Trophy hunting threatened by mutants

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by NamStay, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. NamStay

    NamStay AH Enthusiast

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    Namibia has a fantastic reputation among the hunting fraternity worldwide; this is put under pressure by a small sector of the industry hell-bent on introducing animals with rare genetic traits for self-gain.


    The Namibian trophy hunting industry is deeply concerned about a stealthy introduction of genetically manipulated intensive breeding of wildlife, a trend that has blown over from South Africa where the market for such species has literally collapsed.

    It is legal in South Africa to intensely breed rare genetic traits such as colour variants and for excessive horn length. Popular breeds include black- and white-flanked impala, golden wildebeest, golden gemsbok, the king wildebeest and many more variants.

    Namibia's legislation does not make provision for this type of farming. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), and conservation circles, do not endorse it either.

    The Namibia Professional Hunting Association (Napha) already two years ago very strongly condemned any artificial breeding for trophy hunting.

    NAPHA and other organisations such as the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) and the Federation of Namibian Tourism Association (Fenata) remain steadfast in their rejection of this new trend that could cause irreparable reputational damage to Namibia's trophy hunting industry, and the hunting industry in general.

    “Trophy hunting forms a big part of sustainable use of our natural resources in Namibia. Your usual average international trophy hunter that wants to come to Africa with a vision in mind of wide open spaces, the real Africa pursuit for ethical and conservation hunting, does not want to know that we intesively and slectively breed with animals for hunting,” commented professional hunter and president of Napha, Danene van der Westhuyzen.

    A few very affluent game ranchers started to experiment with colour variants in South Africa around 2009.

    This game breeding segment of the wildlife industry experienced a real boon around 2013 essentially because they sold these animals as breeding stock at exorbitant prices with teh promise of growing demand for hunters.

    It went so well for a while that even the Financial Mail in South Africa reported that it had outperformed the best financial instruments on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

    This created such a hype around the colour variants that some in the industry tried their hand at it.

    However, the bubble has burst spectacularly. Although game auction sales in general declined by 10% in revenue and 16% in wildlife, teh decline in prices for colour variants have been much more dramatic.

    It created an oversupply and with no real trophy hunters' market for the mutants, South African breeders are knocking on Namibia's door to find a new outlet.

    South African breeders have started to aggressively market the manipulated game species in Namibia since around 2015 and 2016 and interest seems to be growing, albeit amongst a small but influential group in the game hunting fraternity lured by the promise of massive profits.

    However, while the hunting industry in South Africa generates more than N$10 billion a year (N$2 billion of which is from the trophy hunting sector) hunting for colour variants has dramatically fallen.

    Between March 2015 and April 2017 prices for some colour variants in South Africa, particularly females in breeding herds sold on auction, have plummeted from about N$500 000 to below N$100 000 per animal.

    The price for a black impala has dropped with a whopping 87%, king wildebeest (80% decline), buffalo (45% decline), and golden wildebeest (40%).

    And yet, the repeated promise of a quick buck in difficult economic times remains an enticing allure for some game ranchers in Namibia.

    Wildlife Ranching Namibia is one organisation that is pro-intensive breeding. It argues that the phenomenon is not only good for trophy hunting, but that there are also other potential off-shoots such as the production of game meat.

    Intensive breeding of game meat would, however, impact negatively on the marketability of game meat as 'free range' with no antibiotics and supplements.

    Another argument used is that intensive breeding means less lan required and more land available for land reform purposes and increased job creation in the wildlife sector.

    The hype

    Angus Middleton, executive director of the NNF said the hype around the colour variants and other rarespecimens is that these make desirable trophies for which hunters would pay top dollar.

    “The reality is that all the big trophy hunting organisations do not accept any intensely mutilated specimens on their trophy records,” Middleton said.

    These trophy hunting organisations include big international players such as the Safari Club International, Dallas Safari Club, Boone & Crockett, Roland Ward, and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation.

    “There is no question that there is no demand for these animals on the high-end market and yet the narrative continues that if you buy these animals you will be able to cash in on this amazing trophy market,” said Middleton.

    No market, no conservation

    The truth of the matter is that responsible hunters want to hunt wild game in a fair chase situation in their natural habitat.

    Game that has been intensively bred and manipulated like agricultural stock over time can tame and lose their natural resilience to survive the wild, commented Lizanne Nel, conservation manager at the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA).

    Hunting of these animals can cause reputational damage to the responsible hunting sector, said Nel.

    Last year, South Africa's trophy hunting industry suffered a major reputational blow with the release of 'Blood Lions', a documentary about the captive-bred lion industry.

    This resulted in an oversupply of between 7 000 and 8 000 lions in breeding facilities. Breeders are now looking at alternative markets like trading in lion bones and skin primarily to China.

    “Is this really the direction we want to go? If teh social, economic and ecological impacts of the public outcry and international reaction to hunting of captive-bred lions is an indication of the risks associated with it, teh hunting industry has to consider if teh short-term financial gains of a few outweigh teh long-term negative impact on the wildlife sector,” said Nel.

    Damage to environment

    Yet another big concern is the damage to the natural environment and other animal life.

    In a span of less than 10 years intensive game breeding in South Africa has meant that game farms are increasingly cut up in small camps encircled with highly electrified fencing, some with more than 15 electric wires, for breeding facilities.

    This means that added pressure is being placed on free-ranging wildlife like cheetah, wild dog and smaller animals like tortoises and even dung beetles that are killed on mass by impermeable electric fences that reach down to the ground.

    Research has shown that one of the major causes of the demise of pangolins – in addition to illegal trade – are electric fences. Porcupines digging holes under fences are being annihilated by farmers who brook no competition for the new, prized colour variants.

    No mitigating measures are being taken.

    Other risks include line-breeding to fix rare traits, disease risks associated with breeding with wild species in intesive agricultural production systems and transformation of natural habitats.

    Also worrying is the fact that former agricultural land is being converted into fields producing fodder for the expensive new breeds.

    Van der Westhuyzen is deeply concerned about the impact it will have in Namibia.

    She said if Namibia is not cautiously guarding its reputaiton, hunters will move elsewhere because the majority want to hunt responsibly.

    “It is as if the intensive breeders are living in a bubble. They have no idea what the world perspective is and they do not care because they do this purely for self-gain. Anyone is allowed to pursue business and strive to be successful and gain financially, but as a stakeholder in the tourism industry they have to realise that it influences numerous other institutions negatively, not to mention the reputational damage to our own country as a tourism destination. This is unacceptable.

    “It is costing the rest of the industry dearly. The repercussions on a fantastic industry we now have will be enormous. Conservation is going to fall. Even tourism will take a big knock when people realise there are funny animals walking around Namibia and everything is fenced off; there is no free movement any longer. We have to protect the habitat if we want to protect the natural world. If you do not have habitat, you won't have any natural wildlife.”


    Source: https://www.namibiansun.com/news/trophy-hunting-threatened-by-mutants/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2017
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  2. CAustin

    CAustin BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Thank you for sharing!
     

  3. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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  4. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    I'm waiting for someone to breed a one eyed, one horn, flying purple people eater. Ought to be some good hunting.
     

  5. johnnyblues

    johnnyblues AH Legend

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  6. tigris115

    tigris115 AH Enthusiast

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    Honestly, thank Goodness that these color morphs are being rejected. As someone who's on a zoo forum, I've developed a distaste for white lions/tigers for being inbred as pugs that are only perpetuated for glamour value. It seems the same with these freakish antelope
     
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