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Combined hunting sector presents value of hunting on socio-economic development at CITES COP17


The three major hunting organisations in South Africa joined forces during the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP17) in Johannesburg, to convey the positive role that responsible hunting plays in conservation, food security and socio-economic development. The CITES COP17 started in Johannesburg on 24 September and will conclude on Wednesday 5 October.


In their collaborative presentation, the Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa (CHASA), Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) and the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) demystified widespread public perception that hunting is in conflict with conservation principles.


Hunting is legal and is in line with the IUCN principle of sustainable utilisation of natural resources. It has no relation whatsoever to poaching or the illegal trafficking of wildlife. Responsible hunting is a legal activity that is an inherent part of the cultural heritage of many South Africans and that contributes substantially to conservation. Its annual contribution to the South African economy exceeds R10 billion (2015) and generates approximately 70% of the annual revenue generated by the wildlife industry.


Hunting provides an alternative, healthy protein source that contributes to food security. During the annual hunting season, game meat supplies between 15 and 25% of the total red meat consumption in South Africa, according to information provided by the South African Meat Industry Company (SAMIC.) Meat from hunting operations provides a relatively inexpensive source of protein to many rural communities. The simultaneous growth of the wildlife industry and the number of game on communal land, which is being incorporated into the wildlife sector, bring relief to poor rural communities by providing safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs.


According to Lizanne Nel, conservation manager of SA Hunters, extensive wildlife areas under private management is approximately three times bigger than the wildlife area under formal protection by government. "The private sector must have incentives to protect wildlife as hunting generates the biggest percentage (70%) of the income for this sector. Without a reliable income stream from wildlife, inclusive of hunting, that act as  incentives to manage these wildlife areas, game farmers are likely to switch to other land-use activities that might be incompatible with conservation principles and practices."


The role of hunting in securing wildlife habitats is also evident throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Research has shown that for 23 countries in Africa (Lindsey, Roulet & Romañach, 2007) hunting contributes significantly to securing wildlife areas in excess of 1,4mil km², which exceeds the area encompassed by national parks.

Research findings, including research by the Tourism Research in Economic, Environs and Society, from North-West University, (Potchefstroom, South Africa), confirm that hunting contributes significantly to the economy. Their results revealed that:


  • Consumptive hunting by local hunters contributed R8.6 billion in 2015, with a 35% growth in the period 2013-2015

  • Trophy hunting contributed R1.6 billion in 2014

  • Wildlife areas in South Africa extend over 17 million hectares, which represent 16% of the national estate and covers an area three times more than the area covered by official national parks and reserves.

  • Processed wildlife products generated R4,5 billion (2014)

  • Live animal sales on auction contributed R1.1 billion (2014)

  • Wildlife-based tourism contributed R104 billion (2014)

Stan Burger, president of PHASA, said hunting played a significant role in many rural economies where other options for economic growth might be limited. "Not all areas are suitable for eco-tourism. Hunters depend on products such as ammunition, food, clothing, and hunting gear; and services such as taxidermy, skinning, tracking and accommodation. These needs provide business opportunities that can boost the economy throughout the entire value chain. People living in rural areas also have to deal with the impact of game grazing through their crops or feeding on livestock. Benefits from hunting assist these communities to absorb these impacts," Burger said.


















CHASA CEO Stephen Palos said hunters have a close affinity with nature and actively seek opportunities to engage in conservation initiatives encompassing projects such as research, field data collection, rehabilitation and the reintroduction of wildlife at national and community level. "Responsible and balanced utilisation of natural bounty is ingrained in a hunter’s ethos with both written, and unwritten codes of conduct guiding hunting activities. Knowledge gained through experience as well as formal training is the foundation for hunting skills development."

Palos reiterated that hunting organisations in South Africa have comprehensive and well-structured training programmes that include codes of conduct that instil positive behaviour and attitudes among their members that secure the future for wildlife and hunting for all.

CITES COP17 provided a unique opportunity for the hunting sector to unite and portray the positive contribution that hunting and hunters can and do play in conservation of wildlife resources in developing countries.



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