…Zimbabwe was down below 30,000 elephants in 1989, but today the population is about 110,000. CITES allows Zimbabwe 500 permits a year, or less than half of 1 percent of its population. Elephants reproduce at a rate of 4 to 5 percent a year. Because of the growth rate, Botswana has more than 130,000 elephants. Experts say its carrying capacity is 60,000. Botswana will be issued a quota of 400 elephant by CITES in 2010.
The plain fact is that Africa is a developing continent with a largely rural population that must, for lack of an alternative, derive virtually all of its revenue from natural resources. According to the World Bank, 60 percent of the Sub-Saharan African population lives on less than $1 per day.
African governments have increasingly recognized wildlife as a precious natural resource that can be managed through sustained-utilization, which is to say, hunting.
Even more telling, some African countries have tried bans on hunting. There are two examples of this: Kenya and Tanzania. Tanzania closed hunting in 1973 and reopened it in 1978 after poaching reduced its elephant population by over half. Once hunting reopened, the elephant rebounded to a current population around 125,000.
In 1977 Kenya banned hunting and has never reopened it. The costs have been staggering. According to the African Conservation Foundation, 70 percent of Kenya’s wildlife outside national parks has been poached out. Kenya’s elephants fared even worse: between 1979 and 1989, the elephant population fell from 130,000 to 17,000.
What does hunting provide? Two things: money and oversight. As we noted, rural Africans are poor and must eke a living from whatever means are most expeditious. Safari companies provide long-term employment to rural Africans. There are the immediate and obvious jobs, such as working in a hunting camp, but there are also anti-poaching teams, bridge and road building crews and game scouts who all derive a livelihood from hunting.
In Zimbabwe, hunting elephants alone generates $15 million a year, according to George Pangeti of the Zimbabwe Parks Department. And continent-wide, approximately $77 million will be generated from the 1,540 quota of hunted elephant set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for 2010.
In the 2007 hunting season in South Africa, 16,394 foreign hunters spent $91 million, according to the South African Professional Hunters Association. The association estimates that 70,000 jobs are created by South Africa’s game-ranching industry.
The elephant is another excellent example of the benefits of hunting. CITES was formed in 1973 as African elephants were being hammered by commercial poachers for their ivory. The elephant population in Africa dropped from over 1 million in 1970 to at least 472,269 in 2006, according to the World Conservation Union. Most estimates say the actual elephant population in Africa is around 600,000 today.
In 1989, CITES banned commercial ivory sales yet allowed hunted trophies to be exported. Once the ivory trade was stifled, elephant populations in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa bounced back. The countries without growing elephant populations today are in unstable regions, such as the Congo, where poaching is still a problem.
Zimbabwe was down below 30,000 elephants in 1989, but today the population is about 110,000. CITES allows Zimbabwe 500 permits a year, or less than half of 1 percent of its population. Elephants reproduce at a rate of 4 to 5 percent a year. Because of the growth rate, Botswana has more than 130,000 elephants. Experts say its carrying capacity is 60,000. Botswana will be issued a quota of 400 elephant by CITES in 2010….