Hunting revenue surges 15 percent

Hunting revenue surges 15 percent
The majority of hunters from the American market had avoided Zimbabwe since the controversial slaying of the iconic feline,  Ceci; the Lion

The majority of hunters from the American market had avoided Zimbabwe since the controversial slaying of the iconic feline, Cecil the Lion

TROPHY hunting revenues rose by 15 percent to US$28,8 million in the first two months of the current hunting period, from US$25 million during the same period last year, due to renewed interest in Zimbabwe game, according to official statistics.
The hunting season, which begins in April and ends in November, has seen the lion and elephant accounting for the bulk of the bounty, figures from the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (SOAZ) show.
The majority of hunters are from the American market, which had avoided Zimbabwe since the controversial slaying of the iconic feline, Cecil the Lion, in July 2015, sparking global outrage from conservationists.
SOAZ president, Emmanuel Fundira, said the industry expects annual trophy hunting earnings to surpass the US$100 million realised last year.
“The 2017 hunting season has commenced on a very high note and recorded positive earnings with an increase of 15 percent as compared to the same period the previous year. Annual revenue earnings are projected to increase by 30 percent to US$130 million by the time the season ends,” Fundira said.
He said lions and elephants were attracting most hunters.
The trophy hunting season peaks during the country’s hottest month of October when hunters take advantage of adverse conditions in wildlife reserves.
The period between December and March is reserved for breeding.
Fundira attributed the growth of the safari earnings to success achieved during last year’s charged Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference in South Africa, where Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan countries strongly resisted embargos on trophy hunting involving endangered species such as elephants and lions.
“The recorded growth is largely attributed to the successes achieved last year, particularly at CITES, when the joint efforts by government and the private sector staved off an aggressive move by some African range states such as Kenya, which had sponsored proposals to uplift two of our major species, the elephant and lion, from Appendix 11 to Appendix 1,” Fundira said.
“The proposal was defeated hands down and that meant that Zimbabwe and other SADC countries with proven and successful conservation records could continue harvesting the two named species. As a result the market responded positively by re-establishing their traditional markets and bookings at the major hunting shows in Dallas Reno and Las Vegas (in the USA).”
“As an addition, Zimbabwe prides itself in offering a memorable experience to Safari enthusiasts in that hunting is carried out on a fair chase basis and that annual quotas are well controlled to ensure full compliance with CITES regulations,” he added.
According to CITIES regulations, the African elephant is on CITES’ Appendix I, except for those populations in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, which are on Appendix II.
The normal CITES rules for Appendix I-listed species is that commercial, international trade in specimens taken from the wild is prohibited. For Appendix II listed species, the rules allow commercial, international trade, subject to first obtaining the necessary permits.
The size of the African elephant populations of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa implies that they can still be hunted. The same applies to lions.
SOAZ is currently vigorously marketing trophies around the world, with the US market, which is the biggest, being cautious in buying hunting trophies from the country after the killing of Cecil in July 2015.
The US government also expressed concern at the time that local communities were not benefitting from trophy hunting proceeds. Currently, local communities are getting proceeds between US$1 million and US$1,5 million a year or US$2 million in a good year.
Lion hunting is the biggest contributor to trophy hunting in the country. A 10-day trophy lion safari inclusive of trophy fees and baits, costs as much as US$50 000, but the amount can even rise to US$60 000 for big males.
A similar elephant trophy costs US$20 000 per animal, although large bulls can top US$25 000, according to SOAZ figures.
Other members of the big five cost US$9 000 and US$10 000 for the buffalo and leopard, respectively.
The rhinoceros, which completes the big five, fetches the most at US$70 000, but its hunting is banned since it is extremely endangered.

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