Hunting – almost no subject draws as many contradictory views. Those involved in the ‘sport’ are often passionate about their right to hunt and more importantly about the game they hunt. They are usually fierce advocates of animal rights and species protection, but they also advocate for the right to be involved in legal hunting activities. No group of people is more vehement in its outcry against poaching and illegal hunting than those people who engage in legal hunting.
In Africa, and specifically South Africa, hunting is a highly regulated activity where permits are required to hunt any form of game animal. The more limited the number of the particular species, the higher the cost of the permit. However, this is not the only form of check imposed on hunters. In most cases hunters are required to be accompanied by qualified and registered professionals who can ensure a safe hunt and clean kill.
Many of the misconceptions about hunting arise in countries where the level of control is lower. What follows is a brief description of some of the negatives which are often raised and how this is not the case in South Africa.
- Hunting causes the animals to suffer. While it is true that not every kill is a clean one, every effort is made to ensure that the animals being hunted do not suffer. This is overseen by the professional on the hunt who has the right to dispatch the animal if necessary.
- It isn’t about conservation. The specific act of the kill may not be about conservation or even population control, however, the licenses and permits raise much-needed funds which are used for conservation purposes. In addition, hunting is only allowed to take place in herds where there are sufficient or excessive numbers or where the loss of the individual will not have a negative impact on the species or native ecology.
- There are few regulations. In South and Southern Africa, this is far from the case. Hunting is a heavily regulated activity. Both in terms of legal regulations, as well as community-based regulations. Hunting associations such as PHASA ensure that visiting hunters adhere to the rules. Hunting can only take place during designated periods and in accordance with population sizes. It is a very scientific approach.
- Its all about profits. While hunting is a ‘business’ much of the money raised is used to better the lives of the communities which live in the areas where hunting takes place. In addition, conservation organisations benefit from the money raised through the sale of permits.
- There are many other victims. It is true that hunting accidents do occur, however, these incidents are few and far between. Also, cases of domestic animals being killed are limited and in all cases the owner is the livestock is adequately recompensed.
- Hunted animals go to waste. This is far from the case. Whether the meat from the hunt is given away or sold, no part of the animal is ever wasted. In addition, hunters often have to pay additional money to have the animal dressed or mounted which generates additional income for the local economy. Then there are the fees charged for export permits and forwarding and freighting. All of these generate income for the country of the hunt.
So, while hunting may not be an entirely popular activity, it is not nearly as ‘bad’ or ‘negative’ as many anti-hunting lobbyists would claim. In the South African region, hunting is actually quite a beneficial process, both for the animals and the economy.