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Barnett, R.; Patterson, C.
Sport hunting in the southern african development community (SADC)
2006  Full Book

Most of the countries making up the South African Development Community (SADC) are classified as 'developing' nations and are characterised by high population growth, limited industrial and tertiary industry, high unemployment, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita that is well below the poverty level. These countries are, however, blessed with an abundant natural resource base, including (in most cases) a dynamic wildlife sector. In fact, wildlifebased land use and industry offers real potential throughout the region as a viable development option, especially for rural communities with few other competitive advantages in today's globalised world. Traditionally, Africa's natural resources were used to support the livelihoods of rural people throughout the region. Wildlife benefits accrued either directly in the form of meat and hides or, more recently, indirectly through eco-tourism ventures or photographic safaris. Unfortunately, the legacy of colonialism, which introduced socially unacceptable wildlife policy and land tenure regulations, still prevents many local people from benefiting from the natural resources around them, yet expects them to accept any negative consequences without question. Growing human populations and a host of development pressures, however, have resulted in many people resorting to methods considered illegal by the government when accessing the natural resource base around them. Within the SADC region, governments have increasingly come to realise that without the support of local communities, conservation efforts are bound to fail. In the absence of benefits, people living in poverty are unwilling and unable to look after natural resources wisely. In some cases, governments have initiated processes to transfer ownership of wildlife, land use rights and decision-making responsibilities to local communities. The majority of such programmes have involved the integration of wildlife with other land use options, such as crop and livestock production. This strategy has allowed for multiple uses and the generation of maximum revenues. For example, the rights to utilize certain animals could firstly be 'sold' for photographic safaris or wildlife viewing, secondly to a hunter as a trophy or for biltong and, thirdly, its meat and/or hide could be sold or utilised by local communities. Significant successes have been achieved through such initiatives with multiplier effects, especially where sport hunting is a feature in the equation. Sport hunting is the hunting of an animal, generally by a foreign tourist, for its trophy value. Throughout the region, such hunters typically come from the USA or Europe. As sport hunting is primarily motivated by the thrill of the hunt and the subsequent acquisition of a take-away trophy, it can be carried out on land that is less scenic than that demanded for wildlife tourism. Further, the standard of accommodation and other infrastructure offerings can usually be far more 'rustic' in keeping with the less intrusive requirements of a rugged 'bush' experience. This allows for a greater diversity of land to be set aside for wildlife-based industries. Consequently, in 2000, southern Africa offered some 420,000 km2 of communal land, 188,000 km2 of commercial land, and 420,089 km2 of state land for sport hunting purposes. And finally, sport hunters are also less influenced by political events than other tourists, allowing for greater reliability in terms of sustaining constant revenue generation. Although sport hunting has the potential to raise significant sums of foreign income for a country, like anything else that involves money, the industry can be subject to abuse, corruption and mismanagement. In Africa, the very low salaries paid to wildlife personnel and the lack of transparent and accountable oversight processes exacerbate this vulnerability. While individual countries strive to assume a competitive advantage and fulfil a unique niche in terms of the species on offer, competition within the industry can be intense. In fact, there are usually a large number of potential operators but a limited number of hunting concessions available. The demand for good quality trophies increases the pressure on hunting operators to secure productive hunting concessions. The methods used to secure such concessions and to hunt suitable trophy animals can go beyond what is considered ethical, for example so-called canned hunts have become common in South Africa raising concerns over the principle of fair-chase. Similarly the practice of breeding colour varieties, translocating game to areas outside of their natural distribution, and cross-breeding species is also practices by some game farm owners. On occasion, corrupt or unsustainable practices have led to the temporary or permanent closure of the industry in certain countries, for example Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. Indeed, international and national critics of sport hunting, especially individuals or groups that are philosophically or fundamentally opposed to all forms of sport hunting, point to ethical lapses or corrupt practices to discredit the industry as a whole.

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