CONSERVATION and HUNTING
all peoples of southern Africa, hunting has always
been one of the most important livelihoods and nutritional
bases, which has hardly changed over the long term,
even from the beginning of European settlement.
Real overexploitation of nature only came into fashion
much later, when wealthy colonial officials, senior
officers and also the rich farmers and plantation
owners began to live out big game hunting as a sport
and empty entire areas in some regions.
well into the 1930s and 1940s, there were still
huge wild game populations, including dangerous
big game, in remote areas of South Africa, the League
of Nations mandate Southwest Africa, British Betchuanaland,
Rhodesia (Southern- and Northern Rhodesia)
and British Njassaland.
Buffalos on the Okavango - near Bagani / Namibia
big slaughter came later - just from the mid-1930s
and early 1940s. Because of the increasing population,
the higher demands, and of course from the pursuit
of profit. The commercial farms, and of cause the indigenous
herd keepers as well, needed land for their cattle. Nobody
can drive a flock of springboks to the train station
and load them onto livestock wagons. There was also
no realistic way to utilize the amounts of biltong
(dried meat) that would have been produced.
At the time, they simply didn't have the technical
capabilities and not nearly the infrastructure that
would have been necessary. There was neither the
technical nor the financial capacity to at least
partially use the country's game wealth commercially,
and preserve it thereby. Of course, large game reserves
and national parks have been established since the
end of the nineteenth century, but outside of them,
the big game almost completely disappeared from
huge areas of southern Africa.
contemporary people, who grew up well protected
in the affluent societies of the western world,
lack the experience of hunger and poverty. At this
time, however, only the offspring of a very small
upper class were born into a largely secure material
situation. First of all, you should be one of those,
who are able to afford a moralizing point od view. The
farmers and planters of that time mostly could not.
It was the government and its authorities that ordered
the complete culling of certain animal species
in some areas, such as has happend to the Knysna
Forest Elephants in the early 1930s.
a movement developed in southern Africa very early,
on that was committed to the preservation and recovery
of natural and near-natural habitats - even among
large, personal casualties. In the case of the Knysna
forest elephants, it was even the affected farmers
and professional hunters who stopped the complete
cull of the whole subspecies by buying land
at their own expense to set up a wildlife sanctuary.
Later, today's Addo Elephant National Park was created
out of that.
the same time, plans developed to reconcile the
idea of nature- and wildlife conservation with the
economic requirements and opportunities. This brought
another aspect into focus: the sensitive water resources
in the arid and semi-arid areas. The domestic game
consumes only a fraction of the amount of water
that is required in conventional livestock farming.
In addition, game does much less damage to vegetation
and soil. South Africa even pursued plans to domesticate
various species of antelope in the 1960s. However,
the attempts to achieve that, failed - for some
- the hunters and the hunted: Angola black-faced impala
in the Etosha - lions on the Okavango and Burchell's
zebras near the Nxai Pan.
what brought the game back to many regions from which it had partially disappeared over a hundred years ago?
addition to many other factors - including
tourism (see the comments on this!),
we owe this to technical developments, which also
created the economic conditions for that. Because
of the financial effort, to switch from conventional
farming to extensive farm management with game, is
enormous. And the requirements are strict: A prescribed
minimum area size per game, high game-safe fences
- at least towards the roads, and a biodiversity
that is adapted to the region must be guaranteed.
farmers, whose focus is on meat production, also
have the problem that the meat growth is by far lower
than in conventional farming. This is at least partially
offset by the fact that fewer workers are needed.
But in turn, exactly this is what causes problems on the local labour
The process is as follows: A diverse
range of game, adapted to local environmental conditions,
is released into the wild, and after four to six
years a specialiced company arrives with two large
trucks. One truck ist the slaughterhouse, the other
one is a cooling store. The game is shot as agreed
with the the farmer and processed immediately on
the spot. This type of game farming is particularly
common in southern Namibia and in some areas of
the Great Karoo and Kalahari.
This is where
trophy hunting comes into play, because it requires
a relatively large number of staff: in addition
to the farm workers and mechanics, hunting outfitters,
guides and assistants, people who process the meat
on site and prepare the trophies and those who bring
the venison to the market or sell from the farm,
kitchen staff, cleaners, waiters and bar people,
Hunting farms, where the
focus is on trophy hunting, can be found mainly
in the Kalahari, east of Windhoek and then north
of Windhoek - via Okahandja, Otiwarongo up to behind
Grootfontein and Tsumeb - and of course all over
South Africa in all provinces. Of course, locals
also hunt there - not just tourists. This is absolutely
necessary in order to maintain a natural structure
of the game population. But these so-called "meat
hunters" pay much less. However, because
they don't hunt the rams for trophies and therefore,
they settle with the farmer the meat only. Without
the local meat hunters, the farmer would have to
send his own hunting guides, or even professional
hunters. And: of course, the meat hunters are not
allowed to shoot "trophy holders"
... - but if they do, even by accident - it will
/ H.A. Bryden 1892
north of Tsumkwe / Namibia
protest the 2014 ban on hunting
types of game farms are part of the closely interlinked
interactions between environmental and species protection
on the one hand and the necessities of economic
development on the other. If even only one of the
two aspects is not sufficiently taken into account,
there is neither one nor the other. And another
thing: Species and environmental protection includes
much more than just protecting the local wildlife
- this also includes the protection of vegetation,
water and soil protection. Subsequent- ly,
all of this together, has in turn an impact on the
one would only consider isolatedly the protection
of game, which would actually be grossly unscientific:
Even then one would see that hunting - both, pure
meat hunting as well as trophy hunting - cannot
be taken "unpunishedly" out of
this complicated network of interactions. Botswana
is almost twice the size of the United Kingdom.
(So much only, to make the dimensions comparable
to our European guests.) But Botswana has only
about 2.2 million inhabitants, and even those are
too many people, to be able to assume that the balance
of nature will somehow regulate itself.
there is official hunting within the legal framework,
in addition to the hunting guests, professional
hunters, hunting guides and professional game wardens
are also on the go. There is virtually no poaching
in those areas. Botswana has had extremely bad experiences
when the government let themselves got talked into
a ban against legal hunting by various European
tour operators in 2014. One probably wanted to curry
favour to a well-to-do and ethically very demanding
the result was devastating. The professional hunters
and game wardens left and the poachers moved
in. Even the Army of Botswana - a disciplined force
that gets excellent training in collaboration with
the US Army and the British Armed Forces in Sandhurst
- was not able to master the situation. As a result
of that, the ban was lifted in no time. The professional
hunters, game wardens and trophy hunters came
back and poaching came to an abrupt end - at least
in those areas.
object of desire....
down by a hunting bow.
want to leave it at this for now. We will certainly
consider the various aspects of this topic - here
on our facebook account).
Experience has shown that above all, on tours into
the wilderness, you will witness hot discussions
- whether involuntarilly or intentionally. And thereby
very often you will be confronted with superficial
knowledge, which is sometimes presented with incredible
My advice: stay
calm and relaxed, ... - and above all, talk also
to the locals sometimes !