Governance in Hunting Tourism by Dr Rolf D. Baldus Hunting Tourism: Potentials and Risks Recreational hunting, in particular by tourists, who pay for the hunt, has a great potential to contribute to conservation and promote biodiversity, especially of wildlife populations, to create income and to support rural livelihoods, often in disadvantaged areas. It can serve as a powerful incentive to maintain or increase game numbers by giving wildlife and habitat economic values as opposed to purely intrinsic ones. This enables habitats and the concomitant wildlife to compete with alternative, mostly less nature friendly types of land use. Hunting tourism is practised in 23 sub-Saharan African countries and due to bad Governance levels it is often connected to corruption. It is widely recognized that the misuse of entrusted power for private gain and illegal “rent seeking” whereby officials and the public seek illegitimate personal gain through bribery, patronage, graft and embezzlement reduce economic growth and aggravate poverty reduction. At the same time it can contribute to the overuse and destruction of natural resources, e.g. the tropical forests or wildlife. “Natural resources often have high commercial value, making them a prime target for plunder.” (World Resources Institute) However, the current state of knowledge is underdeveloped (Smith and Walpole). Empirical studies are rare. This is particularly true in the case of wildlife with the exception of some flagship species like rhinos or elephants (cf. Smith et al.) and a thorough empirical study on the Tanzanian hunting industry (Baldus and Cauldwell; Baldus 2006). Hunting tourism in the form of traditional hunting safaris has been actively practiced in Africa during colonial times and on an increased scale since independence. Yet, despite many recognized conservation effects, its long term sustainability in developing countries in Africa and transformation countries in Asia is endangered, in particular by the greed of key stakeholders, widespread graft in the administration and the professional hunting industry and generally by bad or haphazard Governance. Therefore, hunters and the outfitting and guiding enterprises need to recognize that without effective reforms the greed, graft and bad Governance endanger the sustainability and indeed the survival of the resources on which hunting is based. Practical proposals for reform and improved Governance have been developed and proposed by wildlife managers, NGOs and donors of development assistance during the past 15 years, but a variety of powerful interest groups in the wildlife administration and the hunting industry have continuously hindered or even blocked any meaningful development. It is not possible to generalize, as the quality of the management of the hunting industries varies from country to country. One can say that those industries perform best where reforms have been instituted along the following lines: 1. Effective market-based competition between safari outfitters exists, i.e. outfitters bid publicly against each other for concessions; 2. Clear laws and regulations as well as a Government Policy for Tourist Hunting exist and are implemented. 3. Transparency of Government decisions is secured through appropriate mechanisms, so that the public can monitor whether the rule of law is adhered to. 4. Local communities become the principal decision makers for allocation of concessions and quota setting for hunting on their land, and they receive and manage the funds thus generated. 5. A substantial percentage of revenues from hunting is reinvested into the conservation of wildlife and habitats. Governance in Conservation – a worldwide Challenge In order to support such types of reform donors, NGOs and international organisations should follow a "no-tolerance" policy against Governments which do not perform up to standard. Presently the widespread graft is only bemoaned and is the subject of studies and declarations. As long as doubtful Governance is rewarded with untied and badly controlled budget support, little is going to change in reality. If donors including NGOs are really serious to bring about change they can jointly exert significant pressure for better Governance, as has been tried – admittedly with little success - in the wildlife and forestry sectors in Tanzania in recent years. “The international donor community should, therefore, continue to use their influence to encourage appropriate reform.” (Smith et al.) An unsophisticated system of certification of tourist hunting along the lines of forestry certification could also help to improve safari hunting standards as proposed by the author earlier (Baldus 2003). Involving local and central hunting administrations in the process of developing and applying such certification systems could lead to capacity building and empowerment. The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) should continue developing such systems with broad involvement of stakeholders, in particular landowners and “enlightened” safari hunting operators. A simple abolition of hunting would not help, but rather make things even worse. Even in badly managed systems, hunting is still a powerful tool to finance protected areas, to motivate rural people to maintain bio-diversity and allow wildlife on their land. Trade bans are advocated by many as a means to conserve, but in corrupt societies these well meant strategies do not work. They cannot be controlled and open only new gates for illegal profits. Sustainable extractive use, including recreational and tourist hunting, and protection of wildlife in Africa are complementary and two sides of the same coin. Hunting will not, or only within limited measures, produce its beneficial effects for biodiversity conservation, if existing bad Governance continues and does not allow best practices to be introduced. The same might be said, however, for all kinds of so-called “non-consumptive” (non-extractive would be the better word) wildlife use and the protection of nature in national parks. Despite a confessed commitment to minimising the ecological footprint, photographic safaris and recreational use of national parks by eco-tourists are essentially consumptive activities – common problems include pollution, natural resource degradation, externization of benefits, and more diffuse cultural effects (Borgerhoff, Mulder and Coppolillo). The struggle for good Governance is universal, neither restricted to hunting, nor to certain countries. Corruption in conservation should not be simply ignored, as Smith and Walpole conclude, “and it is crucial that the lessons learned in one location are made available elsewhere.” (Smith and Walpole, p.254.) Further research is useful, but enough is known about the problem and its negative consequences to initiate action.