Hunting Animal Welfare Vs Economics

In some parts of Southern Africa, areas of land are set aside for hunting, and hunters are charged 'trophy fees' to shoot animals. This is abhorrent to many people - especially in Western countries.

On the one hand it is argued that trophy or sport hunting is a form of tourism that stimulates local economies and thereby fosters 'conservation-minded' attitudes. For people who lack other resources the trophy fees are large (thousands of US dollars for animals such as elephants or lions) and an invaluable source of income. Paradoxically, the financial benefits of hunting tourism encourages the management and protection of these animals and their environment. Hunting, it is argued, provides an enticement to landowners to maintain the natural habitats that provide a home for the hunted animals.

On the other hand, killing an animal for fun is simply morally and ethically wrong to many people, and this is accentuated once the beauty, grace and intelligence of many African animals is witnessed in the wild. Can killing for fun ever be justified in a modern society? Hunters claim that killing is not the purpose of hunting; instead, it's all about outwitting and learning behavioural patterns of their prey. Then why not take a camera instead of a rifle?

It is also argued that slaughtering wildlife in order to raise conservation funds to save it is a twisted way of thinking. Further, improperly managed, trophy hunting can have seriously detrimental effects on wildlife, especially threatened and endangered species.

Although conservation organisations do not agree on policy towards hunting, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has a pragmatic attitude, stating that 'for endangered species, trophy hunting should only be considered when all other options have been explored...and that trophy hunting, where it is scientifically based and properly managed, has proven to be an effective conservation and management method in some countries and for certain species'.

In 2004, CITES lifted a ban on hunting the black rhino, once a potent symbol of endangered African animals, allowing an annual hunt quota of five each for South Africa and Namibia. Conservationists opposed to the move say that the rhino is still a target for poachers, with its horn being highly valued in Asia and the Middle East. It is claimed that hunting quotas would make it far easier to cover up the illegal trade of rhino horns from poached animals. Also, the black rhino remains critically endangered in most countries outside Southern Africa. Namibia and South Africa have pledged to spend the substantial revenues to improve conservation in their countries.

In 2006 South Africa proposed a new law that would end the practice of'canned hunting', in which wildlife bred in captivity are killed by tourists in sealed reserves. The law would make breeding predators like cheetahs, lions or leopards specifically for hunting illegal. The average price paid for canned hunting of a white rhinoceros is US$25,000.

Poaching is still a problem in countries such as Malawi and has increased dramatically in Zimbabwe since the land seizures where world-class parks and anti-poaching policies are under threat.

Many Africans believe conservation for its own sake is a luxurious Western notion that the people of Southern Africa simply cannot afford. To concede the benefits of conservation, locals need to see some of these benefits, and that's where tourism comes in. If the money earned from visitors coming to enjoy the animals and the environment stays in the pockets of locals (or in the country as a whole), then this will encourage wildlife and environmental protection.

Income is also generated by the jobs that hunting and wildlife tourism create, such as guides, game rangers, tour guides and various posts in the associated hotels, lodges and camps. Further spin-offs include the sale of crafts and curios.

For community initiatives and projects designed to combat local issues, as well as examples of ecotourism, see the Environment section in country-specific chapters.

© Lonely Planet Publications 69

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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