Where will we hunt in ten years’time?
While you enjoyed being close to nature during your last hunting expedition, did you for one moment think this may not be possible in the near future? My guess is you did not. Most of us are totally unaware of the rapid rate at which development and unsustainable use are transforming the remaining extensive wildlife areas in South Africa and with that the reduction of hunting opportunities. It is very easy to forget about investing in our future while we are still blessed with the gifts of nature.
Extensive wildlife areas do not only sustain responsible hunting, but also provide ecosystem services such as water, climate and disease control, nutrient cycling and crop pollination, as well as spiritual and recreational benefits, including eco-tourism.
Whilst it is a constitutional right to have our wildlife heritage protected, we have to acknowledge that many people in the country are faced with poverty and unemployment. Government has a responsibility to address these people’s needs. In the process, competition for land is increasing and the pressure on the remaining natural areas has never been as high as it is now. As a developing country, we urgently need solutions to address these economic and social pressures, whilst securing wildlife areas not only for us, but also for our children.
Research by the South African National Biodiversity Institute has shown that at the current rate of landuse change, three of our provinces might not have any extensive wildlife areas left (outside of protected areas) by 2050. That might happen in KwaZulu-Natal in less than 20 years. This places a responsibility on the SAHGCA (SA Hunters) to identify the problems or risks that can worsen this trend. Risks include disinvestment in extensive game ranching and moving to intensive breeding of wildlife in agricultural type production systems. We thus have to act quickly to ensure the future existence of extensive wildlife systems.
BIODIVERSITY ECONOMY NODES
With both conservation and responsible wildlife use as objectives, SA Hunters partnered with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in developing an innovative strategy to address these challenges. The strategy entails the establishment of Biodiversity Economy Nodes (BENs) that act as strategic vehicles to achieve economic, social and environmental objectives through an integrated landuse planning process.
BENs utilise the economic development potential of our wildlife and cultural heritage, to create vibrant wildlife-based economic development nodes in rural dry-land ecosystems, where other land uses may be viable. Core conservation areas will be linked with other wildlife areas under man-