A great misconception held by the public at large is that hunting has a detrimental effect on wildlife. But the truth is, sport hunting is one of the most important tools in species management in Africa. It may seem counter-intuitive that killing animals is good for the species, but when you look closely, the reasons become clear.
Two countries of similar size and geography are Kenya and Tanzania. Kenya banned all hunting in 1977, a ban which is still in place. Tanzania did not succumb to anti-hunting pressure, and boasts a thriving safari business, including the hunting of elephants. Today, Tanzania has a herd of 50,000 elephants, and Kenya has only 11,000. So why the difference?
In addition to the obvious reasons; harvest management and the millions of dollars pumped into Tanzania’s economy and wildlife conservation projects from fees generated by safari hunting, another, less apparent reason emerges; When indigenous people benefit from fees generated by safari hunting, instead of being part of the problem, they become part of the wildlife conservation solution.
Before foreign hunters’ money benefited the communal areas, an elephant was the enemy, as one jumbo could easily destroy a man’s 2-acre maize crop in one night. But because of its new-found economic value from safari hunting, the elephant is now worth much more money to the farmer than his entire crop of maize. By participating in the economic benefits of the hunt, the indigenous people not only don’t shoot the animals themselves, they actively participate in anti-poaching campaigns, thus protecting the herd. Sadly, without the incentive of the economic benefits of hunting, there is little anti-poaching protection of the herds in non-hunting countries. By placing an economic value on a species, it is conserved, protected, and nurtured by the indigenous people, and animal populations increase. When a trophy fee is paid for the harvest of an animal, though one animal dies, the species is benefited. And that’s what sustainable use hunting is all about.