What it costs to hunt game in South Africa

Following reports of a protected lion being illegally hunted in Zimbabwe, calls have been renewed to do away with the R6-billion South African game hunting industry.

Game hunting was thrust into the spotlight recently following the death of “Zimbabwe’s favourite lion”, Cecil, at the hands of an American hunter.

Cecil was killed, beheaded, and skinned after US dentist Walter Palmer shot him in what has subsequently been labelled as an illegal hunt.

Cecil, a protected lion, was allegedly lured out of a conservation zone, and killed on the surrounding land. The hunters who accompanied Palmer, as well as the land owner, are now facing poaching charges.

The incident has renewed calls from conservation groups, both in South Africa and abroad, to end wild game hunting.

The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (Phasa) issued a statement following the incident calling for a review of lion hunting.

Phasa president Hermann Meyeridricks said the campaign against trophy hunting has intensified around canned or captive-bred lion hunting, with those against the practice “no longer just a small if vociferous group of animal-rights activists.”

“Broader society is no longer neutral on this question and the tide of public opinion is turning strongly against this form of hunting, however it is termed,” he said.

“Even within our own ranks, as well as in the hunting fraternity as a whole, respected voices are speaking out publicly against it.”

“Phasa has to face the fact that the lion issue is putting at risk not only the reputation of professional hunting in South Africa, but its very survival.”

Bringing home the bacon

Despite the negative sentiment towards game hunting, the practice is a massive – and important – industry in South Africa.

According to a hunting indaba organised by the department of environmental affairs in 2013, the game hunting industry in South Africa brings billions into the local economy, bankrolling animal conservation.

In 2013, Phasa reported that resident hunting (including species fees and all other expenses) contributed R5.56 billion to the economy.

International hunting and taxidermy fees added another R1 billion to that total, not including other fringe incomes.

However, despite the economic benefits and conservation potential, game hunting remains a controversial topic, especially when put against the backdrop of highly-publicised poaching figures.

A rhino with her highly desirable horn. Thomas Snitch, CC BY-NC-ND

The cost of hunting

According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), South Africa has lost more than R1.3 billion to rhino poaching since 2008.

Around 3,800 rhino have been poached in the last seven years, with a plain sale value of a single living rhino at about R350,000. Phasa values rhino at over R550,000.

There are approximately 25,000 surviving black and white rhino in the country – but even endangered species such as these rhino are not exempt from hunting.

South Africa and Namibia are legally permitted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to sell five permits for the hunting of adult male black rhinos each year.

In early 2014, one such permit was auctioned for $350,000 (R4.4 million), for the right to hunt a black rhino. The $350,000 raised went to rhino anti-poaching efforts.

Palmer reportedly paid $50,000 (R635,000) to hunt Cecil the lion.

wildlife game buffalo

And other animals, too, have high values on their heads. Here are a selection of animal prices (including tax and permit fees) for hunters looking to hunt in South Africa:

Animal Fee (USD) Fee (ZAR)
Black rhino $150 000 R1.9 million
White rhino $50 000 R635 000
Elephant $42 000 R530 000
Lion $24 000 R300 000
Leopard $15 000 R190 000
Buffalo $14 500 R185 000
Roan Antelope $12 500 R160 000
Lioness $9 500 R120 000
Hippo $9 400 R119 000
Sable Antelope $9 000 R114 000
Crocodile $7 450 R95 000
Giraffe $3 800 R48 000

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What it costs to hunt game in South Africa