Sunday, March 20, 2005

Shooting Sports: African Big Game Hunting

The LLama Butchers: Anyone Want To Hunt A Rhino? Kathy at Llama Butchers ran across an article about hunting and is amused by the tone the author, Debra A. Klein, takes - being surprised that African game can do a lot of damage to crops, to homes, and can even kill people - which happens regularly.

[Update: 3/30/2005 Debra A. Klein - said author of said article - would like you all to know that she is not shocked that African game can cause damage to crops, livestock and people. That was the impression I got from LLama Butchers, but there you go.]

Opponents of hunting often say how bad it is for the species being hunted. But if you can get past your disdain for hunting, you might see that hunting provides a lot of benefits. (Never understood this disdain - well I understand it coming from vegitarians, but not for people who eat meat. "You have to kill it, before you can grill it.")

By making the species - and the welfare of the species - into a business, greed becomes focused on saving the species and improving the numbers.
[I]t is precisely because the rarer animals do have a high value that the ranchers - and the governments which sell them the concessions and issue the hunters' licences - take great care to ensure they are conserved. As a result of such policies, which have reduced poaching and led to a revival in many species (including elephant, which were once seriously threatened), Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe have been allowed to resume controlled exports of ivory by CITES.

In Zimbabwe more than 500 of around 4,000 ranches derive all or part of their income from wildlife. Through CAMPFIRE (the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources), established in 1989, the industry has expanded rapidly. In 1989 only two rural districts applied to implement the programme, but now more than 25 are involved. The proportion of revenue going to local villagers has also steadily increased, giving them a real incentive to conserve wildlife. By 1993 four-fifths of wildlife revenues produced by CAMPFIRE was going to local communities.
Yes greed and self-interest are now focused on improving the situation for these species and it is working. Money paid by hunters goes to the hiring of game wardens to ensure that poaching is fought, and poachers prosecuted. Locals who have livestock killed by big cats, or who have crops damaged are compensated out the money brought into the country by hunters. They therefore feel no incentive to kill the beasts causing the trouble. Without compensation, they would face real hardship as a result of the wild animals and would have an incentive to kill them - to the point of extinction - which is what they did in the past.

Contrast this with states that have outlawed hunting:
Large game animals such as elephants will only survive if the value they create for those with the power to protect them exceeds the costs they impose. Since Kenya banned hunting in 1976, it has lost 85 per cent of its elephants. Property rights over wildlife should be vested with those who have the greatest incentive to protect the resource. [My emphasis, ZDeb]
With no income from hunting, there is no money to support game wardens, there is no way to stop poaching, there is no compensation to local farmers. There is in fact, no incentive to preserve the wildlife at all, and some incentive to see it gone.

Don't underestimate the income generated by hunters. A weeks hunt can be anywhere from $5000 to $15,000, or more depending on what you are hunting. (plus airfare, plus tips, plus, plus, plus.)

And don't underestimate hunters.
Ninety per cent of the income earned by the CAMPFIRE programme in Zimbabwe comes from trophy shooters. In contrast to popular myth, trophy hunters are keen conservationists who want to bag an impressive specimen, not to shoot as many as possible. As Bill Bedford of Ingwe Safaris has pointed out: "They come to us because they know we can provide the goods, but also because their money is going into supporting conservation."
Hunters are conservationists.

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