An economic study released on the first day of Safari Club International’s (SCI) annual convention in Las Vegas finds that trophy hunters have grossly overstated the contribution of big game hunting to eight African economies and that overall tourism in Africa dwarfs trophy hunting as a source of revenue.
The new report, commissioned by Humane Society International and conducted by Economists at Large, finds that in Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, trophy hunting brings in just 0.78 percent or less of the overall tourism spending and has only a marginal impact on employment in those countries, providing approximately 0.76 percent or less of overall tourism jobs. The total economic contribution of trophy hunters is at most an estimated 0.03 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
As the trophy hunting advocacy group gathers in Las Vegas this week for its 2017 Annual Hunters’ Convention, the Economists at Large/Humane Society International analysis directly refutes a 2015 report commissioned by SCI that vastly exaggerated the economic contribution of trophy hunting in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has often been cited by trophy hunters attempting to defend their ‘pay to slay’ activities. The analysis from Economists at Large identifies serious methodological flaws in SCI’s previous claims.
Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist for Humane Society International, says: “For too long, trophy hunters have tried to justify their activity by falsely claiming that their killing helps local economies. As this new report shows, those claims are a sham. In the African countries studied, trophy hunting contributes virtually nothing to local economies or jobs, and is dwarfed in comparison to tourism overall, including eco-safaris reliant on the very animal species whose populations hunters decimate. It’s time to stop pretending that slaughtering big game and posing for morbid selfies by their slain bodies is anything more than killing for kicks.”
Findings from the report include:
- While overall tourism in the eight study countries is between 2.8 percent and 5.1 percent of GDP, the total economic contribution of trophy hunters is, at most, an estimated 0.03 percent of GDP. As the report’s author explains: “In terms of the wider tourism economy, which relies heavily on wildlife resources, trophy hunting is relatively insignificant.”
- Trophy hunting brings in less than $132 million in tourism spending to the eight study countries out of $17 billion annual tourism spending, or just 0.78 percent. SCI wrongly alleged that trophy hunting-related tourism contributes $426 million annually.
- Trophy hunting has only a marginal impact on employment in the eight countries, estimated between 7,500-15,500 jobs. Even when using inflated SCI estimates of direct employment contribution from trophy hunting (19,733 jobs), this is still only 0.76 percent of 2,589,000 average jobs generated by overall tourism.
- Non-hunting tourism industry is growing much faster and has a much brighter future in Africa. Between 2000 and 2014, overall tourism spending in the eight study countries grew every four months by as much as the annual claimed direct value of the entire trophy hunting industry ($326 million).
- Foreign trophy hunters make up less than 0.1 percent of tourists in the studied region.
- Non-trophy hunting tourism employs 132 times more people than trophy hunting.
- The average increase in tourist arrivals over 54 days in Namibia and 60 days in South Africa exceeded the total annual foreign trophy hunter arrivals. The growth over a year in general tourist numbers is about six times larger than a year’s worth of hunting tourists.
- Because trophy hunting is a tiny part of overall tourism sector, with little scope for sustained future growth, even a small effect of trophy hunting deterring growth in other tourism uses (like eco-tourism) may overwhelm its own economic benefits.
- As well as being cruel, trophy hunting is detrimental to conservation because:
- hunters kill the strongest animals that are critical to strengthening the gene pool
- hunting quotas are frequently set without a solid scientific basis
- age restrictions for hunted animals are ignored so that, for example, lions are killed as juveniles before they can contribute to the genetic pool
- corruption prevents trophy hunting funds from making it to conservation
- U.S.-based SCI is one of world’s largest pro-trophy hunting organizations with 50,000 members. It keeps a record book of kills and offers awards in dozens of categories, such as Bears of the World, South American Indigenous Animals, and the World Hunter of the Year for which a hunter must kill more than 300 animals across the globe.
- SCI’s 2017 convention features more than 900 international hunting outfitters and will auction off almost 1,000 mammals in global hunts valued at over US$5.3 million. In 2015, this convention brought in nearly US$14.4 million. Some of the most shocking SCI 2017 auction items offer up a Canadian polar bear (hunt valued at USD $72,000) and two Namibian elephants (hunts valued at USD $25,000 and USD $35,000) for the slaughter.
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