Is trophy hunting legal

Does trophy hunting help rhinos, elephants and lions?

The Erongo directory not only wants to criticize excesses, but also to advertise alternatives. The initiative awards a seal of approval and develops search engines for offers that meet their ideas of sustainable hunting. "For example, only species native to the region are allowed to be hunted, and the animals must be able to move unhindered from high fences," explains Kruse. In addition, at least one of the large predator species lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena must be present in the region. Otherwise there is a suspicion that the operators of the respective hunt have eliminated the unpleasant four-legged competition. And finally, there is still the right choice of prey.

Traditionally, trophy hunters prefer to target the animal with the largest antlers, the longest tusks or the most imposing mane. "But it's time to get away from that tape measure in your head," says Kruse. In order not to endanger the population, one should rather orient oneself on the social status of the individual animals. The guides on the tours recommended by the Erongo directory do not choose the lion with the longest mane for their hunting guest, but an old animal that no longer leads a pack. Because whoever shoots an incumbent lion chief, often condemns 20 or 30 other conspecifics to death. The advancing leader then tends to kill the offspring of his predecessor so that the females get pregnant again more quickly.

Money for protection

"If you take all of this into account, sustainable trophy hunting can ensure the survival of animal species," emphasizes Matthias Kruse. The lion in particular is no exception. For a long time, for example, income from hunting licenses was used in northern Botswana to compensate farmers for livestock killed by big cats. That has significantly increased acceptance for the neighbors on four paws. "Three years ago, however, Botswana stopped hunting for trophies, and so the compensation payments were no longer required," reports the hunter. "As a result, 60 to 80 lions have been poisoned in the last few months alone."

Such conflicts between humans and animals, along with the destruction of habitats and poaching, are among the most important sources of threat to wild animals in Africa and around the world. And if you want to take action against it, you need one thing above all in addition to commitment, specialist knowledge and patience: money. That is why the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN sees a well-regulated and controlled trophy hunt as an opportunity for nature conservation (PDF).

Because money can undoubtedly be made with it - and not too scarce. For example, if you want to shoot an African buffalo, you have to invest 15,000 to 20,000 US dollars; an African elephant costs around $ 80,000, similar to a lion; and one of the very rare licenses for a rhino is no less than $ 100,000.

That’s a huge amount of money. In 2015, for example, according to the IUCN, 62 white rhinos and one black rhinoceros were legally hunted in South Africa, and three white rhinos and one black rhinoceros in Namibia. That is just 0.35 percent of the rhino populations in both countries, but has generated several million dollars in sales. And that at least partially benefits the conspecifics of those killed.

So much can be earned with hunting licenses, the sale of live animals and tourism that more than 300 South African landowners have entered into rhino conservation. They have nursed their pachyderm populations to a total of around 6,140 white and 630 black rhinos and placed more than 20,000 square kilometers of land under protection. This corresponds to the area of ​​an additional Kruger National Park. Many of these private reserves, however, are absolutely dependent on the income from trophy hunting. Mainly because they have to invest more and more in the safety of the animals because of the massive rhinoceros poaching. In some countries, government agencies also finance urgently needed rangers and other anti-poaching measures from the sale of hunting licenses.