June 12, 2020
While government approval for subsistence, or biltong, hunting, during Level 3 of the national lockdown has been widely welcomed, South Africa’s wildlife ranching industry continues to struggle financially due to the wider impact of the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Adri Kitshoff-Botha, CEO of Wildlife Ranching South Africa, said that while the country’s annual hunting season typically ran from around the end of May to the end of August, due to the national lockdown, the 2020 local hunting season only began on 5 June, when Level 3 regulations were implemented.
She explained that recreational, or sport, hunting remained prohibited during Level 3.
Boetie Kirchner, hunting affairs manager at the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters), said that although the association’s members welcomed permission for subsistence hunting, wildlife ranching operations were unable to achieve the full financial value that these hunts usually generated.
“[Subsistence] hunters now have to do their annual hunting excursions [alone], which severely influences the potential income to the hunting destination. Hunting in South Africa is normally a whole family affair [… with] all enjoying wholesome quality venison in the end. The limitation on non-hunters accompanying the hunters, leads to a much lower income for the hunting destination from the per person daily rates,” he said.
Kirchner added that, due to ongoing financial challenges, the owners of hunting destinations had largely kept prices for subsistence hunting “more or less” the same as in recent years.
This factor, together with the shorter 2020 hunting season, would probably result in fewer animals being hunted this year in South Africa.
This was not only financially unfavourable for the hunting destinations, but would also pose a problem for the sustainable management of excess wildlife populations on these hunting properties.
Kitshoff-Botha explained that local hunting by South Africans alone, the majority of whom were subsistence hunters, had contributed R12 billion annually to the country’s economy in recent years.
This excluded the approximately R2,1 billion generated annually through hunting by foreign hunters, most of whom were sport or trophy hunters.
“[To generate additional income for wildlife ranches] WRSA has proposed that day trips to private game farms also be allowed, which will provide South Africans who have been locked in for weeks, the opportunity to enjoy nature. [Non-hunting] ecotourism is one of the four fundamental pillars of wildlife ranching, alongside game breeding, hunting, and wildlife products,” she said.
Source: farmer’s weekly