As mentioned before on this website, conservation is part of Namibia’s constitution, but how does that fact support hunting endangered animals?
Through the years in tourism it becomes very evident that normal safari tourism and hunting tourism do not mix well, simply due to the fact that the one side cannot understand why the other side enjoys shooting living beings. The purpose of this article is to explain how hunting fits into the entire conservation concept of Namibia.
A couple of years ago I was driving transfers for a hunting farm. On one of these transfers we encountered the rare opportunity to witness a rhino rescue and relocation, needless to say that was the hot topic at the dinner table. Through the evening it became apparent that the farmer was rather cynical about the whole story and thus I enquired why. He told me that the rescued rhino cow had been pushed through the fence (we are talking about a 2,5m reinforced game fence) by an older bull who was quite the trouble maker. The farmer had requested a relocation for this bull, as it had already attacked younger rhinos, but was put onto a wait list since there were limited funds only. A couple of months before that Namibia had been in the spotlight for auctioning off a black rhino bull for trophy hunting. It had caused a massive uproar and people had protested against it. The publicity of this auction had become so negative that the highest bidder retracted his bid of nearly 1 million in U$, as he had received death threats. In the end the permit for shooting this specific rhino was sold at a fundraiser of the Dallas Safari Club for $ 350 000.00.
That year (2014) the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) had picked out 18 black rhinoceroses allowed to be hunted. They did this according to specific criteria, these 18 rhinos all had something in common: They were too old to breed; they were unlikely to survive the next two years and most importantly: they were being aggressive and a threat towards younger, still fertile rhinos. The proceeds of these permits are used for the conservation of endangered animals in Namibia.
Trophy hunting is creating quite a lot of revenue for the conservation projects of Namibia. Like in the case above with the rhinos, the MET releases permits for shooting endangered animals based on specific criteria: is it a problem animal? Can it still produce offspring? Does its existence endanger other animals of the specie?
But why allow endangered species to be hunted and killed by trophy hunters? It is simply for the fact that trophy hunting is not the reason why the animals are endangered. The biggest threat to the endangered animals in Namibia is poaching. This year alone has seen 48 poached rhinos and those are only the ones that had been found, so the count might be higher. These animals have been killed for only one reason: their horns - the rest of the animal had been left to rot. Thousands of endangered animals are systematically being killed worldwide for only one of their features, Elephants for their tusks, Rhinos for their horns and sharks for their fins.
Although the Trophy hunter only takes home the head of the killed animal to mount on his wall, the rest of the animal is being used completely, meat for the community, leather to be sold further, nothing goes to waste. The money that he pays for the permit is used to protect the other animals from poaching and support local communities, paying game rangers, buying vehicles and such. However it is not only the money for the permit that the hunter leaves in Namibia, there is accommodation to be paid, the flights, the food and mostly a small tour, as it is a country worth exploring.
To hunt in Namibia you need a permit for every single animal you shoot. If a farmer wants to conduct a culling on his farm he has to apply for a permit at MET, they in turn send out someone to conduct a game count to determine how many animals the farmer is allowed to shoot. These animals are mostly springbuck, Oryx or other antelopes that are being shot for their meat and their hides.
As hunting is such a big money provider in this country, people have come to see their wild animals as valuable resource, which needs to be well looked after so it can grow and keep providing jobs to the community, thus ensuring the continued existence and thriving of the rhino, elephant and desert lion.