Why International Hunting is Integral to African Conservation and Community Success
Safari Club International (SCI) has launched a new landing page, International Hunting, which includes the resources, scientific research, and African community perspectives supporting international hunting. Opposition to international hunting around the world, such as in the upcoming UK trophy banand the U.S. Interior Appropriations bill, is becoming more prevalent. As SCI works for hunting and conservation worldwide, it is vital for policy makers and the general public alike to be aware of the scientific data, hunting conservation methods, contributions of sportsmen and women, and realities of Africans and African wildlife. International hunting, with benefits directed to local communities and wildlife conservation, is a proven method of species and ecosystem conservation across the globe, especially in southern Africa. There is a constant fight against international hunting, however, based on misinformation, misguided emotions, and unwarranted control of wildlife. Activists seek to eradicate international hunting in order to protect animals, but what many fail to realize is that this will harm the animals themselves. The Western world ignores scientific data and the voice of Africans for a romanticized, unrealistic view of wildlife preservation. Before European involvement, Africans hunted and managed their wildlife sustainably for thousands of years. Colonialist notions of wildlife led to the decreased animal populations we have now, and the Western world is once again rejecting the voice of Africans. Westerners often fail to comprehend the rise of human-wildlife conflict and competition for space in Africa. Appreciation for the intrinsic value of charismatic wildlife only goes so far when wild animals destroy villages, livelihoods, and lives, and a ban on international hunting does not mean more animals survive. On the contrary, when animal populations are overconcentrated and unsustainable for an area, entire herds can be culled – a practice with fewer ethical considerations and which uses, rather than generates, revenues. Impoverished communities often turn to poaching and illegal activities to scrape together a livelihood. Ultimately, respect and appreciation for wildlife diminishes as people are forced to choose between the lives of animals and their own. Africa is in desperate need of a viable solution that maximizes benefits for Africans and wildlife. Fortunately, international hunting is a proven sustainable and effective solution. It generates funds for communities and local governments, in addition to funding for management of species and ecosystem protection. The revenues come from ethical, highly regulated, and conscientious hunts which harvest individual animals for the benefit of the whole. Landscapes and habitats also have a high value under this system; higher than the alternatives to hunting, which are habitat destruction through drilling, agriculture, or infrastructure development. When a hunting lodge employs a village, creates meaningful work, and connects communities to nature, they are more likely to tolerate human-wildlife conflict – an all too frequent reality. When international hunting is outlawed, unemployment rises, human-wildlife conflict escalates, habitats are degraded, poaching increases, and wildlife populations plummet. We must move past fabricated ethics and quixotic ideas on wildlife and work to build a success story for Africa. Safari Club International works to amplify the voice of Africans, educate on the values of international hunting, and stand up for hunters and conservationists around the world. Africans and sportsmen and women hold deep respect for wildlife, and their combined efforts lead to animal population growth. With hunting, sustainable management, and African leadership, we will have more wildlife, more wild landscapes, and a thriving coexistence with nature.