African Wildlife Can Survive Without Hunting - But Not Without Money!
by Dr Rolf Baldus
Dr. Rolf Baldus presented a paper with this title during the international conference “Can African Wildlife Survive Without Hunting?”. in Pretoria on April 4th, 2003. The conference was organized by Jan van der Walt of Game & Hunt, an independent monthly publication promoting the sustainable utilization of South Africa’s natural resources. For details about subscription browse their website www.wildlifehunt.co.za or contact Jan van der Walt at email@example.com.
“Can African Wildlife Survive without Hunting?” … is a question discussed at many campfires and conference tables. Most hunters would answer with a clear “Of course, African wildlife cannot survive without hunting”. South Africa is a wonderful example for proving this point. 5.000 exempt game ranches have brought wildlife back to places where it has not been for a very long time. And the motivation for many, if not most of these ranch owners, is hunting. Wildlife species that were nearly extinct, like the white rhino or the bontebok, are abundant again - to a great extent because they are hunted. As soon as Tanzanian officials were allowed by their Government to visit your country, 1993, I took the Director of Wildlife and the Chief Warden of the world’s largest game reserve, the Selous, down to South Africa to visit Pilanesberg - formerly degraded land without ecological value, now a National Park plus hunting reserve. To us this seemed to be an impressive example where the whole range of uses was presented on a relatively small stretch of land – wilderness, simple campsites, luxury hotels and hunting. Different types of use complementing each other.
If South Africa would impose a hunting ban, as some African countries have, a great share of this wildlife would disappear in the near future.
However, the majority of mankind is of different opinion. For them African wildlife cannot survive with hunting. If we analyse the many newspaper articles, TV programs and scientific and semi-scientific and unscientific papers appearing on this topic, it will prove my point. If you participate in one of the huge international conferences where issues which touch you all, which make you earn money or lose money, are being decided – like whether South Africa is allowed to sell its ivory, export its rhino trophies or increase its leopard quota - you will have to come up with very good arguments to make your point, namely that hunting can support conservation. You are up against masses of well-spoken scientists and of civil servants with directives from their Governments. You are up against animal welfare pressure groups, which spend every year millions of dollars to advertise their anti-use views.
You would be astonished, to know how many Government institutions in the European Union study at length the ways and practices of hunting in Africa. There are conferences and round tables with representatives from different sectors of society. Books, articles and position papers are written. Bureaucrats in their dozens shed their sweat in order to look into a wide range of issues whether it is hunting leopards with dogs, crocodile quotas, lion hunting or whether country x was allowed to have a certain elephant hunted. In Germany there was a court case, which confirmed the Government’s position that the CITES authorities have the right to evaluate every individual case of importing an Appendix I trophy. It is legal to import a pair of tusks from the Tanzanian Selous, but the import of a pair of trophy tusks from the Longido area in Tanzania was refused, despite the Government of Tanzania having given CITES permission. German civil servants provided a scientific opinion that – at least in their view - the particular bull at Longido was indispensable for elephant reproduction in Amboseli in Kenya.
Depending on the respective Government some of these people might to a certain extent be prejudiced and be pro-or, more often, anti-hunting, but as a general rule most of these civil servants search for facts. They need them in order to take decisions - decisions that influence hunting enterprises in Africa a great deal. They look for answers to the question Can African wildlife survive with hunting?
They may indeed have good reasons to ask this question. Taking South Africa as an example: The barren land where Pilanesberg was founded, the farms where wildlife was introduced by game ranchers –at some time in the past there was plenty of game existing there, there were some of the biggest animal migrations the world has ever seen. Hunters exterminated this wildlife in a few decades. After Frederick Courtenay Selous had landed in Port Elizabeth in 1871 he wrote into his diary during his trip northwards: “One might look as well for game in Hyde Park”. Wildlife had become scarce in South Africa by then, not only in the Cape, but also farther north in the Boer republics. We may say that the hunters who were responsible for the extinction had different motivations and were living in different times and conditions than the hunters now. Nevertheless, for the non-hunting observer they still were hunters.
However, I do not want to write about South Africa. My personal experience is East Africa, in particular Tanzania, where I had the privilege to work with wildlife for over ten years. It still is the Africa where wildlife roams in the wilderness, and the game ranch is unknown, where it is even illegal, where the people live side by side with dangerous big game. They are not kept separate by fences. Wildlife does not have to be controlled in numbers by culling, as is necessary in fenced game ranches or parks. Wildlife contributes significantly to the economy of the country, be it in the form of photographic tourism or in the form of hunting. The country has atourist-hunting sector that in the last ten years has produced approximately 2.300 lions, 2.500 leopards, 5.000 buffaloes and 400 elephants, not to mention antelopes and other game.
