Economic Benefits Of Trophy Hunting Overstated, Report Says

Economic Benefits Of Trophy Hunting Overstated, Report Says

Rural communities in African countries benefit negligibly from revenue generated by trophy hunting, according to a study commissioned by world wildlife preservation stakeholders to co-incide with the U.S.’s consideration of listing the African lion as an endangered species.

Trophy hunting supporters say the practice generates $200 million a year in remote areas of Africa. Opponents say research shows the industry is actually economically insignificant and makes a minimal contribution to national income, according to a report in HeraldOnline.com.

The study coincided with the U.S.’s consideration to grant the African lion endangered species status, the report said. It was commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the U.S. and International Humane Societies, and BornFree USA/Born Free Foundation. Authors of the study were Economists at Large, an Australia-based economists-without-borders-type organization.

Hunters pay as much as $38,000 for the experience of shooting lions raised legally on 160 African farms, resulting in a long-running controversy among hunters, captive breeders and animal rights advocates, according to a Huffington Post report. For the five years ending in 2011, 4,062 trophies were exported from Africa, the report said.

Trophy hunting revenue accounts for a maximum of 0.27 percent of gross domestic product for nine investigated African countries that allow it, the study shows. Just 3 percent of that money actually reaches the rural communities where hunting occurs.

Nine countries that allow trophy hunting include South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso and Benin, according to the Economists at Large study.

“Local African communities are key stakeholders for conservation and they need real incentives for conservation,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for  International Fund for Animal Welfare, in the HeraldOnline.com report. “Non-consumptive nature tourism, like wildlife viewing and photo safaris, is a much greater contributor than trophy hunting to both conservation and the economy in Africa. If trophy hunting and other threats continue depleting Africa’s wildlife, then Africa’s wildlife tourism will disappear. That is the real economic threat to the countries of Africa.”

African lions have declined by more than 50 percent in the last 30 years, with 32,000 left, the report said. The steepest declines are in African countries with the highest hunting intensity.

“An overwhelming 62 percent of trophies from (lion) kills are imported into the U.S.,” said Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife for Humane Society International. “We must do all we can to put an end to this threat to the king of beasts.”

If the U.S. Endangered Species Act list African lions, the import and commercial trade in lion parts would be prohibited and likely reduce the number of lions taken by Americans each year, according to HeraldOnline.com.

“The U.S. government has a serious responsibility to…prevent American hunters from killing wild lions, especially when the latest evidence shows that hunting is not economically beneficial,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Listing the African lion under the Endangered Species Act will help lions at almost no cost to African communities.”