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Feature: Why trophy hunting will never stop in Africa despite opposition

Opinion & Analysis
It would not stop international hunting in Africa, but would stop trophy hunting imports into Britain.

Against the background where the British parliamentarians will next month decisively debate the proposed ban on international hunting trophy imports into Britain from anywhere, including Africa, let it be known that a ban will hurt wildlife-rich rural economies of southern Africa.

However, not all the British parliamentarians will support the international hunting ban initiative driven by animal rights groups fundraising industry lobby.

They are expected to look into this issue very objectively and vote against it because well-placed sources say enough international hunting benefits have been explained to them by Sadc countries embassies in Britain.

If they impose the ban, it would forever be seen as a moment of madness vote. It would not stop international hunting in Africa, but would stop trophy hunting imports into Britain. Africa has many international hunting markets worldwide, with the United States (US) as its largest and richest market.

As along as international hunting continues to bring socio-economic and conservation benefits to Africa, nothing will stop it.

In fact, US-based hunting organisations and a few in Europe have continued to fight in favour of African hunting communities to ensure that hunting never stops on the continent.

International hunting has continued to face intense opposition from the animal rights fundraising industry since it was introduced in the early 1980s, with benefits going directly to communities co-existing with wildlife.

The socio-economic benefits that international hunting brings are life-changing and the evidence is there for all to see, including wildlife conservation. International hunting income supports the provision of  badly-needed rural infrastructure such as clinics, clean drinking water, schools and roads, including conservation projects.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the southern African hunting communities have protested the British parliamentarians’ planned debate to ban trophy hunting imports into Britain.

Ishmael Chaukura of the Masoka hunting community in Zimbabwe said: “The reason that hunting will never stop in Africa, including Zimbabwe, is because it brings a lot of benefits to communities. For example, we produced two medical doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants and technicians who attended a wildlife-revenue built Masoka School. The Masoka hunting community also used international hunting income to build schools, clinics and roads.”

 Chaukura warned that the danger of banning international hunting is that it takes away wildlife conservation incentives.

“As long as communities that co-exist with wildlife aren’t benefiting from it, then there is no reason to conserve wildlife,” he said.

The  wildlife-rich southern African wildlife producer communities have continued to enjoy international hunting socio-economic and conservation benefits since the 1980s in Zimbabwe where it was first introduced and later other parts of southern Africa also began to benefit.

Claudia Nchunga of Kavimba village in Botswana’s Chobe district can be described as an international hunting historian in her community. She recently retired from her position as the first and longest-serving administrator for the Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust that handles the multi-million-dollar hunting business in the community.

“Wildlife hunting revenue has been used to build a four-star lodge, community store and to create employment opportunities, she said.

“These life-changing benefits from wildlife are making us see the need to conserve not only wildlife, but also its habitat. Therefore, hunting is helping promote conservation and socio-economic development in our community.”

In Namibia’s Anabeb Conservancy, significant benefits from international hunting taught them a rare lesson. The wildlife sanctuary recently “told” Namibia’s Anabeb Conservancy residents to switch from using their land for cattle production to wildlife hunting.

“I remember poaching a big kudu for meat,” said chairperson of Namibia’s Anabeb Conservancy, Ovehi Kasaona.

“My friends were also poachers for meat, including my father and grandfather. My uncle even poached for rhino horn for sale. In the past when we saw wildlife, we saw meat for the pot. Now we are associating wildlife with tourism business such as lodges that we have built, using money from wildlife hunting.”

In Zambia’s South Luangwa province, international hunting mindset-changing benefits taught the local communities what family planning agents had failed to do for almost a century.

The benefits made the very traditional South Luangwa community that used to resist family planning embrace it, to avoid overpopulation that would displace wild animals from the land that they had set aside for wildlife conservation.

There is no doubt that international hunting brought to southern Africa significant socio-economic and conservation benefits. Sadly, the animal rights fundraising industry doesn’t want the Western leaders to ever know that hunting brings socio-economic and conservation benefits.

No wonder why they have kept the British parliamentarians in the dark about hunting benefits because it would make them support international hunting.

So ugly is international hunting politics that the animal rights groups fundraising industry even wants to capture African leaders and governments, to make them ban international hunting.

They tried and succeeded in Botswana where they influenced former President Ian Khama to ban international hunting without consulting the beneficiary communities.

Khama banned international hunting in Botswana in 2014, hoping that it would make him the conservation emperor of southern Africa. The ban was followed by Botswana wildlife producer communities’ protests and revenge wildlife killings. In one incident, several lions were reportedly killed.

Fortunately, when Mokgweetsi Masisi became the President of Botswana, he lifted the ban on international hunting in 2019, after consulting wildlife producer communities.

The animal rights fundraising industry non-governmental organisations (NGOs) protested the lifting of the international hunting ban. They threatened Botswana with tourist travel bans, but  Western tourists continue to “trip over one another” to see wildlife in Botswana.

Stung by the lifting of international hunting ban in Botswana, some of the animal rights groups led by one of their counterparts expelled from Botswana “hatched” a grand plan to displace international hunting from Africa and replace it with low-cost photographic tourist camps.

This happened at the June 2019 Africa Wildlife Economy Conference held in Victoria Falls. The southern African conservationists, presidents and politicians “smelt” the anti-international hunting “stench” from the conference agenda that totally ignored wildlife use, including international hunting. Therefore, they rejected the dubious low-cost community tourist lodges initiative.

Speaking at the Victoria Falls Africa Wildlife Economy Conference, Oxford University-trained associate professor of ecology and economics, Brian Child, who is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Florida in the United States, said wildlife trophy hunting and hunting for meat contributed 90% of the tourism revenue that southern Africa generated annually.

Child said in comparison, photographic tourism that includes travel tourism only contributes a distant 10% of southern Africa’s annual tourism revenue.

Hunting is an effective wildlife management that involves the harvesting of old wildlife that would almost die of natural causes and that would also be replaced by younger species without causing population decline.

According to the World Wide Fund’s 1997 Quota Setting Manual, the main purpose of a quota is to identify the number of animals that can be killed without reducing the population.

This depends on the number of animals living in the area. The rate at which these animals can be harvested is called the percentage off-take rate.

Normally, the off-take rate is fixed either equal to or slightly below the growth rate. In this way, while the growth in population size may be slowed down, the total number of animals in the population does not fall. The quota can, therefore, be considered to be sustainable.

The benefits of international hunting are being felt all over the wildlife-rich southern Africa region, including, Mozambique,  Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Why then do the NGOs in the animal rights fundraising industry continue to oppose international hunting that is bringing significant socio-economic and conservation to Africa?

The answer is that the Western animal rights groups are a fundraising industry, therefore, they are in it for money and not wildlife conservation.

lEmmanuel Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who writes independently on environmental and developmental issues.

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