Trophy hunters overstate contribution of big game hunting to African economies: Report

A new report released by the Humane Society International (HSI) finds that trophy hunters are “grossly” overstating the economic benefits of big game hunting in Africa.

HSI timed the release of the report to coincide with the start of Safari Club International’s (SCI) annual convention in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 1. US-based SCI, one of the world’s largest trophy hunting advocacy organizations, released a report in 2015 that claimed trophy hunting-related tourism contributes $426 million annually to the economies of eight African countries and creates more than 53,400 full- and part-time jobs.

But the HSI report, prepared by Melbourne, Australia-based consultancy Economists At Large, found that SCI had “grossly overstated the contribution of big game hunting to eight African economies and that overall tourism in Africa dwarfs trophy hunting as a source of revenue,” according to a statement.

In the eight countries studied for both reports — Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe — tourism is responsible for 2.8 to 5.1 percent of GDP, according to the HSI report. Trophy hunting is responsible for less than $132 million — not $426 million, as SCI’s report claimed — of the $17 billion spent on tourism in those countries every year, or just 0.78 percent of total tourism spending, the HSI report’s author, economist Cameron Murray, adds. That’s an estimated 0.03 percent of GDP for those eight countries.

“In terms of the wider tourism economy, which relies heavily on wildlife resources, trophy hunting is relatively insignificant,” Murray writes.

Meanwhile, trophy hunting has a marginal impact on employment in those eight countries, as well. The HSI report states that big game hunting provides between 7,500 and 15,500 jobs. Even SCI’s estimate of the employment numbers directly and indirectly supported by the trophy hunting industry, 53,423 jobs, represents just two percent of the 2,589,000 jobs created by the tourism industry as a whole.

SCI did not respond to Mongabay’s request for comment.

The HSI report points out that there are other, less quantifiable impacts of trophy hunting that must be taken into consideration, as well. Trophy hunting is detrimental to conservation efforts because hunters tend to kill the strongest animals, which are critical to maintaining a healthy gene pool. Also, hunting quotas are frequently established without a solid scientific basis underlying them, and age restrictions on hunted animals are often ignored — “so that, for example, lions are killed as juveniles before they can contribute to the genetic pool,” Murray writes.

While the SCI report cites the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, which has said that, “Trophy hunting is a form of wildlife use that, when well-managed, may assist in furthering conservation objectives by creating the revenue and economic incentive for the management and conservation of the target species and its habitat, as well as supporting local livelihoods,” the HSI report counters that “corruption prevents trophy hunting funds from making it to conservation.”

The non-hunting tourism industry is growing much faster in Africa than the big game hunting industry, HSI report author Murray found: “Overall tourism spending grew by as much as the claimed direct value of the trophy hunting industry ($326 million) every four months on average in the eight study countries between 2000 and 2014.”

“For too long, trophy hunters have tried to justify their activity by falsely claiming that their killing helps local economies,” Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist for HSI, said in a statement.

“As this new report shows, those claims are a sham. In the African countries studied, trophy hunting contributes virtually nothing to local economies or jobs, and is dwarfed in comparison to tourism overall, including eco-safaris reliant on the very animal species whose populations hunters decimate. It’s time to stop pretending that slaughtering big game and posing for morbid selfies by their slain bodies is anything more than killing for kicks.”

Lions in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Photo by Rhett Butler.



5 thoughts on “Trophy hunters overstate contribution of big game hunting to African economies: Report

  1. The dentist who killed a lion brought a lot of attention to trophy hunting. Trophy hunters are upset that a hunter apparently wounded their sporting reputations in that he violated hunting ethics by poaching, but the hunter blames it on his guides. He allegedly participated in lion baiting, deliberately or unknowingly. He and or his hunting guides dragged a bait carcass, an elephant, outside a preserve to entice a lion, then he (Palmer) shot one of the lions that came out with an arrow, wounding it; then the lion was found hours later and killed. The head was cut off for a trophy and it’s collar left in the bush. The lion was already famous and was named Cecil. iI set off an international outcry.

    Hunters think the incident is a smudge on their “sporting” activity which they think is a contribution to national and local economies. Actually trophy hunting is harmful to the wild and to economies. Hunting African trophies contributes no more than a fraction to national economies (.27% of GDP) and 1.8 % of overall tourism, and very little reaches the locals. Wildlife viewing safaris contribute much more economically, and and much than lion killing in particular Trophy hunters in general are likely hurting wildlife viewing economies: Lion populations are plummeting with 40-50% of African lions gone in the past 50 years; an elephant an hour is being killed by hunters or poachers. Other animals are being decimated.

    Hunting is in no way conservation. Hunting begets hunting. Huntings begets some form of animal farming for recreational killing. Human hunting is not natural to wildlife ecology. Wildlife viewing is more profitable than wildlife killing.

    At this rate there will be no more wildlife viewing opportunities, except on game farms and zoos. Bow shooting injures rather than kills right away in almost 50% of the shots, leaving an animal to suffer for hours, days, weeks, or months. Hunters, despite their claims, are not conservationists anywhere. Hunting is not conservation; it creates a distortion in wildlife ecology with target game farming and marginalizations of predators and impetus to game farming. A camera would work just as well or better than a gun or bow for getting out in the wild. For those who “hunt for the meat”, try the grocery meat counter or another meat outlet, although animal farming is harmful to environment and health and not sustainable; so try a meatless day a week or more often and help the environment and the wild, it might grow on you.

    Hunting is not a sport, the animal targets have not agreed to the game. Hunting is not a healthy activity, recreational killing is not good for the wild or the man beast. It is a primitive and barbaric, and cruel activity.


    Cecil the lion’s killer Walter Palmer ‘wanted to stalk an … › … › Zimbabwe
    The Daily Telegraph
    Jul 31, 2015 – Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who shot deadCecil the lion in Zimbabwe, asked … with the sun down, and found the carcass of an elephant which we dragged and moved into the long grass and used for bait,” he said.

    Economics of Trophy Hunting in Africa Are Overrated and Overstated
    by Exposing the Big Game

  2. Pingback: Trophy Hunting | A Time for Action

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