Namibia’s international hunting benefits increase

Namibia Professional Hunters Association president Alex Cramer

Namibia’s international hunting permits increased by more than 600 in 2023, according to the country’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism official statistics.

“It’s estimated that hunters visiting Namibia constitute between 3% and 5% of total tourist arrivals, yet they contribute up to a quarter of the total revenue generated from tourism,” said the President of Namibia Professional Hunters Association (NAMPHA), Alex Cramer, showing that international hunting brings in much more revenue than photographic tourism. “These hunters are recognised for their generous tipping, which provides significant additional income for the staff and for purchasing costly gifts for their loved ones back home.”

He said that the funds raised from international hunting “are very important for conservation efforts.”

“They (international hunting funds) support game ranger operations, anti-poaching units, and community projects, underscoring hunting’s role in sustainable conservation and community development,” noted President Cramer.

“An example of how these funds are used is evident in the support for game rangers and, in light of the horse units funded by the Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF), dedicated anti-poaching operations.

“These units are essential in the fight against poaching, especially when it comes to protecting endangered species like rhinos.”

He continued, “We have the moral and ethical obligation to allocate funds to conservancies, wildlife councils and protected areas and to persons, organisations and institutions approved by the Minister (Namibia Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism), to be used in connection with projects and programmes regarding wildlife conservation and management and rural development and to support measures aimed at improving the relationship between people and wildlife.”

President Cramer said that NAPHA also supports improvements in the monitoring, management, protection, sustainable use and development of wildlife resources in rural areas.”

There are currently 56 conservancies that benefit from trophy hunting through approved tenders with hunting outfitters.

“The agreements between community and hunting outfitter, are usually a combination of financial gain to the community, employment for community members and the building of infrastructure like roads and camps,” said President Cramer.

Explaining the significance of international hunting revenue support to wildlife and habitat conservation in Namibia, President Cramer said that it “increases the economic value of wildlife, making it financially viable for individuals to engage in sustainable hunting practices.”

“This economic incentive is crucial for the conservation of wildlife populations,” he noted. “To ensure these practices are sustainable, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism regularly conducts game counts to monitor wildlife health.”

Unpacking the uniqueness of international hunting’s contribution to Namibia’s tourism economy, President Cramer said that in “areas of Namibia that do not attract many tourists, hunting serves as an important source of income.”

“Without the financial benefits of trophy hunting (international hunting), landowners might be more inclined to convert their land for agricultural use, potentially overlooking wildlife conservation,” he said. “Trophy hunting thus provides a financial motivation to protect and sustainably manage wildlife.”

He said that the specific socio-economic benefits that Namibian hunting communities receive from the international hunting “are usually a combination of financial gain to the community, employment for community members and the building of infrastructure like roads and camps.”

Employment creation is one of the important socio-economic benefits that international hunting continues to bring to Namibia.

“Hunting lodges, which often cater exclusively to hunting parties, provide significant employment opportunities and typically require more staff than agricultural farms.

 “Roles include cooks, cleaners, waiters, and laundry staff, among others.

“The employment impact of hunting lodges is substantial, as every employed individual supports at least three more people, thereby alleviating potential governmental support needs.

“This does not account for the numerous other roles such as assistants, camp attendants, trackers, skinners, cleaners, and taxidermists who are indirectly employed through the sector.”

International hunting brings significant conservation and socio-economic benefits to Namibia but remains threatened by the anti-international hunting lobby, largely from Western countries.

Explaining how Namibia protects itself against such threats, President Cramer said, “As you might have seen already, our Honourable Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta sent a stern letter to his German Counterpart (protesting Germany’s moves to ban hunting trophies imports).

“We are astonished to learn from various sources that the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection plans to “‘make the import of hunting trophies of animal species listed in Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) more difficult and in some cases, completely prohibited’”, said Minister Shifeta in his protest letter.

“We would kindly like to ask you for the basis of this intention and what kind of imports you specifically intend to restrict beyond regulations in place.

“The use of our natural resources is enshrined in Namibia’s constitution (refer to Art. 95 (1)).

“Some of the species listed in the CITES Appendices are abundant and/or increasing in our country.

“These include savannah elephant, black and white rhino, lion, leopard, Hartmann’s zebra, giraffe, etc.”

President Cramer said that NAPHA “is in close contact with the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in Europe and whenever such threats rear their ugly heads, we make an effort to contact the relevant governments and give them the facts.”

 The CIC is a politically independent, international, non-governmental advisory body that advocates for wildlife conservation through the principles of sustainable use.

Koro is a Johannesburg-based international award-winning environmental journalist who writes independently on environmental and developmental issues in Africa.

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