While the world media and animal rights movement are in a frenzy calling for a ban on all trophy hunting activities and products, in May Zambia lifted its ban on the hunting of lions and leopards. It was found that a ban imposed in 2013 had seriously affected wildlife resources and the livelihoods of local people.
Although animal rights activists were outraged by the decision to lift the ban, the fact remains that the social, economic and environmental benefits of trophy hunting are real and tangible, particularly when the regulatory framework behind managed sustainable hunting is robust. Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts told parliament that leopard hunting will resume in the 2015/2016 hunting season and lion hunting will resume under a quota system in the 2016/2017 season.
In neighbouring South Africa, the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) has reiterated its support for trophy hunting in that country, arguing that sustainable use of wildlife provides real incentives for landowners and others to preserve vast areas of natural habitat. PHASA believes that for wildlife to survive and thrive on the continent, African communities need to have some sort of benefit and the only benefit they can have from wildlife is financial. The legal hunting industry generates around 6.2 billion rand ($AU510 million) per year.
South African Airways (SAA) has also recently lifted an embargo on transporting legal hunting trophies after discussions with its Department of Environmental Affairs. Edna Molewa, the Minister for Environmental Affairs, welcomed the decision because some airlines and cargo handlers had incorrectly failed to distinguish the difference between the trade in and transportation of legally acquired wildlife specimens, and the illegal trade of wildlife specimens. Molewa was quoted as saying, “It should be remembered that hundreds of legally acquired wildlife specimens, such as hunting trophies, pass through our main ports of entry and exit monthly without incident…penalising an entire industry for the illegal actions of a few is not in the country’s best interests.”
Another interesting quote from Minister Molewa was heard during an interview on ABC’s Lateline on June 15, where she indicated that the Australian government did not attempt a consultation with South Africa before implementing a blanket ban on importing hunting trophies.