enough not to. Our children don’t inherit the Earth from us, we borrow it from them. And if you’re borrowing a CD from someone it’s considered common courtesy not to drop it on the ground, kick it through the gravel, and take a huge turd on it before returning it to its rightful owner…..but the Earth isn’t even given that kind of respect.


Such a silly, extremist view. Protesting a scope, now I’ve seen it all.


That “Dark Continent” bit deserves a boot in the ass to whoever proofread/approved the copy. But protesting the scopes’ use…that’s pretty dense. And pointless.

Adrian Joseph Roy

Well, no. They’re protesting the manufacture of products that are only used for the wholesale slaughter of animals. This is not a military scope, and it’s not marketed as one. Let’s get real, this scope will be used to hunt and kill elephants, rhinos, big cats, even primates.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a V8 engine as much as the next guy. I think there’s a lot of vacillating that goes on when people protest one thing, but not another. But, in this particular case, I agree with them. Can’t we get over this need to kill things because they are big, beautiful, and rare?

EDIT: My comment about the V8 engine was my attempt to be honest that I am not some staunch environmentalist that always sorts his garbage and eats vegan.


Can’t we get over this whining about sh!t on other continents? Unless you live in Africa, in which case, please, enlighten us with your insider’s perspective.


The great and horrible part of technology on this planet is that it means when some of us choose to completely destroy something we all have to pay the price….mainly because we can quite literally completely destroy everything if we want to. Whether it’s the slow poisoning of our world or a nuclear holocaust raining down on us from above, humans are the first living organism on this planet who can actively decide to annihilate itself and others. I take that back, the cockroaches will probably survive as well as organisms miles below the surface of the ocean….unless we do all the poisoning before the nuclear destruction, that is.

Adrian Joseph Roy

“Can’t we get over this whining about sh!t on other continents?”

This is nonsensical. Who cares where you live? I think it’s wrong to kill animals for sport. And that’s the main reason why people shoot big game in Africa. There are many countries in Africa that are actively trying to curb big game hunting for many reasons. But the issue is never simple, as with most other things in life…


Nikon itself should be aware of what kind of message it is sending…since they seem to have been buffetted by the controversy surrounding Ahn Se-hong’s Korean ‘comfort women’ exhibit that they originally sponsored and then pulled.

Gun ownership itself may be controversial, but long-arm use for hunting shouldn’t be controversial. Many of the best stewards of the land are responsible hunters, although like anything else, the abuse of weapons and hunting are causing great pain and suffering around the world.

I’m pretty sure that illegal hunting may be contributing to the rate of decline of large mammals/predators in Africa, but the loss of habitat that is by far the biggest danger to these beautiful and unique animals.

Discontinuing a spotting scope from Nikon won’t change the fact that these animals will be virtually extinct within the next century. Reducing deforestation and giving them migrating room and stopping encroachment is where efforts should be focused IMO (pun intended).


Nikon: take beautiful pictures of the natural world before you rape it.


Using Nikon scopes to stalk animals before raping them = doing it wrong.

I have yet to meet a hunter who rapes their food. (Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I haven’t seen it. Yet.)


A comment from a true intellectual. What do you think the maximum sustainable human population on this planet is? One or two trillion?


It depends on how much we like eating soylent green.


I think they’d have to go into production of soylent blue and red too if our population went that high.


There is a place for these scopes, and a need. Living in rural America, it isn’t just about “the Safari”.


Just don’t buy poaching scopes then.


what the hell is a poaching scope? christ, scopes have been around well over 100 years. did nikon invent a poaching scope? lol

2nd degree

The coyote are safe. No way you’ll be able to get a good aim through the dust,debris and oil spots let alone the left focus point issues. 😉


lmao. good one!


Sounds like badahus scopes.


As well as your best ally for your hostage standoff vs. the SWAT team.
Yes, guns and scopes don’t do bad deeds, they just make them easy for the average Joe.


The internet doesn’t say stupid things, it just make it easy for the average Joe.


Think Nikon for all your poaching needs!

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