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Trophy Hunting – Providing Revenue and Incentives to Conserve and Protect Wild Populations and Their Habitats?

Writing about controversial subjects, providing the facts, and letting the reader come to their own conclusion.

Much of the western developed world views on trophy hunting is that its unpalatable and unethical, trophy hunting in Africa is currently under pressure to explore various policies that aim to put a halt to this activity.

However... conservation as well as the livelihoods of indigenous and local communities can both benefit from well-regulated trophy hunting programmes, providing sufficient reasons for conservation where ecotourism is not possible.

Background

Trophy hunting is the shooting of carefully selected animal for sport, pleasure or for a desired characteristic (tusks, antlers etc.) in order to displayed as trophies.

Game with larger body sizes and larger trophies are more valued. If hunting activities complies with a country’s existing hunting legislation's and the proper permits have been obtained, trophy hunting is completely legal.This should not be confused with poaching; this is and illegal pursuit of game without the proper certificates and/or permits.

The international trade in species of wild fauna and flora are regulated by CITES (Box 1) and are listed based on a system of permits and certificates. These are issued when conditions are met, permits and certificates must be presented when entering and leaving a country.

Positive Benefits

The view from The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is that if the regulations and management of trophy hunting is highly effective that there can and has been positive impacts on the local communities and conservation efforts by generating.

• Incentives for landowners to conserve and restore wildlife on their land.

• Revenue for wildlife management and conservation (including anti-poaching activities).

• Reduced effects of human-wildlife conflicts and intern reduce illegal killing.

What is the price of Conservation?

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Why blanket ban could exacerbate biodiversity loss

A blanket ban on trophy hunting could lead to worse conservation outcomes:

• Developing countries financial resources for conservation are limited, consumptive and non-consumptive uses of wildlife are necessary to generate enough funding to support conservation efforts.

• Incentives for biodiversity in areas where ecotourism is not economically viable and maintaining a good quality habitat is generally in the best interest for the hunting industry for the simple reason that the quality of individuals harvested is also at a high standard.

• Hunters are more likely to visit areas lacking in attractive scenery and requires less infrastructure, therefore minimising habitat degradation.

• Tourist hunters can generate more revenue from lower volume of tourist hunters. The trophy hunting industry relies on fewer tourists, where income that is generated per hunter is higher.

• A well-managed trophy hunting programme can generate important revenue this can allow local stakeholders to retain property rights over these species, this is necessary for them to justify offsetting the direct and opportunity costs of conservation.

How the ban on lion hunting killed the lions.

Negative Impacts

Because a trophy hunter only seeks out the most desired specimen this often takes out animals with a higher genetic breed value from the population, often too early in their life cycle, and thus did not achieve high reproductive success.

A study looking into how an evolutionary response to sport hunting of bighorn trophy rams Ovis canadensis (Fig 1), found that rams with a larger body mass significantly decreased over time.

Another Study carried out by Rodrıguez-Munoz et al (2015) shows that male-biased hunting of the Cantabrian capercaillie (Fig 2) has triggered an ongoing decline in their numbers, removing reproductive males has a significant effect on population demography, regardless of the stability of the female population.

Fig.1 Cantabrian capercaillie (top) Fig.2 Ovis canadensis (bottom)

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A survey carried out by Angula et al (2018) on 160 rural residents of Namibia that benefits in one way or another from the use of the wildlife, including trophy hunting. 91% residents stated that they are not in favour of a ban on trophy hunting and are happy to support trophy hunting due to the benefits it provides (Fig3 & Fig4).

Angula et al (2018) study suggests that a ban on trophy hunting would be viewed vary poorly by residents and would seriously weaken any support for wildlife conservation.

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Corruption

This industry is affected by corruption in Africa at multiple levels, from government scouts that overlook the overshooting of quotas, to government ministers favouring certain operators when granting concessions. Corruption is one the major problems facing trophy hunting in Africa.

Sizeable hunting quotas are provided to citizens by some African countries at greatly subsidised prices, because of this the number of high value trophies that can be sold to foreign hunters is reducing, this giving the local communities less incentives to protect wildlife.

Economic effects

Conservationists differ in their assessment of trophy hunting, particularly its economic impact and potential for contributing to conservation. Hunting campaigners stress that trophy hunting can create reasons for conservation where ecotourism is not possible.

Data derived from several sources were used to determine basic economic values for trophy hunting industry in Namibia by Humavindu (2003) for the hunting season in 2000. According to Humavindu (2003) ‘Trophy hunting in the Namibian economy: an assessment’, N$134 million (US$19.6 million) was generated in expenditures, or gross output, with 3,640 trophy hunters spending an estimated 15,450 hunter days, taking 13,310 games animals.

The government receives 21% from the trophy hunting industry in the way of fees, sales tax and company taxes. Wages and salaries of employees in the trophy hunting industry activities amount to 23%. Land rentals and resource royalties for local communities in communal land conservancies amount to 12%.

Namibia has often been presented as a success story, because of the benefits created for local communities in community based natural resource management, which had been rolled out over the country since the early 90’s. A well-managed trophy hunting programme can create a healthy amount of revenue for local communities that can be used for conservation, jobs and it can also provide meat for marginalised people.

Trophy hunting is often articulated by supporters that economic benefits such as these is crucial to the future of conservation and rural development. According to Koot, (2019) a majority of Economists state that rural communities in African countries only benefit very little from trophy hunting revenue and finds the arguments that trophy hunting plays an important role in the economic development of African communities flawed.

Without enough revenue being made from trophy hunting, funding for conservation projects would dry up and there will be no longer the incentives for local communities to maintain the local environment.

With the loss of jobs in the trophy hunting industry, people may haft to return to farming the land for crops or livestock, putting them at risk to conflicts with wildlife.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Dean Murray