Study on the Professional and Recreational Hunting Industry in South Africa

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Oct 1, 2007
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A Status Quo Study on the Professional and Recreational Hunting Industry in South Africa
by Claire Patterson and Patson Khosa
Prepared for the Panel of Experts (POE) appointed by the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism


Download the entire study at View attachment hunting-industry-in-africa.pdf.

1. Executive Summary
In response to the comments received on the draft norms and standards for the sustainable use of large predators, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism appointed a Panel of Experts to draft norms and standards for the regulation of professional and recreational hunting in South Africa. In order to draft these norms and standards, the Panel of Experts called for the production of four background research papers, one of which was on the ‘status quo of the professional and recreational hunting industry’ which was to look at factors such as the size, structure, ownership, economic benefits, and areas of concern and impacts, amongst others.

South Africa is the world’s third most biologically diverse country but has a divided history when it comes to social development. People who were historically dependent on natural resources such as wildlife were denied the opportunity to utilize them leaving their livelihoods compromised. The government now faces the challenge of addressing these inequalities and it making industries such as hunting available to all.

The hunting industry has developed into a multi-million rand industry which offers a viable form of land use in areas not suitable for other forms of income generation. Multiple income generating activities are possible on areas which offer hunting. Wildlife can not only be ‘sold’ for hunting, but also for photographic safaris, or ecotourism activities, as well as its meat and hide.

Unfortunately, as is possible with any other multi-million rand industry, it has become fraught with problems. Not only is it accused of unethical and immoral acts, but the lack of regulation and a solid legislative framework, has made activities appear corrupt, with the focus on short-terms gains rather than solid conservation objectives (Krug, 2001).

This document provides a brief background to hunting in South Africa during the past few decades. The demand for the hunting industry, from both the side of the hunting concession owner, as well as the hunter, are briefly outlined and a description of the types of hunting, which includes both the reasons for hunting as well as the various types of equipment used, are given.

From a quick look at the organization of the industry, it becomes clear that a formal framework for its operation does not exist in South Africa. Many privately initiated structures make attempts at controlling sections of the industry, but a lack of ‘teeth’ renders them relatively ineffective.

South Africa’s hunting industry is relatively large with between 5000 and 6000 hunters having visited the country during the 2003/2004 hunting season. These hunters shot 53 453 animals with a combined value of ZAR265 million (USD40.7 million). In addition, South Africa has an estimated 200,000 resident hunters and this sector of the industry is worth around ZAR2,9 billion. Although no formal statistics are kept for this sector of the hunting industry, ‘best guestimates’ have been used where necessary.

South Africa offers over 60 indigenous mammals as well as a host of alien species, hybrids and colour morphs. The fierce completion in the industry have led both hunting outfitters and wildlife producers to seek out niche markets. Offering hybrids and/or colour morphs is one way of doing this. The contribution to the conservation of wildlife by these operations has been questioned, however, and this question has been expanded to ask whether wildlife production belongs under conservation or agriculture.

Around 9000 farms are used for wildlife production. A further 15 000 are used for mixed stock and wildlife production. With around 73% of the land under wildlife being privately owned, it is clear that this sector is an important stakeholder in the industry. Communal land only contributes around 13% while the balance is State land.

Despite the majority of the land and wildlife production operations being in private hands, benefits do spread to other sectors of society. Between 5000 and 6000 jobs are provided by the industry and an estimated 63 000 jobs are provided by secondary industries such as tourism. Other benefits include tips, revenue for conservation authorities and communal landowners, education/training/capacity building, conservation levies, meat, and eco-tourism opportunities.

For the purposes of this report, industries ‘secondary’ to the hunting industry include huntable wildlife production, taxidermy, meat sales, and live sales. Huntable wildlife production has become an increasingly popular option for farmers, especially those in marginal areas but it appears as if this market has now reached saturation level. The taxidermy industry has a mixed reputation for the quality of its trophies and this results in the loss of income generation when the hunter takes his/her trophy back to his/her country of residence for processing. There are currently only three large meat exporters. The industry used to be larger but the strengthening rand reduced the viability of this as an option for many producers. In 2004, 23 455 animals were harvested for meat production. Live sales is an important component of the industry as a whole and had a turnover of ZAR87 million in 2001. Despite the mutual dependence of these industries, there are no legislative links between them.

Although the hunting industry has shown rapid growth in the past few decades, it has been slow to transform and encourage a broader diversity of society to become involved in the industry. Capacity training programmes have often been ad hoc or, where formally structured, only involve a small number of individuals. It is, however, generally seen as an important need within the industry.

The marketing of the industry is generally undertaken by people who have little to no formal training in marketing. Misrepresentations and miscommunications have been known to occur which can lead to frustrated and disillusioned clients, be they foreign nationals or South African citizens. While Hunting Outfitters should be free to market their own businesses, steps need to be considered to limit the possibility of creating a poor reputation for hunting in South Africa.

The impacts of the hunting industry are large. On the one hand, interest in huntable wildlife production, partially as a result of the demand for hunting, has resulted in a substantial increase in the amount of huntable wildlife in South Africa and the percentage of land surface available to huntable wildlife. On the other hand, it has been the recipient of considerable media attention with the focus usually being on practices considered unethical, inappropriate or even cruel by civil society. Although not documented, the negative press received by the industry has the potential to affect other sectors such as tourism, whether or not it is wildlife related. As a developing nation which relies strongly on its natural resources, the potential loss of foreign income must be viewed seriously.

The constraints faced by the industry are presented in two sections, constraints from international or regional parties and constraints from within South Africa. The constraints from other countries includes legislation, disease spread risk and competition.

The internal or domestic constraints facing South Africa’s hunting industry include:
• Improving the image of hunting to ensure the sustainability of the industry;
• Determining whether hunting should fall under conservation or agriculture. It is possible, however, that different sections belong in different categories but this needs further consideration by government;
• Implementing an effective information system which can assist in making management decisions;
• Recognising that hunting, and its associated industries, form an important part of local economies, often providing income generating options where few others exist;
• The reestablishment of a forum to provide transparent decision making, and a formal link between all stakeholders in the industry is necessary;
• Investigating ways and providing practical advice to hunting outfitters, wildlife producers, and wildlife and hunting organizations regarding the implementation of black economic empowerment and other capacity building programmes;
• The transferring of benefits other than those forming part of remuneration packages need to be investigated further;
• The role of secondary industries, and their ability to impact both negatively and positively on the pure hunting industry needs to be looked at. The contribution to biodiversity conservation by some of these industries, i.e. put-and-take wildlife production and the breeding of hybrids and colour morphs needs clarification and structuring;
• The marketing of hunts should be done in such a way that misrepresentations and hunter disappointment should not occur. The development of a national strategy should also be looked at in conjunction with South Africa’s other eco-tourism activities;
• Although part of a free-trade system, the considerable variances in hunt and huntable wildlife prices needs further consideration. The production of price guidelines has a potentially valuable role to play in ensuring hunter and wildlife producer satisfaction; and,
The governance of dart safaris needs to be relooked at. Although originally intended to assist farmers and/or reserve managers in offsetting management costs, this has not been the case in practice.

Download the entire study at View attachment hunting-industry-in-africa.pdf.
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