No matter who you are on social media, both hunter and non-hunter alike, we have had our news feeds inundated with the issue of African Trophy Hunting. A subject that due to intense emotion often leaves little fact out on the table, yet gets plenty of fuel from public opinion. A perfect example was the Kendall Jones “scandal” started by Cosmopolitan Magazine. They not only misreported that she killed a rhino (she actually tranquilized the animal for veterinarians to administer medical aid), but their initial “fact check” also missed the fact that tigers do not reside in Africa.
This lack of education on the subject of conservation, and on the impact of hunting on conservation, continue to spiral out of control. After reading a report from The African Wildlife Conservation Fund about the sustainability of African wildlife, we found it necessary to present some cold hard facts about how hunting is saving the wildlife of Africa.
Photography Vs. Hunting
Ecotourism, as “photography” is called in Africa, is not actually having a positive impact on local economies or habitats. It is estimated that in some places only 7% of the money brought in from ecotourism actually stays in the country.* That’s not even close to the hunting revenue, which is as high as 75% staying in the country and particularly in more remote areas where funding is needed the most for wildlife conservation.*
There is a measurable negative environmental impact to the area through the consumption of fossil fuels, littering, and other stresses on the land from the hordes of tourists ecotourism brings in. It is estimated that hunting brings upwards of 30 times greater revenue per person when compared to ecotourism.*
Indiscriminate Revenge Killings
As if snapping a photo has not done enough already, let us bring Botswana’s lion hunting ban front and center. Annually an estimated 1.26 million dollar loss directly goes to the protection, studying, and conservation of the lion, which is not endangered.* We can thank ecotourism for not just shipping their revenue out of the country, but also lobbying to make this ban happen for greater profit and to get rid of competition on lands from hunting outfitters.
Hunting accounts for over 74% of the funding to protect wildlife in Botswana.* Not only did this hurt the financial angle associated with conservation but also it had a negative impact on lion populations. This came from a drastic increase in indiscriminate revenge killings from locals, who previously relied on controlled hunts to target nuisance animals (lionalert.org). In a single swipe, photography tourism helped damage a future for the lion in Botswana.
Anti Pouching and Politics
Ecotourism tends to bring out a lot of what we call “weekend warriors”. That reflects in photographer’s unwillingness to travel to politically unstable countries. In fact recent political instability accounted for a 75% drop in ecotourism in Zimbabwe; leaving hunters as the single largest profit center, not just for wildlife conservation in Zimbabwe, but also revenue to locals.*
While ecotourism is nowhere be found, it leaves plenty of room for poaching. Unless of course we consider the hunting revenue that pays the salary of over 500 anti-poaching game scouts to help secure the future and responsible management of endangered wildlife in Zimbabwe.* We also need to consider the estimated 150 more private anti-poaching scouts that are entirely financed by local hunting outfitters.*
Hunting preserves are not “fenced in” ranches. In Africa they stretch hundreds of miles, made of land often converted from very destructive farming into private hunting grounds. Former farmers are receiving a greater income for protecting wildlife on their land, rather than proactively destroying animals to stop crop damage.*
Studies have shown that from 1972-1992 there was an 80% increase in wildlife populations on lands converted to hunting preserves.* Hunting has also accomplished the largest creations of wildlife management areas on communal land in most cases is the only funding for wildlife conservation.
These facts show a very clear picture that hunting is most likely the only hope for the future of African Wildlife. There is certainly a level of irony in this as mass media pushes emotions of anti-trophy hunting in Africa. All we can do as hunters is continue to not just proactively participate in a sustainable eco-system, but also help some of the most powerful conservation groups on the planet. Ducks Unlimited, The National Wild Turkey Federation, Safari Club International, and many more are looking to secure the future of wildlife for our planet.
For fact check we invite you to follow the following link.
* ‘Economic and conservation significance of the trophy hunting industry in sub-Saharan Africa’ African Wildlife Conservation Fund