Pretoria, 23 March 2016 – The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) today added its voice to the growing support for Prince William’s endorsement of trophy hunting in Africa.
“It is common knowledge that where legal, sustainable and responsible trophy hunting takes place, the headcount of game flourishes. South Africa is a classic example of how the sustainable use of its wildlife benefits not only rural communities but also assists with the country’s conservation programmes,” says the association’s chief executive Tharia Unwin.
Unwin says there are an estimated 10 000 privately owned game ranches in South Africa, predominantly in marginal agricultural areas, covering an estimated 20.5 million hectares of land. Fifty years ago, a headcount of all the game in the country would have numbered around 500 000. “Today there are around 20 million, of which about 16 million are privately owned,” she said.
“To put it into perspective: private enterprise owns three times more land and four-fifths of all the game, managed under hugely successful and effective conservation programmes, than all the state-owned parks and reserves combined. South Africa’s wildlife and conservation success story is unparalleled anywhere in the world and it’s almost entirely due to the safari hunting industry.”
“Thanks to hunting, species such as the black wildebeest, bontebok, Cape mountain zebra and white rhino have been brought back on the brink of extinction. Our sable and roan populations, most of which are privately owned, are growing again while species are constantly being re-introduced into areas where they have become locally extinct,” she says.
“Kenya by comparison, which imposed a blanket ban on all hunting in the Seventies, has lost almost 85% of all its game. Kenya shows us what happens when there is no incentive for farmers to invest in game.”
According to Unwin, South Africa’s model for sustainable wildlife conservation also had important ramifications to many of the country’s other social challenges, particularly employment creation, skills development and food security. “More than 100 000 people are employed in the wildlife industry. Additionally, around three times more people are employed on a game farm than a traditional livestock farm.”