A leopard in a tree A survey has shown that most South Africans oppose trophy hunting - Media Credit: Adobe Stock

Nearly 70% of South Africans Oppose Trophy Hunting

A new survey has found that the majority of South Africans are against trophy hunting


3 Minutes Read

A growing number of people in South Africa are against trophy hunting, according to a new survey published in August 2022. 

The survey, conducted by IPSOS, found that 68 percent oppose the activity generally, up from 56 percent in 2018. 

Participants were also asked their opinion on the hunting of specific species. Researchers found that 65 percent were against canned lion hunting (up from 60 percent), while 64 percent disagreed with the trophy hunting of elephants, rhinos, and leopards.

Trophy hunting is a form of sport hunting, in which animals are seen as “trophies.” The animals are killed for fun, not for food, and people (mostly tourists) can pay up to $150,000 to take part.  They will then often take their “trophy” (usually the animal’s head) back home with them. 

Canned hunting has been described as an “extreme” form of trophy hunting. Animals are trapped in fences and hunted by humans in a confined area that they cannot escape.

“The government needs to take cognizance of the views of the public, especially when planning and putting into place new legislation and policy,” Dr Matthew Schurch, wildlife specialist for the Human Society International (HSI) Africa, told Plant Based News.

“Outdated practices like trophy hunting are inconsistent with modern views on animals, their levels of sentience, and their ability to feel pain and suffer.”

Trophy hunting in South Africa

Hunting animals for sport is a big business in South Africa. 

Trophy hunters spend around $250 million per year in the country, and the overall industry contributes around $341 million to the economy, particularly in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. 

South Africa exports 4,204 “trophies” per year. It is the largest exporter of mammals listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Africa, and the second largest in the world. Animals listed under CITES are protected against over-exploitation in international trade. 

An economic review of eight countries in Africa, including South Africa, found that trophy hunters contribute around 0.03% of gross domestic product. 

Experts have pointed out, however, that money made from trophy hunting rarely benefits communities.

Isaac Banda, Executive Officer of Mnkhanya Community Resources Board (CRB), previously told Born Free: “Trophy hunting only serves for a few people on the top. Very few individuals benefit from trophy hunting and it does not create any change for the people that live with wildlife and natural resources.”

Trophy hunting and “conservation”

Many people justify trophy hunting on the grounds that it’s good for conservation. South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) states that “regulated and sustainable hunting is an important conservation tool in South Africa.”

But this claim has been widely disputed. 

“Trophy Hunting is often touted as a way of providing funds for conservation due to the large sums of money that it generates,” Dr. Schurch explained. “However, as a recent report by Good Governance Africa has pointed out, this claim is based on ‘extremely little evidence.’”

Dr. Schurch highlights that the trophy hunting industry makes far less money than tourism as a whole, meaning “any conservation needs could be more than met through expanded non-consumptive tourism.”

What’s more, according to HSI, only 25 percent of the species hunted are managed with a national conservation plan.

South Africa further called into question the “conservation” argument earlier this year, when it announced that it would allow the hunting of 10 vulnerable leopards, 150 endangered elephants, and 10 critically endangered black rhinos.

Sign HSI’s petition to ban imports of hunting trophies in Europe here.

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The Author

Polly Foreman

Polly is the Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. She has been vegan since 2014, and has written extensively on veganism, animal rights, and the environment.

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John Nash
John Nash
28 days ago

These are not the beautiful animals in the huge national parks of South Africa – they are protected. 

A couple of corrections, PBN. The first is that all trophy hunted animals in South Africa (with the exception of some felines used for other things) are eaten. People in very remote rural hunting grounds welcome trophy hunters for that very reason – visiting trophy hunters employ locals, pay well and take home the skin, leaving the delicious meat (sorry vegans) behind. It is all part and parcel of trophy hunting and an important source of rural protein. It’s Africa. Everything is eaten. You don’t have to agree, but it is simply fact.

In many areas, far from shops, people have to grow their own food and a single elephant raid can destroy a family’s food supply overnight. In these places, elephants are looked upon as five ton garden slugs that are very dangerous that don’t take “no” for an answer. People are afraid to go out at night. If hunters didn’t hunt them (leaving five tons of meat), they will be poisoned or poached. There are perhaps 100,000 too many elephants in the southern range states.

Trophy hunting is a bespoke and exceptionally expensive holiday. The fees quoted are for a whole team of people looking after each visiting hunter personally, including a mountain of paperwork and permits, plus all accommodation, food and travelling, from arrival at the airport to departure. Fees include paying concession holders or farmers for the animals (that’s how they make their living), with the exception of baboons, monkeys, porcupines, hyrax, jackals, doves and other pests – farmers welcome shooters doing their pest control for them free of charge. Farms have to make a living. 

In South Africa, most hunting takes place on huge private farms and ranches where well over a million wild animals are raised for hunting and meat every year, but 3 million are born, so numbers increase, without donations or subsidies. It is a good use for poor, dry land. – raising wild animals in their natural environment is low carbon land use – low infrastructure, low input, low water, low pharma, low fuel and low impact. The average game farm is boring and has only a few big five species, so photo-tourists are not interested. That’s where hunters go. 

Thanks to trophy hunting fees, raising wild animals (for live sales, hunting and venison) in natural bush is slightly more profitable than raising cattle, so farmers in South Africa have re-wilded 40 million acres of bush. That 40 million acres of bush supports trillions of natural animals, birds, plants and trees that are not hunting, so it DOES contribute a huge amount to conservation. To replace it all with crops would kill off 40 million acres of wild animals. They are farms, EXTRA to the animals in the reserves.

The minimum area for hunting a feral (farm-born) lion is 2000 acres. It has to be fenced because they are lions. Every farm-born lion that is released to be hunted as a feral takes the pressure off the wild-born lions in the reserves.

Its not as simple as this pointless survey portrays, a pity, because its a fascinating subject. I’m not a hunter – I was a trader and prospector there.

John Nash
John Nash
27 days ago

Are you so confident of your doctrine that you need censorship of corrections?

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