With such off-takes, and for most species and most places the quotas are still sustainable, the country still seems to have quite a bit of wildlife – despite hunting or because of hunting? At the same time the country has areas with spectacular concentrations of wildlife that are not hunted at all. Two million wildebeest, zebras and antelopes and 4 000 lions roam the Serengeti National Park. The country’s highest concentration of elephants lives in the Tarangire National Park. The world’s largest buffalos (a 64-inch buffalo was killed by lions recently) occur in Lake Manyara National Park. These thriving wildlife populations are a living proof that wildlife in Africa can survive without hunting.
Therefore, I can say: Yes, wildlife can survive without hunting! In the Africa of today – characterized by overpopulation, threats of all kind to the environment, illegal wildlife uses, a growing unsustainable bush meat industry – in this. Africa of today, such no-hunting reserves are important to
This is by the way nothing new at all. A keen hunter from Germany, Hermann von Wissmann, who happened to be the Governor of German East Africa, established the first two protected areas in Africa with similar arguments. This was 1896, and he called them “hunting reserves”, which indicated that no hunting was to take place there. Even at that time people were concerned that hunting might eliminate wildlife.
If we look around in Africa between the Sahara and the Limpopo, we find hundreds of such National Parks. Some countries have put up to 10 % of their land under such strict protection. In September there will be the World Parks Congress in Durban where the World Conservation Union expects more than 2 000 participants and where many of these will demand that many more of these National Parks should be created in Africa, so that in their opinion at least some African wildlife can survive.
Take my host country, Tanzania. Just recently a major piece of a hunting reserve was cut off and added to the Katavi National Park. I am presently involved in transforming the Saadani Game Reserve along the coast into a National Park. It will be the 13th National Park of Tanzania, and more are in the pipeline.
But our look around in sub-Saharan Africa also reveals: Many of these parks are “paper parks” only. They harbour more squatters, farmers, pastoralists and poachers than wild animals. They are run by game scouts who earn the equivalent of 30 US$ a month and who are busy to make a living by turning the game which they hold in trust into bush meat and cash. They are parks that contribute to conservation statistics only.
Wildlife can survive in Africa without hunting –but only if somebody pays the bill. Cash is needed to conserve it – revenue is needed to tolerate it. It will survive only, if its value is higher than the opportunity costs that the owner of the land has to bear for his decision to have it on his land. Otherwise wildlife will disappear, as it has at many places already. It does not matter whether the landowner is an impoverished rural community or a well-to-do commercial large-scale farmer. The question is therefore: Will it be possible to provide the cash or to earn the money to satisfy the landowner without hunting?
After having worked with African wildlife for a great part of my live, my empirical answer is NO
Photographic tourism is a great money-spinner at many places. At others it is not. Many areas with wildlife are just not suitable for tourism for a multitude of reasons. Hunting is the way to earn money there. Often the so-called “consumptive” and “non-consumptive” tourism can go hand in hand. They complement each other. I do not say that hunting is the panacea for wildlife conservation in Africa. But in most places it does not work without.
Many people might not like this fact. We live, however, in a world that is governed by economics and money. There is nothing like a free lunch. Animal enthusiasts do not help the will sustain the species.
Africa’s protected areas have one thing in common nearly all are greatly under-financed. Tourism incomein most cases contributes to cost coverage of less than 30 %, and due to other priorities the necessary Government subsidies are not forthcoming; and how should they in poor countries? Whereas the minimum amount needed to run such a Park properly may be 300 US$ per sq. km. - depending on many factors -, the actual amount available may be 30 US$ or less. There are a good number of National Parks where the question is not how much tourism do they need, but how much tourism can they afford? Tourism costs them more than what it generates.
I have mentioned Katavi and Saadani National Parks in Tanzania. Katavi in the extreme west of the country has not much more than 100visitors a year. Nevertheless a good part of an adjacent well earning hunting area was cut off and added to the National Park. Fortunately in Tanzania TANAPA is earning well in four profit-generating parks, the wealthiest of which is the Kilimanjaro Mountain. From this income they can subsidise 9 loss-making parks. But this is a rare case in Africa and this may quickly change, if tourism suffers further from international instability. In Saadani, my own baby, I advised strongly against a National Park. I would have preferred a multiple-use area, managed by a private entrepreneur - something like a private Game Reserve in South Africa. Even if he had not paid the Government a single cent for the lease of the land, public budgets would have benefited. The conventional National Park system has its merits, but has also reached its limits in Africa. We have to find new solutions – multiple use, new sources of self-finance, community involvement based on less government dominance, and more private sector involvement. In a good number of countries it is, however, still a sacrilege to think along these lines. A few weeks ago I was in Benin, and I met with Djaffarou Tiomoko, the Director of Pendjari National Park and three neighbouring hunting reserves. He told me that tourism just about covers its costs. Pendjari is one of the best Parks in West Africa, but nevertheless cannot compete with Parks like Krueger. It is just not attractive enough, and it is too expensive to get there. Last year he earned five times as much with 72 hunters on 177 sq km. than with 3.800 tourists on 275 sq km.
