Animal welfare charity Viva! has called on consumers to boycott Nikon products and has launched a petition that has so far won support from more than 500 people.
Stefano Unterthiner, an award-winning wildlife photographer, told the charity: ‘I have used Nikon since I was a young boy, fascinated by nature and wildlife.
‘I always saw Nikon as a company close to nature but I was wrong.
‘I do not understand and cannot agree with their support for trophy hunting which sends out entirely the wrong message to global photographers who love nature. Wildlife needs protecting now more than ever. I urge the company to end its support for trophy hunting.’
The charity’s campaign manager Justin Kerswell accused Nikon of ‘unforgiveable hypocrisy’.
He added: ‘I’m sure British wildlife lovers and photographers will be horrified to discover that Nikon produces equipment not only designed to take beautiful pictures of wild animals, but to help kill them too.’
At the time of writing, Nikon UK told Amateur Photographer that it was waiting for Nikon Europe and Nikon Japan to respond to media requests for comment.
The charity’s petition carries the emotive tagline, ‘Never A Nikon While They Make Blood Money from Hunting’.
Nikon says its Monarch riflescopes feature an optical system designed to ‘give shooters increased versatility and superlative performance with virtually any type of rifle, in any calibre and in any imaginable hunting situation’.
A riflescope called the Monarch African has sparked particular concern.
In an online store run by Nikon USA, the company says of the Monarch African (pictured below): ‘Africa has long been a continent of dreams and for hunters around the world. For those seeking their dangerous game adventure on the Dark Continent, Nikon has a new riflescope series that is more than ready for the hunt. With ultra wide field of view, four time (sic) magnification zoom and generous eye relief, the Monarch African gives you everything you need in a dangerous game riflescope.’