After the killing of a protected Lion illegally hunted in Zimbabwe, calls have been renewed to do away with the R6-bilLion South African game hunting industry.
Game hunting was thrust into the spotlight recently following the death of “Zimbabwe’s favourite Lion”, Cecil, at the hands of an American hunter.
Cecil was killed, beheaded, and skinned after US dentist Walter Palmer shot him in what was subsequently been labelled as an illegal hunt.
Cecil, a protected Lion, was lured out of a conservation zone, and killed on the surrounding land. The hunters who accompanied Palmer, as well as the land owner, are now facing poaching charges.
The incident has renewed calls from conservation groups, both in South Africa and abroad, to end wild game hunting.
The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (Phasa) issued a statement following the incident calling for a review of Lion hunting.
Phasa president Hermann Meyeridricks said the campaign against trophy hunting has intensified around canned or captive-bred Lion hunting, with those against the practice “no longer just a small if vociferous group of animal-rights activists.”
“Broader society is no longer neutral on this question and the tide of public opinion is turning strongly against this form of hunting, however it is termed,” he said.
“Even within our own ranks, as well as in the hunting fraternity as a whole, respected voices are speaking out publicly against it.”
“Phasa has to face the fact that the Lion issue is putting at risk not only the reputation of professional hunting in South Africa, but its very survival.”
Despite the negative sentiment towards game hunting, the practice is a massive – and important – industry in South Africa.
According to a hunting indaba organised by the department of environmental affairs in 2013, the game hunting industry in South Africa brings billions into the local economy, bankrolling animal conservation.
In 2013, Phasa reported that resident hunting (including species fees and all other expenses) contributed R5.56 billion to the economy.
International hunting and taxidermy fees added another R1 billion to that total, not including other fringe incomes.
However, despite the economic benefits and conservation potential, game hunting remains a controversial topic, especially when put against the backdrop of highly-publicised poaching figures.
The cost of hunting
According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), South Africa has lost more than R1.3 billion to Rhino poaching since 2008.
Around 3,800 Rhino have been poached in the last seven years, with a plain sale value of a single living Rhino at about R350,000. Phasa values Rhino at over R550,000.
There are approximately 25,000 surviving black and white Rhino in the country – but even endangered species such as these Rhino are not exempt from hunting.
South Africa and Namibia are legally permitted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell five permits for the hunting of adult male black Rhinos each year.
In early 2014, one such permit was auctioned for $350,000 (R4.4 million), for the right to hunt a Black Rhino. The $350,000 raised allegedly went to Rhino anti-poaching efforts.
Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 (R635,000) to hunt Cecil the Lion.
And other animals, too, have high values on their heads. Here are a selection of animal prices (including tax and permit fees) for hunters looking to hunt in South Africa:
|Animal||Fee (USD)||Fee (ZAR)|
|Black Rhino||$150 000||R1.9 milLion|
|White Rhino||$50 000||R635 000|
|Elephant||$42 000||R530 000|
|Lion||$24 000||R300 000|
|Leopard||$15 000||R190 000|
|Buffalo||$14 500||R185 000|
|Roan Antelope||$12 500||R160 000|
|Lioness||$9 500||R120 000|
|Hippo||$9 400||R119 000|
|Sable Antelope||$9 000||R114 000|
|Crocodile||$7 450||R95 000|
|Giraffe||$3 800||R48 000|
The debate on trophy hunting goes on but conservationists, myself included, are opposed to it and maintain that hunting does NOT aid conservation. Much more revenue is brought into South Africa by tourists wanting to sea wildlife alive in their natural habitat.
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