Killing to Conserve: Logical Solution or Money Grab for African Governments?

by koreilly3 on November 20, 2015 - 11:12am

Even though African elephants are on the verge of becoming extinct, certain countries in Africa are still allowing trophy hunting to continue. The trophy hunting industry employs a small fraction of the population and the money that is raised gets put into corrupted government hands. Zimbabwe has a program called CAMPFIRE that allows safari sport hunters to buy land from rural villages. Even though there is economic instruments in place, that is taxing unwanted activity, where foreigners can pay up to tens of thousands of dollars, much of this money gets re-distributed unfairly. When interviewed by CBS, rural villagers say they have never seen a cent of the money they are owed. Government officials say the money gets put into food programs and infrastructure for the communities, but proof of this is not evident. Here we can see conflict of interest about who should pay and who should benefit. The government believes they should keep the money to “help the economy” but the rural communities believe they deserve a fraction of the funds. The rural communities feel this way because they have given up their land and rights to hunt for trophy hunters to come in and kill their resources. In contrast to Zimbabwe, Namibia elephant populations have actually been increasing over the past twenty years. Trophy hunting raises about one million dollars a year and provides $75 a month to one in seven Namibians. Their logic is that putting strict rules on trophy hunting on the bought land from rural villagers will protect the species undoubtedly more than using the land for agriculture. To further reduce the trade of ivory, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has banned imported elephant trophies from Zimbabwe indefinitely. By enforcing this regulatory instrument, that is to use legislation to prohibit certain types of behaviour or action, they show that they do not support Zimbabwe’s method of conserving African Elephants even though there are limits on the amount of tusks that can be exported from African countries.

When I first read this article was shocked at how some African governments would allow the hunting of an endangered species to try and conserve the overall population. It seemed very counteractive to me. As I read through and saw Namibia’s argument that the impact of buying rural land to use for trophy hunting and ecotourism would be immensely less than if the land was transformed into agriculture where it is legal to kill an elephant if someone just says that it is a problem. This made sense to me. Its similar to fishing a species where there are strict regulations on how many individuals and when you are allowed to take and kill them. This allows for the population to be conserved and utilized still. Lastly, I wish the African governments were able to trickle more money down to the rural communities that they had bought the lands from so they can receive something for what they have given up. They are no longer able to hunt the wildlife that are essential to their culture and diet and need the money to find other sources of food.

Do you think Zimbabwe or Namibia’s efforts for conserving African Elephants are reasonable and achievable? What are your ideas on how the government could help repay the rural communities that they have bought land and hunting rights from?


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