Two hunters at a campfire in Africa

What We Do In Africa

A few weeks ago, someone on Facebook picked together an assortment of trophy photos from African hunts, added a link to BookYourHunt.com, and posted it with caption “That’s all they do to Africa. Sad.”

Well… Hmmm… Yes. We, as in the hunting industry – hunters, outfitters, owners of game farms, professional hunters’ associations, the outdoor press – we hunt African animals. That’s what we do.

We don’t mine Africa. We don’t pollute Africa with industrial waste. We don’t build dams that destroy precious river valleys. We don’t cut down trees and sell them to China to make stuff (seriously, why is an ivory bijou a horror show but something made of African wood eco-friendly?), and, consequently, we don’t create post-logging deserts. 

We don’t drive species to extinction. Can you please cite an example of an African species that in the last 50 years suffered a critical decline in numbers due to legal organized trophy or sport hunting? Yes, it’s a dare. No, you won’t find one. Poaching, bushmeat trade, habitat loss – yes. Legal hunting – no. 

As a matter of fact, legal regulated hunting these days is more likely to save the species than to imperil it.  For example, the number of white rhino in South Africa grew from about 2,000 in 1970 to well over 18,000 today. Black rhino in South Africa and Namibia grew from 1,000 to 3,500 in just 25 years, from 1989 to 2014. Both comebacks were the result of the start of limited trophy hunting. 

In Namibia, the start of limited trophy hunting on communal lands in 1994 lead to the increase of sable antelope population from 724 to 1474, and impala from 439 to 9,374 to 2011. Hartman’s zebra, which in the early 1980s was listed as threatened with estimated numbers of less than 1,000, now numbers over 27,000. These are not isolated examples – the list of African species that recovered from critically dangerous lows to healthy populations with the help of sports and trophy hunting generated incomes is long. 

That’s what we do to Africa. 

We protect habitat. At present, the greatest threat to biodiversity is the development of agriculture – simply speaking, turning wilderness into plowlands and pastures. Trophy hunting provides an efficient (but, of course, not the only) alternative to agriculture that does not destroy wilderness. About 6 times more land is preserved in the wild state by hunting concessions than by national parks in Africa. This is why, in an open letter sent to the influential Science magazine, 132 leading ecologists confirmed that a ban on trophy hunting at this stage will lead to an irreparable habitat loss. 

Besides, we create habitat. We rewild. It’s naïve to think that South African game farms have been put up on pristine wilderness. In fact, just about every game farm in South Africa had been a pasture in the 1950s. According to some estimates, up to 20 million hectares of land in South Africa has been rewilded by game farms, returning the land to the state it was in before European colonization.

That’s what we do to Africa.

We create income. Money that hunters pay for hunting African animals benefits the African people in many ways: as direct sharing with communities through programs such as CAMPFIRE, through the jobs created by the hunting industry, and through general contribution to the countries’ economy. In Zimbabwe alone, 200,000 households receive direct contributions from the CAMPFIRE program, and 600,000 households more benefit from it indirectly. Similar programs improve the well-being of half a million people in Tanzania and 200,000 people in Namibia.

In just eight African countries with the highest developed hunting industry, it contributes over 426 million US dollars a year to the GDP. Tens of thousands of jobs are created across the continent. The significance of this income is even greater, if you consider that hunting-related jobs are created in areas where there are no other jobs. Each person working at a hunting safari supports up to 10 other people. Hunting-generated income allows local communities to stay local, and not leave for big cities in search of social security. 

That’s what we do to Africa. 

We even fight climate change. Seriously. In South Africa alone, up to 18,000 tons of game meat is marketed each year, with the figure for the whole Africa estimated at 300,000 tons. This does not include venison from trophy-hunted animals, which is 100% utilized, and the meat harvested during “meat hunts”. All this meat is free range, organic, free of hormones and other additives, and has minimal carbon footprint, as it doesn’t come from industrialized farms. If you ban hunting, South African will have to eat a proportional amount of beef and other industrial meats instead (no, they won’t turn vegan. They can’t afford the medications that make vegan diet OK for your health). Whether cows’ farts really promote global warming or not, the hunting industry does everything to reduce the numbers of cattle and increase the numbers of antelopes and other creatures whose farts are apparently safe.  In addition, hunting concessions replace treeless pastures with bush, increasing the numbers of CO2-trapping trees and plants. 

That’s what we do in Africa. 

Why do you call it “sad”? 

 

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