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
March 17, 2007
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?