German hunters feast on Namibian wildlife
According to tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta, European hunters account for over half of the total hunting revenue to the country.
In 2019, a total of 5 001 trophy hunters visited Namibia for hunting. German tourists or hunters totalled 1 792 (36%), followed by 934 from the United States (19%) and 378 from Austria (7%).
The number of trophy hunters to Namibia declined to 871 in 2020, due to Covid-19.
Last year, the number increased again to 2 587. German hunters once again topped the list with 824 (32%), followed by the USA’s 775 (30%) and Hungary with 146 (6%).
With several European countries mooting an import ban on hunting trophies, Shifeta said such a move will be catastrophic for Namibia’s N$300 million hunting economy and its conservation programmes, especially if the European Union and other countries decide to ban their import and export.
He added that some initiatives are in process to ban the import of trophies into the United Kingdom, Belgium and Finland.
“Before these developments, France and the Netherlands also implemented restrictions and prohibitions on the importation of certain hunting trophies.”
According to the minister, over 90% of the country’s wildlife population occurs on private and communal land and Namibia has more wildlife now than at any time in the last 100 years.
As of 2018, an estimated 230 000 communal area residents, who make up 9% of Namibia’s total population, were members of communal conservancies, which have created jobs for nearly 5 000 people, he said.
Shifeta said communities generated approximately N$150 million in cash and other benefits during 2020 alone.
“About 30% of these returns were derived from conservation hunting, which includes what is commonly known as trophy hunting, while the remainder was from photographic tourism and other nature-based enterprises.”
Private farmland collectively hosts about 82% of Namibia’s wildlife population, he said, generating N$300 million in annual hunting revenues and employing over 6 000 people in rural areas.
“They also contribute to food security, as over 95% of the venison produced on these lands remains within Namibia. The economic contribution of the wildlife sector has overtaken livestock production and is an important part of our future adaptation to climate change in our semi-arid country.”
The minister further pointed out that the Game Product Trust Fund (GPTF) receives revenue from hunting and live wildlife sales.
Data from 2020 to 2021 revealed that GPTF spent about N$30 million on conservation programmes, 73% of which was dedicated to anti-poaching and other wildlife management activities.
Shifeta said the most economically valuable and least extractive form of hunting is selective, high-value hunting where an international client pays a premium to hunt older individual animals.
“This form of hunting removes just under 1% of the national wildlife population each year, against typical wildlife population growth of about 25 to 35% per year.”
In the case of slower breeding species such as elephants, typically breeding at 3 to 5% per year, the offtake is far lower, at about 0.2%.
Without a suitable alternative that fully replaces the income, employment and protein provided by conservation hunting in Namibia, people and wildlife will suffer, he said.
“We are being punished because we are doing well. These countries are jealous. We have already threatened to leave CITES [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora] if they do not listen to us and then we will see what animals they want to discuss as the largest wildlife population is in southern Africa.
“So, if some of us withdraw, it will have a huge impact on them.”