South Africa is one of the world’s largest suppliers of wildlife trophies, many of which come from animals bred in captivity. The greatest number are shot down by Americans. From tigers to vervet monkeys, everything is legal.
A report by the Humane Society International/Africa (HSI/Africa) — Trophy hunting in numbers – quantifies a global industry dedicated to the “sport” of hoarding wild animal parts for bragging rights by largely non-African hunters. It was released to coincide with World Wildlife Day today (Thursday).
South Africa is listed as the world’s second largest exporter of hunting trophies (after Canada), with most going to the United States, followed by Spain, Russia and Denmark.
The report is, as it says, about the numbers and coincides with the latest hunting quotas for this year published by the Ministry of the Environment: 10 critically endangered black rhinos, 150 endangered elephants – which will be mainly hunted in the Associated private nature reserves and therefore come from the free-ranging Kruger Park herds – and 10 leopards, listed as vulnerable and with no known population estimate to support the allocation.
This is worrying news, the report says, particularly on World Wildlife Day, which aims to celebrate our collective natural heritage each year on March 3 and draw attention to the plight of animals. threatened and endangered wildlife.
Between 2014 and 2018 (the latest comprehensive dataset from the UN trade organization CITES), South Africa exported 21,018 trophies, an average of 4,204 per year. Of these, 4,176 were lions, 1,337 elephants, 1,295 hippos, 675 rhinos and 574 leopards.
One in three trophies killed were animals bred in captivity for hunting, including most lions. However, almost all of the elephants, rhinos and leopards hunted were wild-sourced.
Smaller species included 2,729 baboons, 2,422 southern lechwe, 1,693 caracals, 1,453 vervet monkeys, 496 civets, 410 blue duikers, 385 servals, 229 Barbary sheep, 250 badgers, and one brown bear.
Critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable non-native species have also been captured and hunted in South Africa, including tigers, Indian hog deer, Arabian oryx and addax.
The United States was by far the largest importer of trophies (54%), followed by Spain (5%), Russia (4%) and Denmark (3%). Other countries included Hungary, Mexico, China, Australia, Poland, Germany, UK and France.
During the period, 2,227 trophies were imported into South Africa, mainly elephants, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, leopards and hippos, mainly from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
“The results of this study,” the report states, “demonstrate that South Africa is a major player in the international trophy hunting industry. This is something that the South African hunting industry to trophies and the South African government have promoted.
“[They] further proudly claim that trophy hunting contributes to conservation. The truth, as revealed in this study, is that trophy hunting as practiced in South Africa is based on highly managed and handled animals, as opposed to wild animals.
“In South Africa, hunted animals are bred, bought, sold, transported and otherwise processed and ultimately delivered to a property where a trophy hunter can kill them, and where killing is often guaranteed. the money that can be earned by industrialising, managing and manipulating wildlife for economic gain.
“This has significant negative impacts on animal welfare, provides opportunities for the illegal wildlife trade and seriously undermines claims that trophy hunting contributes to conservation.”
Although largely statistical, the report also notes some hunting methods suggested by hunting outfitters:
- “Baboons are similar to a human in physiology, so a chest shot will suffice.”
- “If you’re not hunting aardwolf in Africa, but the opportunity to take one comes up on a different hunt, then the rifle you have right now will do.” Try to place the ball just behind the shoulder, about a third of body height.
- “Blue duiker hunting is probably best done with a shotgun. Typical shot placement would of course be on or just behind the shoulder. However, when hunting blue duiker it may be necessary to settle for a shot wherever it can be done.
- “Serval hunting with dogs usually takes place in the morning. After lunch, you can take a nap and then step outside after dark under the floodlights.
- “This outfitter uses a live camera system that allows 24-hour monitoring of badger bait sites from the hunting lodge. You can actually watch the bait sites while you eat or relax at the lodge!”
- “African wildcat hunting mostly takes place while hunting other animals. If the African wildcat is facing outward, then what is commonly called “The Texas Brain Shot” – aimed at the base of the tail where it joins the body – will land it.
- “When hit well, the vervet monkey won’t get very far. They leave a nasty trail of blood as they bleed quickly. Unless the monkey falls over and stays down, wait about 15 minutes before following up.
A economic review of eight African countries, including South Africa, demonstrated that the total economic contribution of trophy hunters was only 0.03% of the gross domestic product of these eight countries.
Conservation experts and professionals Say trophy hunting “gives low returns at the household level, with only a fraction of the income generated reaching local communities”.
“We are terribly disappointed that the DFFE [Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment] is failing in its duty to protect our threatened and endangered wildlife,” says Dr. Audrey Delsink, Director of Wildlife for HSI/Africa.
“It is unacceptable that we allow people to hunt endangered and critically endangered animals with the aim of collecting their remains as trophies.
“The claim that trophy hunting contributes to conservation cannot be substantiated in light of evidence showing that one-third of South Africa’s hunting trophies are captive-bred animals and many are non-native species. native or not under scientific population management.
“The captive breeding and intensive farming of wild animals in South Africa for profit often undermines conservation efforts, with negative impacts on biodiversity when protected landscapes are carved up into breeding camps and predators are targeted as competitors.
“Killing animals for ‘fun’ is part of the archaic ‘if it pays, it stays’ concept that demands immediate change. Killing animals for fun has no place in conservation. DM/OBP