Another example is the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, where I have worked for 6 years. In 1987 this protected area received not more than 3 US-$ per sq km. from the Government budget. Due to careful development and improved management income from photographic tourism has in- creased 15 fold over the last 15 years and hunting revenue has trebled. Nevertheless hunting accounts for 90% of all income. Of course it is also important what is being done with the revenue, whether it is used for offices, cars and per diems in the capital or reinvested into conservation. In the case of the Selous a “retention scheme” was introduced by which the reserve keeps around 50% of its income. 1987 there were 5.000 elephants poached annually, and the carcass ratio was
close to 20%. Presently less than 50 elephants die per annum due to poaching. The elephant population has more than doubled again. Without the hunting revenue the situation would look quite different.
Another issue, which I shall not further discuss in this paper, despite its importance, is the conservation of wildlife on community land. Fortunately in many countries there is still much wildlife living outside the protected areas. It is generally accepted nowadays that this wildlife will not survive, if the communities are not benefiting, if the wildlife is just a nuisance and a cost to them. Sometimes tourists with cameras are the answer, more often, however, it is sustainable use by people who carry guns. Wildlife is a renewable resource, and it can be used wisely for the benefit of poor people who share the land with the game.
Now, what is the solution then proposed by those who refuse sustainable wildlife use in such situations? Their answer is simple. Let the outside world finance it. All over Africa dozens of funds are in the making with the aim to provide “sustainable finance” for the continent’s protected areas. One of the extreme examples is the “Leakey Fund” in Kenya which tries to collect 400 million US$ from wildlife lovers and foreign Governments. At the same time Kenya has outlawed the use of hunting as a money earner for conservation and landowners for over 25 years now. During this time the coun- try has lost half of its wildlife. This is not a very good record to prove the success of a conservation strategy based on a hunting ban. The little culling for meat that is still legal on few big properties in the country should also be outlawed, declared the Kenyan Director of Wildlife in a newspaper article, which appeared on April 1st this year in Nairobi. With an endowment fund of 400 million US$ the country would indeed have solved many of the financial problems of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Practical experience of 40 years of development cooperation with Africa shows, however, that money, which is provided for free, is normally not put to optimal use, but more often it is spent inefficiently. And one question remains unanswered in such cases: Why should the taxpayers of comparatively rich countries which nevertheless do not ban hunting for economic (and other) reasons spend their hard earned money for poor countries which outlaw hunting for ideological reasons thereby not utilizing one of their most valuable resources?
The World Conservation Union has confirmed 2002 in Amman amongst others that the sustainable use of wildlife can be an important conservation tool. The IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources contains, however, also conditions, which have to be fulfilled in order that such use is really positive for nature. Other institutions have followed. I should like to mention as an example the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), which outlined rules and procedures for trophy hunting in Africa as a means to contribute to bio-diversity and not to reduce it. The International Council for Hunting and Conservation of Game (CIC) or the Sheep Specialist Group of IUCN came up with similar documents. They all are of the opinion that hunting can contribute to the conservation of wildlife and the preservation of bio-diversity provided certain conditions are met. As a casual observer of the South African wildlife scene I have the impression that this discussion has also started here. I should like to mention the new bi-monthly newsletter of the African Chapter “African Indaba” as a good example.
Unlike other parts of Africa it is not the sustainability of wildlife use that has to be questioned in this country. The more pressing issues seem to be of biodiversity and ethics. It will be a painful process to find answers, as economic interests are at stake – but the discussion cannot be further postponed.
If the wildlife producers, the game ranchers, the professional hunters, the operators and the pro-use scientists do not find the solutions themselves, others might find solutions for them.
Grosse, C. et al. (2001): Trophaeenjagd auf gefaehrdete Arten im Ausland. BfN Positionspapier, Bonn (www.bfn.de
IUCN Caprinae Specialist Group (2000): Position Statement on Trophy Hunting
Jagen im Ausland (2000) Positionspapier des Deutschen
Jagdschutz-Verbandes (DJV) und des Internationalen Jagdrates zur Erhaltung des Wildes (CIC), Deutsche Delegation, Bonn (www.jww.de/
This paper reflects the personal opinions of the author and not necessarily those of any of the organizations he works for.