Elephant hunting

Shooting an elephant with an .458 Winchester Magnum is about as heroic as shooting a barn, but trophy hunting can be a socially useful activity (via Café Hayek),

Sport Hunting Has Its Gains, Too
Karol Boudreaux

March 17, 2007

Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyans are debating whether the Government should lift its 30-year ban on trophy hunting. While the talk continues, the elephant population in Kenya continues to drop.

Meanwhile, elephant populations in countries such as Namibia and South Africa are increasing, a resurgence that is due surprisingly, in part, to trophy hunting. More importantly, our research in Namibia has found that as elephant populations rebound, so do the fortunes of the people.

What can Kenya learn from Namibia?

In the early 1990’s, the Namibian government instituted a policy known as Community -Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). CBNRM gives people who live on communal land the rights to manage wildlife and to build businesses based on ecotourism and similar activities.

While trophy hunting is a major source of cash income for conservancies, other forms of direct wildlife utilization provide important cash and noncash benefits for conservancy members.

In 2005, there were 12 trophy hunting concessions across 16 Namibian conservancies, providing approximately US$495,000 in income to conservancies, making trophy hunting the second highest source of income for conservancies.

In Namibia’s programme, the ministry of Environment and Tourism sets quotas to hunt threatened or problem animals. Conservancies that have these quotas can then contract with professional hunters, who bring paying hunters to the area to track and shoot the animals. In the contracts, conservancies can specify what benefits trophy hunting will give the conservancy and its members beyond just income.

The Namibia Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisation (NACSO) reports that by providing some jobs, income, and meat to conservancy members, trophy hunting can “strengthen local support for wildlife and conservancies because people see the link between wildlife and conservation in the form of a tangible, immediate benefit.” Strengthening these links is vital for countries seeking to protect endangered species…

For another view, see this statement (pdf),

Statement on Elephant Culling
We, the undersigned, comprise a group of elephant researchers working together to study elephants and promote their conservation and welfare. Our combined experience represents over 200 years of work with free-ranging, wild African elephants. We are acknowledged leading experts in the field.

It is our considered opinion that killing elephants to reduce local population density (‘culling’) is unnecessary, unimaginative and inhumane. Culling is also, in most situations, either ineffective or retrogressive in achieving ecosystem management objectives…

In summary, we believe that culling is, from an ecological point of view, unnecessarily destructive and invariably unjustified and from a social, behavioral and cognitive point of view, unethical.

The latter statement does not, of course, address incentives for conservation. If you were an African farmer, and your family’s food supply was threatened by elephants invading your fields and possibly killing your children, why should you be in favor of elephant conservation?


5 thoughts on “Elephant hunting

  1. Namibia’s elephant population has doubled in 10 years to more than 20,000. A stable government, local empowerment and community-based conservation, and strike limitations on ivory exports probably are the reason.

  2. I was born in Africa. When I was 7, I was standing on the banks of the Zambezi watching the moon rise with my brother. As we were walking back to the cabin we saw big shadows moving around us. We were in a heard of elephants. We stood still and heard them wander past us. Magnificent animals? Yes.
    I have also seen hundreds of Kudu dead at their hands (trunks). In the dry season they eat the leaves on the trees. The trees produce talc with makes their leaves indigestible. The Kudu die with full bellies. The reason is that there are to many Elephants in the area and they cannot migrate because of human encroachment.
    That leaves us humans with three choices.
    Choice 1: Continue our lives, don’t control the elephant population and watch them destroy the habitat and eventually themselves.
    Choice 2: Continue our lives, control the elephant population (sport hunting) and watch them live a healthy life style in their natural habitat.
    Choice 3: Pull down the fences, end the lives of the human race and leave the elephants to populate the earth as nature (survival of the fittest) intended.
    What is in your best interest?

  3. Elephant are one of the most magnificent creatures ever to walk our earth. They must be allowed to repopulate areas in which they historically have lived and within which they can now live without encroaching upon human interests. The best method for promoting this goal and providing adequate benefit to their human neighbors is through a well managed system of sport hunting. Sport hunting places a quantifiable monetary value on them and thus a benefit to the human population of the area. In short, it pays to have elephants and other game thrive in a healthy eco-system. Bring hunting to Uganda, Angola, Ethiopia, Niger, and any other areas where wildlife has suffered. Re-instate it in Kenya to provide for the people and thereby to the animals themselves. As distasteful as hunting is to some it is the most useful tool in cultivating healthy populations of free roaming game in disadvantaged regions.

  4. It is because I dearly love animals that I would much rather have some of the elephants, white rhinos, lions, leopards, various species of antlelopes, cheetahs, and other species of African wildlife get taken in ecologically sustainable trophy hunts. Rather than abolish sport hunting and force the local people, who live in typical African villages, into poaching and habitat destruction for survival, and cause the extinction of all of Africa’s wildlife!

    I hope that such seriously endangered African wildlife species, such as black rhinos and and African wild dogs someday to rebound to numbers where these species could also be taken in ecologically sustainable trophy hunts.

    I am not a hunter myself. But as an American, it outrages me how hunters, in my own country, of deer, moose, elk, etc., are among the ignorant morons who wrongfully condemn the ecologically necessary trophy hunting in Africa! It is not just animal-rights fanatics who are among the ignorant dopes who have not studied the ecological situation in Africa, much less than actually travel to Africa and find out for themselves what it is like there.

    If India, shortly after gaining independence from Great Britain, had set up programs of sustainably hunting tigers to benefit the local villagers, the seriously endangered tiger, would instead be a flourishing species, instead.

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