By Wyndham Hartley
The increasing number of countries and airlines that have banned the import and transport of hunted animal trophies has caused alarm in SA’s hunting industry, with predictions of economic harm, job losses and hampered rural development.
The European Union (EU) has just banned elephant trophies from Tanzania and Mozambique due to the drastic decline in elephant populations in those countries as a result of poaching.
Adam Cruise of the Conservation Action Trust recorded that in April last year the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced the temporary suspension of all imports of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, citing concerns that the two countries showed "a significant decline in the elephant population". He concluded that sport hunting of elephants in Zimbabwe and Tanzania "is not sustainable and is not currently supporting conservation efforts that contribute towards the recovery of the species".
Australia banned the import of trophy-hunted lions, he said.
Recently South African Airways, Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia and Air Emirates cargo divisions announced embargoes on transporting sport-hunting trophies, joining Air France, KLM, Singapore Airways and Qantas.
Debate rages in the US over whether hunting can be used as a significant tool in the conservation of wild animals, with the World Bank making $700,000 available to bolster trophy hunting of elephants and lions in Mozambique to preserve wildlife.
The other side of the coin is that conservation bodies insist killing animals in order to save others is not conservation.
On Wednesday Martin Hood of the Confederation of Hunting Associations of SA (Chasa) said the organisation had been engaging, along with other hunting associations, with the Department of Environmental Affairs about the ban on the export of hunting trophies by certain organisations and countries.
"All parties agree the continuation of the ban will adversely affect the South African local and international hunting industry, and will result in a further contraction of an already struggling economy and job losses.
"SA is a premier hunting destination for overseas hunters and is a conduit through which many hunters export their trophies from the rest of Africa."
It would also affect "the industry’s significant efforts at enhancing and preserving biodiversity" as required by law, he said.
Chasa believed the ban was motivated by sentiment, and not based on the correct information.