“Some people have a problem with hunting, but I have to be open – people have to understand that hunting is part of our conservation programme” – the words of Namibia’s former Minister of Tourism and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah at the opening of the recent World Adventure Travel Summit in Namibia. By any standard, Namibia is forging ahead as a leading destination in the world of conservation beset with many of the challenges under-developed African countries are also faced with. Yet, words from the top of the government that hunting forms a part of their program could not be more plainly put.

Do we all have to like it or engage in the practice of hunting? No. And this is where people are missing something. All we ask is that due consideration is given to review the facts. Avoid jumping to any end of the emotional spectrum. Whether the rhino has passed its prime or not, the concept of sustainable utilization, or harvesting – the term used by some – is what we’re talking about. This ‘bloodlust’, ‘love of the great outdoors’, ‘answering the call of some primitive instincts’, whatever one wants to label the activity of hunting, given its correct management, it has never negatively affected the wildlife population. It has only benefited. And there are countless examples, right here in South Africa being probably the best.

How the animal is removed from its population is the issue for many, and that, quite honestly, can be understandable and disturbing for some.

What the proceeds of sustainable utilization can offer is in little dispute, and congratulations to Namibia for having such an overt stance on the subject. The ‘million-dollar’ black rhino auctioned at Dallas Safari Club is about as good an example as you will get anywhere.

South Africa, on the other hand, having lead the world’s white rhino recovery largely as a result of the value attached to the species, is slow as a nation to take a public stance on the subject, despite it being legal! A few years ago, Pilanesberg sold of one of their black rhinos for a little under R2million, and yet even today, our Ministry devotes not a cent to the promotion of hunting.

South Africa is the largest hunting destination in Africa, more than the rest of Africa combined, and still has the potential to double its numbers. The growth of land under conservation, directly as a result of private game management ( which includes hunting) – and largely, unfortunately, by white farmers – is not only outstripping State ownership but appears to be the only hope for the future growth and security of biodiversity management.

Rhino breeders, some of whom have more rhino than most of the countries in Africa where they once roamed free, have long held the view that the only solution is to lift the trade in rhino product. Why? Simply put, when an animal can produce a commodity that is valuable, be it a cow, mink or rhino, there is little or no chance of it going extinct. People are driven by money and will do what they can to not only keep the rhino alive, but to get them reproducing. That is the basic law of supply and demand. Sure, some will argue that these animals are not in the wild. That may be so, but they could be, as part of the program, and for certain, if their numbers keep increasing, they will not go extinct – which, after all is the number one objective.

Richard Lendrum – Publisher African Hunting Gazette