Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT -

Tro­phy hunt­ing is big busi­ness for South Africa. For­eign tro­phy hunters spent R1.24bn in the coun­try in 2012, ac­cord­ing to new re­search car­ried out at North­West Univer­sity.

The Pro­fes­sional Hunters’ As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (PHASA), which fa­cil­i­tated the re­search into the spend­ing of tro­phy hunters in the 2012 sea­son, said in re­sponse that “it just goes to show that for­eign hunters are an im­por­tant com­po­nent of South Africa’s over­all in­ter­na­tional tourist mix”.

The univer­sity’s re­search was based on feed­back from lo­cal pro­fes­sional out­fit­ters’ (the only people al­lowed to mar­ket hunts in­ter­na­tion­ally in or­der to bring for­eign hunt­ing tourists to SA) clients, most of whom (88%) were from the US. Re­spon­dents stayed at their hunt­ing des­ti­na­tion for an aver­age of 10 nights, with an aver­age three additional nights ded­i­cated to tourist sight­see­ing; Lim­popo proved to be the most pop­u­lar hunt­ing ground, fol­lowed by the East­ern Cape.

Some 9 000 tro­phy hunters come to SA each year, and there are an es­ti­mated 250 000 lo­cal hunters. The con­tri­bu­tion of lo­cal hunters to the coun­try’s GDP is es­ti­mated at R6.5bn an­nu­ally.

“It is ev­i­dent that there is noth­ing else putting as much value on wildlife as hunt­ing does,” says Her­mann Mey­eridricks, pres­i­dent of PHASA.

How­ever, the de­bate rages on re­gard­ing the pros and cons of tro­phy hunt­ing. Neigh­bour­ing coun­tries have con­trast­ing views on the mat­ter. For ex­am­ple, hunt­ing has been banned in Kenya since 1977.

The pro-hunt­ing com­mu­nity ar­gues that sus­tain­able tro­phy hunt­ing is ben­e­fi­cial to wildlife con­ser­va­tion as money from hunts goes back into con­ser­va­tion and al­lows vast tracts of land to re­main pris­tine and free from hu­man en­croach­ment. Pri­vate own­er­ship of game re­serves has also al­lowed for the cul­ti­va­tion of wildlife, with pri­vate game re­serves in SA grow­ing from four to about 10 000 in just over 50 years. Game head­count rose to 24m from only 575 000 in the same pe­riod, of which two thirds are in pri­vate own­er­ship.

De­spite be­ing hit by the re­ces­sion, the tro­phy hunt­ing mar­ket is gain­ing re­newed buoy­ancy in SA. The in­crease in de­mand can be at­trib­uted to var­i­ous fac­tors, one of which is other African coun­tries’ ban­ning of hunt­ing.

Botswana banned all forms of hunt­ing on govern­ment land in 2012 as, ac­cord­ing to Botswana Pres­i­dent Ian Khama, the is­su­ing of hunt­ing li­cences has fu­elled poach­ing in the coun­try and pre­vented the tourism in­dus­try from grow­ing sus­tain­ably and sig­nif­i­cantly. Zam­bia also banned tro­phy hunt­ing in some parts dur­ing the same year. Namibia and Tan­za­nia are now the ma­jor com­peti­tor des­ti­na­tions for SA on the con­ti­nent. Ac­cord­ing to PHASA, the ma­jor­ity of the lions that are hunted in SA are bred in cap­tiv­ity, while the as­so­ci­a­tion does

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