Why Professional Hunting Will Save Africa’s Wildlife
One of the best things to happen to the game animals of Africa is professional hunting. This may seem like a contradiction, so let me explain. First, let’s start out by explaining the differences between the American system of game management and the South African system of game management. In America, game is owned by the state and therefore controlled by the state. In South Africa, the management of the game has been transferred from the state to private citizens. Each landowner actually owns the game animals on his property. Therefore, they are his to sell to a hunter. South Africa has found that the private landowner has been able to manage the game much better than the state. By allowing the game to be owned by the landowners they now have an incentive to keep the animals on their property. They do this by creating an environment which is healthy and attractive for the animals.
Let me explain it with this example:
A landowner has a large amount of land and he is a cattle rancher. His property can only sustain so many animals. So he will try to shoot off or chase off any animals that are competing with his cattle. In addition, he will trap, poison, or shoot any predators on sight. However, if you tell the same rancher that he now owns the wild animals on his property and he can sell the game animals, his attitude towards those animals will be totally different. His liabilities have just become assets. The rancher now will do all he can to attract game and keep it on his property. He will also manage those animals so that he has an income for the future.
Under the old system South Africa was losing over 1 million game animals per year. Under the new system South Africa is now increasing the game animal population by over 3 million animals per year. As the saying goes, whether it’s popular or not, “If it pays it stays.” This system gives the animals value and that value is based on professional hunting.
Other types of safaris including photo safaris are helpful, but they do not put as much money into the system. In addition, photo safaris are far more intrusive to the daily activities of the animals. The animals are far more disturbed by vans full of photographers following them while they try to stalk, hunt, kill, mate, and suckle their young. In contrast, the trophy hunter sneaks in undetected, picks out the herd ram or dominant male, and removes him from the herd. In general that male probably has only two or three more years of value to the herd in terms of repopulation. As soon as he is removed from the herd, he will be replaced by one of several males waiting to fill his position. The trophy fee for this animal protects the future of the whole herd.
The foundation of the entire system is professional hunting, for that is the vehicle which contributes the most money. This money (the trophy fees) creates the value for the animal. It is that value that will secure the future of the game animals in Africa. It may not be a popular view, but the reality is that the only hope for the survival of the animals of Africa is professional hunting.