Financial Mail : A shot in the arm

Discussions on how hunters are affected by gun laws.

Financial Mail : A shot in the arm

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-08-21 15:03

A shot in the arm
Financial Mail (South Africa)
Hunting Industry; 64
August 10, 2007
Byline: Sherry Shannon

Industry supports nearly 100000 jobs SA is home to about 9000 game farms Ready to hunt Expensive hobby SA has approximately 65 species hunted for trophies ... making it the country with the highest number of wildlife species hunted INDUSTRY REPORT The hunting business is truly booming as farms are converted Hunters have more than animals in their sights; they are also gunning to further develop one of SA's fastest growing industries.

Hunters, many from overseas, spend more than R3bn each year pursuing and shooting SA wildlife. The industry already supports almost 100000 jobs. An investment upsurge has resulted in a doubling of the number of fenced game farms in the past decade to more than 6000. Many have been converted by traditional farmers who recognise the greater profit potential.

Not all farms are dedicated to hunting but, according to a 2005 study, fenced wildlife ranches cover about 14,8mha, or 12% of SA. Throw in unfenced, private wildlife areas and the number climbs to about 9000 farms covering about 20,5mha, or almost 17% of SA. If the 7,5mha covered by 22 national parks and about 100 provincial parks is included, almost a quarter of the country's land is dedicated to wildlife.

The distinction between fenced and unfenced areas is important in the industry: suitably fenced ranches, known as exempted farms, qualify for three year certificates of adequate closure, which grant owners the right to hunt, capture and sell approved species throughout the year. In nonexempted areas, hunting is allowed only during the hunting season, from March to September.

The last time a comprehensive national breakdown of game farming was conducted was in 2000. Then, the Northern Cape (4,9mha) and Limpopo (3,3mha) had by far the most land dedicated to exempted farms. The Eastern Cape, with 0,9mha, was third, according to figures published in hunting magazine Game & Hunt.

However, the 2006 report by the National Agricultural Marketing Council to investigate opportunities and problems in the industry notes: Wildlife ranching has been the fastest growing agricultural activity in SA in the past three decades. The report identifies recreational hunting as the biggest single contributor of income to the SA wildlife industry. A study at Northwest University's Institute for Tourism & Leisure Studies reveals that recreational hunters spend an average R11622 each year on animals hunted and a further R4130 on secondary expenditure such as accommodation, meat processing and rifles.

The study says 200000 recreational hunters in SA hunt about 1m animals each year. This gives the recreational hunting industry a turnover of about R3,1bn, of which R2,3bn is spent on animals and R800m on secondary expenditure.

The most popular animals sought by recreational hunters are springbok (29%), impala (19%), blesbok (13%), kudu (8%) and warthog (8%). In the year to September 2005, 5452 impala were shot. Hunters paid an average US$323 for each animal, making a total of more than $1,76m. In the same year 15 crocodiles were hunted at an average of $5952 each and 23 hippo at $8270 each.

The report notes that SA is the world's third most biologically diverse country after Brazil and Indonesia and, as such, is home to a wide variety of animals sought by trophy hunters. SA has approximately 65 species that are hunted for trophies ... making it the country with the highest number of wildlife species hunted for trophies. It goes on to say: Trophy hunters spend substantially more than the normal overseas tourist, thereby contributing substantially more per capita towards foreign exchange earnings. In 2005 professional hunters hunted about 40000 animals in SA. Trophy hunters are acknowledged as high value/low impact tourists. More than 50% of trophy hunters to SA are from the US, with most of the rest from Europe. All visiting hunters are obliged to use hunting outfitters who are paid to arrange the hunt and accommodation and apply for permits and so on. Visiting hunters must also be accompanied by locally registered, professional hunters.

In 2005 there were 1623 registered hunting outfitters and 3631 registered professional hunters. These professionals charged each trophy hunter a daily rate of $380 for their services, earning a total of R148m. Together with charges for animals hunted, trophy hunters spent about R410m in 2005.

Trophy hunters shot 305 lions in 2005, paying an average of $17390 for the privilege, for a total of about $5,3m. They also hunted 51 elephant at $20900 each for a total of about $1,1m, and 78 white rhino worth $2,3m.

SA hunters are generally charged the same as foreign visitors for trophy animals, but can pay as little as 20% for recreational hunting.

Hunting is not the only element of the overall wildlife industry. Others include: The sale of surplus animals, either directly to buyers or through auctions. In 2005, 17500 animals were sold for R93,5m. Due to drought this was down from the previous year, when 21000 animals were auctioned for R104,5m.

The taxidermy industry, which is estimated to contribute R200m each year to the SA wildlife economy. This sector also benefits from wildlife hunted elsewhere in Africa, the report says.

Wildlife meat. The report recommends that more attention be paid to marketing wildlife meat, both locally and for export. It says that about 450t of wildlife meat is exported annually for R15m. Locally, about three times that amount is consumed at a value of R27m.

Wildlife meat has not been marketed well enough among local consumers and a stable wildlife meat market has therefore not been developed in SA. An opportunity exists for wildlife owners and meat suppliers to develop the local market for wildlife meat and to address the negative perceptions regarding wildlife meat. Wildlife meat has positive attributes such as low cholesterol levels and is free of diseases, growth hormones and antibiotics. These should be promoted to increase local consumption.

For the export market, it is important for SA to brand its wildlife meat to distinguish it from that produced in other countries ... This will allow the creation of a uniquely SA niche market for locally produced meat. The export market for wildlife meat has huge potential, but critical mass and lack of funds for a marketing campaign remain a problem. Capturing of animals. The report notes the legislative burdens and the high cost of doing business in the areas of wildlife capturing and translocation of animals. It says permits and licences are expensive in an industry with a turnover estimated at about R750m.

The report adds that the booming wildlife industry has ensured that numbers of wild animals in SA are at a 150 year high, increasing the demand for capturing and translocation.
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