International Society For Endangered Cats

A Voice For The Wild Cats of the World

Big Game Hunting In Africa

A comprehensive study ordered by World Conservation Union (IUCN) on big game hunting as a tool for conservation in Africa has been released. Read the full report here.

Excepts from Wildlife Extra News:

Today in sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 1.4 million km² are used for big game hunting, which is 22% more than all national Parks of the region.

16.5% of land creates 0.0001% of jobs

The economic results of big game hunting are low. Land used for hunting generates much smaller returns than that used for agriculture or livestock breeding. Hunting contributions to GDP and States’ national budgets are insignificant, especially when considering the size of the areas concerned. Economic returns per hectare, for the private sector and for governments are insufficient for proper management. Returns for local populations, even when managed by community projects (CBNRM) are insignificant, and cannot prompt them to change their behaviour regarding poaching and agricultural encroachment. The number of salaried jobs generated (15 000 all over Africa) is low considering that 150 million people live in the eight main big game hunting countries, and that hunting takes up 16.5% of their territory. To summarise, the hunting sector uses up a lot of space without generating corresponding socio-economic benefits.

The People 
Around 18,500 tourist hunters go big game hunting in Africa every year. Hunts are organised by approximately 1,300 organisations that employ around 3,400 guides and 15,000 local staff. On average, a hunting safari organisation will only have an average of 14.5 hunt clients per year and each guide will only take 5.5 hunters out annually.

The Places 
Big game hunting areas take up huge areas of land: for the 11 main big game hunting countries, the surface area occupied is 110 million hectares, in other words 14.9% of the total land area of these countries. In addition to these hunting areas, protected areas occupy, in these 11 countries, 68.4 million hectares, i.e. 9.4% of the national territory. The sum of the hunting areas and protected areas therefore represents 24.3% of the surface area of these countries. This leaves a proportion of the country for human habitation that is difficult to reconcile with the development of these countries, the population density of which averages 34 people per km.

Animals Killed 
Tourist hunters kill around 105 000 animals per year, including around 640 elephants, 3 800 buffalo, 600 lions and 800 leopards. Such quantities are not necessarily reasonable. It can e noted for example, that killing 600 lions out of a total population of around 25 000 (i.e. 2.4%) is not sustainable. A hunting trip usually lasts from one to three weeks, during which time each hunter kills an average of two to ten animals, depending on the country.

Low productivity of big game hunting 
On average for these 11 countries, the surface area occupied by big game parks is 14.9% of national territory, and the contribution of big game hunting to the GDP is 0.06%. This makes the economic productivity of these hectares very low. This information shows that hunting is not a good option for land use, in particular in a context where priorities are to reduce poverty and establish food security. However, big game hunting (unlike small game hunting) is essentially carried out on land exclusively reserved for that purpose.

The least productive countries per hectare are Ethiopia (hunting areas have virtually disappeared there), Burkina Faso and Benin (where hunting trips are very cheap), Cameroon (where hunting areas are under high pressure from agriculture). These are the countries where closing down of hunting could make the biggest contribution to development by freeing-up land that is not very economically productive (but what would the consequences be for conservation?). These are also the countries where it is most difficult to change local communities’ attitudes to conservation, due to the lack of any gain for them.

Read the complete summary of the IUCN report, and public comments on the findings, on the Wildlife Extra News.

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