Michele du Plessis
The ceaseless battle continues between pro-hunting and anti-hunting advocates, those who despise the killing of animals for trophies and those that realise the beneficial impact of hunting and related activities on the South African economy and conservation efforts.
In GPS News Edition 142, an article about the newly released Born Free Report featured and, as with any controversial topic, GPS News Editor Kemp received comments that the article was one-sided and not objective. With this article, we hope to report objectively on the other side of trophy hunting and conservation.
According to Adri Kitshoff-Botha, the CEO of Wildlife Ranching South Africa, it is unfortunate if people do not realise the value of hunting as a wildlife management tool.
In the article on the released Born Free Report, the report authors stated that trophy hunting is detrimental and many species are in decline. WRSA and the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), disagrees with the statement. “On the contrary, our country’s wildlife conservation success within our unique model of private ownership and wildlife management, with hunting as a management tool, is being acknowledged worldwide and has progressed remarkably over decades,” said Adri Kitshoff-Botha. “White rhino, bontebok, Cape mountain zebra and black wildebeest are a few wildlife species which were saved from extinction, because of our country’s model, whereas wildlife populations are declining in countries where sustainable utilisation is not allowed, such as in Kenya, where hunting was banned in the mid-’70s.
The report continued to say that the local communities do not benefit from trophy hunting. The opposite seems to be true if the statistics are taken into consideration. According to Dr Johan Rabie, owner of Chimoyo Game Ranch, buffalo breeder and Game Rancher of 2009, the following statistics* were used during a presentation at the WRSA Conference, 2019:
An average of 7,600 overseas trophy hunters per year generated an amount of R 5, 4 billion (US 341m), and creates 17 865 full-time jobs. The typical trophy hunter hunts 10 animals per trip and spends an average of 11, 67 nights in South Africa, while 70% extends their stay for an average of 2 to 3 nights. Moreover, 73% do not travel alone; an average of 2 companions of whom 1, 44 also hunts.
The supply of game meat to butcheries, supermarkets and such also contributes to the hunting income per year. According to Dr Johan Rabie, 200 000 biltong hunters in 2015 spent an average of R3795 on accommodation, R19 454 on animals hunted, R1 170 on day fees. This provided an average of R 24 419 per hunter per hunt. The market size: R 8, 55 Billion in 2015, denoting a 35% growth from the R6, 3 billion of 2013. An average of 8 animals hunted comprises of springbok (21%), impala (17%), warthog and blesbok (12% each) and kudu (8%). A total of 5061 game farms averaged an income of R 1 689 389.
It is a fact that breeding or managing animals to enhance trophy size is commonplace. For instance, the popularity of colour variants such as the golden wildebeest and black impala skyrocketed in 2000. Unfortunately, just 14 years later, the prices dropped precipitously. Adri pointed out that game breeding plays an important role to restore some traits such as horn lengths, which were lost over the past two centuries for various reasons. As in all economies, the economic principle of supply and demand is also applicable to wildlife.