Study: Trophy Hunting Ban Would Exacerbate Biodiversity Loss in South Africa

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A new study published last month found that a trophy hunting ban in South Africa could significantly exacerbate biodiversity loss in the country.

Researchers from Rhodes University in South Africa conducted interviews with landowners currently operating trophy hunting businesses. A majority (91%) of landowners reported that the economic viability of their private land and the biodiversity on it would be lost following a hunting ban.

“Advocacy groups promoting and pressuring policymakers to end all trophy hunting (as well as use and trade of wildlife) need to consider the potential ramifications of such bans. If an end to trophy hunting is the ultimate goal because of its moral unacceptability, the impact on conservation and community livelihoods that depend on hunting needs to be accounted for,” researchers say.

“If conservation is indeed an important goal of those calling for an end to trophy hunting, alternative revenue streams and transition plans need to be developed for landholders and communities where hunting is a key source of income. This will sustain both conservation land use and livelihoods.”

The study points out that formal privately protected areas and wildlife ranches cover 14%-17% of the country’s land area – double that of the state-owned protected areas. But two-thirds of the private landowners researchers interviewed said they wouldn’t be able to transition their trophy hunting businesses to another tourism-based venture like eco-tourism.

SEE ALSO: Namibian Government Launches Campaign to Combat Trophy Hunting Bans

Of those landowners, half said they would transition back to livestock farming, retrench some staff and remove wildlife from their properties. The other half felt that they would have no viable alternative.

These changes could lead to a significant reduction in biodiversity in the country because landowners who run wildlife ranches play a huge role in species conservation.

Critics of trophy hunting claim that hunting operations could simply transition to photographic tourism. But a study done in Zimbabwe 12 years ago showed that trophy hunting was more resilient than photographic tourism because hunters are more willing to travel under riskier circumstances than photographic tourists.

According to the study from Rhodes University, these results show that hunters will be much more likely to revive the tourism economies decimated by the COVID-19 crisis. Hunters will be willing to travel sooner than other types of tourists, despite the risks from the virus.

Other African countries agree on the importance of the trophy hunting industry. In March of this year, the Namibian government launched a campaign to combat activists pushing for a trophy hunting ban in the country.  

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Archie Bennett July 9, 2020, 6:52 pm

    Here are the problems with the OP’s thought process:

    1. With a name like Stand Up Now, I have to question if he is really a hunter as stated and not an anti-hunter.
    2. He makes some blanket sized statements, that generalize his (obviously limited) view of hunting.
    3. Not all trophy hunters are ultra-rich egocentrics.
    – Most trophy hunters can’t afford a trip to Africa for exotic game, but do it in many other more affordable ways.
    – If they do pony up for the African hunt, they treat it as a once in a lifetime trip and expect that sort of treatment.
    – My (or the OP’s) opinion of the personalities of a hunter has no bearing on the financial impact they make.
    4. Photographers and tree huggers are not interested in spending the money hunters are.
    5. Money is important, even if that seems distasteful to you. Money is the motivator to create habitat suitable for exotic animals.
    6. IF the landowners go back to farming, their first order of business would be to ERADICATE the predators that want to eat them while they are carrying out their daily tasks.
    7. The second order of business for them is they will ERADICATE the freeloaders who eat their crops and/or trample them in order to survive – farming and elephants don’t work well together.
    8. It is not in hunting’s best interest to ever make a statement that starts with “there is something fundamentally wrong with a {hunter} who would”
    9. Where is the motivation for the landowner to “find an alternate, albeit less lucrative, use for their property”? I would guess that the OP has never told his boss: “I think I make too much money – please give me a cut in pay.” I don’t know a single farmer here in the state of Wisconsin that would rather raise dandelions because they pay less than corn or wheat.
    10. My suspicion is that running a high-dollar exotic game ranch is not an easy job, either, but if I have to work hard, I prefer to make more money rather than less money doing it.

    If we hunters are forcibly removed from contributing to the support of these exotic animals you will have no one caring for them and they will go extinct. These tree huggers had better start raising some money and doing some preparation for this paradigm shift, or there will be a bloodbath of starvation and slaughter when they get their way and fail to understand the repercussions of their ill informed behavior.

  • Stan d. Upnow July 8, 2020, 10:12 am

    Just for the record, I have been a hunter myself. I, along with many other seasoned hunters I’ve spoken to, are adamantly opposed to trophy hunting. I believe it violates not only ethical values, but the very reason hunting exists,
    and has existed since prehistoric times, that being to provide food & clothing(not important today, as it was).

    There’s something fundamentally wrong with a person who would kill a magnificent animal for “sport.”
    I have personally known trophy hunters, who, down to the last one, were millionaires with huge egos and an attitude of superiority & dominance that spawned a “take whatever I want” approach to life. Contrast that with ethical hunters who carry the attitude that says, “Don’t shoot it if you won’t eat it.”

    What did these landowners do before they discovered they could make a fortune pandering to rich clients on canned hunts for head mounts? Half said they were farmers, that is until they got onto the lucrative “blood money” game. The others obviously had no background until they started an operation to pander to the same group of clients.
    Of course they’re going to fight the ban, ranch owners and corrupt African governments. It’s all about the Money!
    Look at how much a hunting package costs. It can run into many thousands of dollars; well above what the average person can afford.
    These landowners can find an alternate, albeit less lucrative, use for their property. Gee, they might actually have to do some work other than preparing gourmet meals for spoiled, rich, indulgent clients. Imagine that.

    • S.H. Blannelberry July 8, 2020, 11:05 am

      Yeah, only problem is what happens to the animals when they’re no longer a commercially viable resource? I’ll answer for ya. They go extinct.

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