Safari operators see revenue dipping by around 10 to 15% in the 2013 hunting season owing to rampant poaching that has resulted in the death of more than 90 elephants as well as the disputes in the Save Conservancy, an official of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe (Soaz) said.
More than 100 elephants have been slaughtered by poachers who poisoned them with industrial cyanide last month. Eight suspects were arrested in connection with the incident.
Soaz chairman Emmanuel Fundira told businessdigest this week that this year’s hunting season which runs between April and November, will suffer a projected dip of between 10 and 15 % in revenue as a result.
“The hunting season is not as great as it should be,” Fundira said.
“The rampant poaching has not helped in allowing undisturbed hunting.”
He added that poaching which has prompted national outrage, will compromise the quality of the hunted trophy.
He said this was aggravated by the Save Conservancy dispute which has not yet been fully resolved. Last year lucrative safari landholdings in the Save Valley Conservancy, the largest private wildlife sanctuary in the world, were taken over by new landowners, mainly Zanu PF bigwigs.
Fundira revealed they had accrued a total income of US$30 million for the 2012 season, which exceeded their expectations and represented an incremental improvement.
He said the peaceful environment that prevailed during the harmonised elections this year had helped counter the negative perceptions in the country’s source markets.
The successful co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly with Zambia in August also helped boost the photographic side of the safari industry.
He said the bookings for photographic safari had increased partly due to the successful hosting of the general assembly.
Fundira said there was a merging market from Eastern Europe for the safari industry alongside the traditional source markets which include the United States and Western Europe.