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Trophy hunting

Male kudu – by Yasmin Tayag

Big Game is the very essence of hunting in Africa. Trophy hunters shoot an estimated 50,000 rare animals a year in Africa, and if you have enough money and are so inclined, you can legally hunt pretty much any African animal, including lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, hippo and kudu. This is a serious business in Africa. Each year, at least 18,500 wealthy hunters make a pilgrimage to sub-Saharan Africa with one purpose: to track down one, or several, of the continent’s rarest and most majestic animals, then shoot them dead for sport.

All you need are the right permits, abide by the quotas and regulations, and it’s perfectly legal. Then, once you’ve killed it you can export your trophy home.

Sought-after trophy animals,

kudu and impala, are maintained in large numbers across South Africa,  within fenced, privately-owned reserves. In these environments, animal numbers need to be controlled, to prevent over-stocking and over-grazing. Surplus animals are often harvested for meat, with the larger males generating far more revenue if taken by a trophy hunter. This cull, on reserves, is of limited conservation concern and the money generated helps to pay for management, the very means required to keep reserves in good condition.

But aside, the impacts of trophy hunting depends on the species and the region being affected. As a result, in the past few decades, South Africa has seen a landscape of cattle farming replaced with wildlife farming.

Although trophy hunting has become a large part of reserves, it is not always beneficial for wildlife. Over-harvesting can clearly have a detrimental effect on numbers. Primarily because, trophy hunters select large males, having a profound affect on the breeding dynamics of animals in that region.

This trade

does not shy from controversy. Anti-hunters claim that hunting-conservation does not stand up. The problem lies in deciding whether hunting is beneficial. Both sides cannot be right. So, lets not fool ourselves about trophy hunting. Lions, one of dozens of hunted animal species, are threatened by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and human activities that disperse and displace the animals, and the loss of prey species. As the human population in Africa expands, there are few true wildernesses left. Once again, there is a major conflict between humans and wildlife.

The battle for land rights:

In terms of net gain (human births minus deaths), we are adding over 220,000 people to this planet every day, or over 150 people every minute; equalling over 80 million more people every year, about the same as the combined populations of California and Canada.

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