Where International Hunters Go Despite COVID-19 Travel Bans
By Emmanuel Koro
Johannesburg, 16 February 2021
John J. Jackson III, Founder and President of USA-based Conservation Force
South African cameraman with many years’ experience of filming foreign hunters in Africa, Mr Guy le Roux.
It’s perhaps Africa’s most unique country where the adrenaline seeking international hunters,
worldwide are going to hunt despite the COVID-19 pandemic travel bans.
They go there not only for the rare hunting experience but crucially to pay hunting fees that
benefit both conservation and rural communities co-existing with wildlife.
With all other African countries having suspended international hunting because of COVID-
19 travel bans, foreign hunters from different parts of the world are still going to hunt in
Tanzania offers some of the greatest dangerous game hunting safaris in Africa today. Since
Kenya was closed to hunting in 1979, Tanzania has evolved into one of the most attractive
big game hunting destination in all of Africa.
The Tanzanian president John Magufuli was recently quoted saying that citizens of that
country should avoid COVID-19 vaccines and the country doesn’t need a lockdown because
God will protect his people.
“You know it was such a strange feeling because while the rest of Africa has closed off
international hunting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tanzanian President opened it up
because he knows how important it is for the hunting communities,” said a South African
cameraman with many years’ experience of filming foreign hunters in Africa, Mr Guy le Roux.
“In November 2020 I went to film the activities of an American hunter who hunted an
elephant and other types of wildlife in Tanzania. I know that when the hunting season starts
in June/July 2021 there is no question that they will be open again.”
Mr le Roux said that Tanzania “has always been popular with hunters and it’s still a paradise
to hunt in.”
A quick online check confirms that Tanzanian hunting safari companies have advertised
hunting of all types of wildlife except the rhino, for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 hunting
Elephant hunting trophy exports from Tanzania into the USA are still banned by the USA
Government. However, this didn’t stop the American hunter filmed by Mr le Roux, from
having his elephant hunt experience of a lifetime in Tanzania. Although he left the elephant
trophy in Tanzania, he took with him the memories captured in a professionally packaged
Meanwhile, Mr le Roux said that the banning of elephant hunting trophies exports from
Tanzania into the USA which is one of Africa and Tanzania’s biggest hunting markets “is a
problem” because the elephant trophy fetches one of the biggest hunting incomes, ranging
from US$60 000 – US$120 000, depending on trophy size and the number of hunting days.
“So taking away such big amounts of elephant hunting money from the community means
less money for rural development and also less business for the local safari hunting
companies,” said Mr le Roux.
The Deputy Commissioner Tourism and Business Services for Tanzania Wildlife Management
Authority, Mr Imani R. Nkuwi said in a recent interview that the ban on Tanzania elephant
trophy hunting exports into the USA had forced local hunting companies to “surrender” their
hunting areas, leaving wildlife and its habitat unprotected.
“The ban triggered livestock grazing and agricultural activities on abandoned hunting
blocks[areas], resulting in poaching and wildlife habitat shrinkage.”
Meanwhile, Mr le Roux said that in areas where hunting is still taking place in Tanzania, the
revenue was being used to provide for the needs of Tanzanian rural communities co-existing
with wildlife and settled right next to hunting areas.
“If these communities don’t benefit from hunting there is an immediate risk that they would
then invade wilderness areas that provide habitat for wildlife and turn it into agricultural
production land,” he warned. “Such a development would threaten wildlife with extinction
as its wilderness habitat gets progressively destroyed by agricultural activities.”
Elsewhere, Mr John J. Jackson, III; the Founder and President of the USA-based Conservation
Force observed in his August 2019 research paper on Community Benefits from Tourist Safari
Hunting, “WMAs [Wildlife Management Areas] represent the best hope for conserving
wildlife outside of Tanzanian protected areas while enhancing rural economic development.
“ Safari hunting provides a valuable source of revenue for WMAs, especially in areas that are
less attractive for photographic tourism. Having an abundance of animals to hunt is a direct
benefit of conserving wildlife resources.
"The more wild animals the WMA manages and conserves, the more revenue it can generate.
These are very tangible benefits and linkages that can be easily understood at the community
level and are good incentives to reduce poaching and retaliatory killings of animals such as
Mr le Roux said that “there is a lot of poverty in rural Tanzania and where wildlife hunting is
still taking place, it helps” address some of the people’s needs such as meat that is needed to
boost their protein base.
“Hunting revenue is also being used to provide the needs for local schools and for general
community socioeconomic development,” he said.
Mr le Roux noted that hunting benefits are being felt in all sectors of African countries
involved with hunting.
For example, the residents of Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls City who are employed by hunting
companies as trackers, drivers, cooks, professional hunters and accountants are impressively
benefiting from hunting.
“Most of the people who stay in the Victoria Falls suburban houses are directly employed by
safari hunting companies and some are employed by companies that directly benefit from
the hunting business value-chain, including restaurants such as the Boma that is a very
popular game-meat-eating outlet,” said a Victoria Falls-based Executive Director for Mosi
Advocates on Social, Environmental and Conservation Trust, Mr Evans Irvine Makoni. “Some
of the bank managers and top government officials can hardly afford the houses whose stands
were sold for US$22 000, but employees of hunting companies who include professional
hunters, trackers, guides, drivers and chefs can."
Mr le Roux said that the hunting benefits start from the time one boards a plane to come to
Africa, hires a taxi, sleeps in a hotel, eats in restaurants, hotels, makes transactions in the
banks and bureau de changes, hires a car, buys food, clothes, souvenirs in different curio
shops and roadside markets, hires taxidermists who make the hunting trophies, and when
he/she ships her trophies back home.
“The hunting benefits can also be traced in car parking lots where tips are given to local people
for guarding and washing cars,” said Mr le Roux.