Profits from the hunting of big game in Africa are essential for animal conservation projects, a leading authority has said./ Picture source: huntinginafrica

Trophy hunting provides crucial funding for animal conservation projects, leading wildlife conservationist says

PROFITS  from the hunting of big game in Africa are essential for animal conservation projects, a leading authority has said.

German businessman Wilfried Pabst, who owns Mozambique’s Sango wildlife conservancy, has told how he depends on cash from hunting.

He said that trophy hunting provides about 60 per cent of the money needed each year to keep Sango operating while 30 per cent comes from his own pockets.

Pabst, who purchased Sango in 1993 and opened its doors 10 years later, said: “In remote places and countries with a weak tourism industry and a high unemployment rate, it is very difficult – or almost impossible – to run a conservancy like Sango without income from sustainable utilisation – in other words the use of wildlife for hunting or trophy hunting.”

Over the next six years, Pabst will donate 6,000 large mammals from Sango to Zinave national park in Zimbabwe as part of the Peace Park Foundation’s programme to restore wild animals to a vast tract of land in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier conservation area (TFCA).

He says without the proceeds from trophy hunting such gifts would not be possible.

Pabst say he is not making any revenue from the donation of 6,000 mammals but views it as a part of Sango’s commitment to wildlife conservation in Africa.

The funding for transporting the animals, which includes a small army of veterinarians, rangers, ecologist, truck drivers and helicopter pilots, is coming from the Peace Park Foundation.

He insists that Sango couldn’t survive without trophy hunting claiming that if it were suddenly outlawed in Zimbabwe – as some organisations campaign for – his operation “would run out of money within months and most of the 200,000 animals will be poached probably within one year”.

Sango keeps a close track of its animals.

Depending on the species, Sango allows hunting of approximately between 0.2-1 per cent of an animal’s total population annually.

“Sustainable hunting means it will neither hinder the growth, nor allow any given species to fall below ecologically sustainable numbers,” Pabst explained.

“This is a highly complex issue and very difficult to understand for a non-conservationist operating in Africa.”

In total, Pabst says around 200 animals are hunted in Sango annually – or one 10th of one per cent  of the park’s estimated 200,000 mammals.

“These regulations and their strict control at Sango is the key factor of successful management through sustainable use which now allows us to donate 6,000 of our animals to Zinave,” he added.

The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), a global not-for-profit organisation that advocates for conservation and hunting, says that “hunting tourism” is an important tool to combat one of the biggest threats to African wildlife: poaching.

They argue that so long as local communities benefit in some way from hunting funds – through jobs, payouts, or developing projects – they are far less likely to poach wildlife such as elephants and lions that they view as dangerous or destructive to their livelihood.

Pabst say Sango is “living proof” that trophy hunting can support broad conservation projects.

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