Why Big Game Hunting is a Good Thing…For the Animals

Big Game Hunting has become a hot button topic recently. The Trump administration is currently weighing the option of allowing the trophies collected during big game hunts to be legally brought back into the United States.  When his initially decision to remove the prohibition was announced it was decried by citizens on both ends of the political spectrum who somehow equate hunting big game to poaching.  Or that they have some revulsion to hunting in general, yet have no issue eating a cheeseburger or wearing leather Birkenstocks.

After the initial backlash the President announced that he was postponing the decision until his administration could research the issue more.

What we are seeing on social media, the mainstream media and from anti hunting advocates are photos of dead elephants shot by hunters and the pearl clutching reaction of how “horrible and pointless” it all is.

Even actor James Woods got in on it when he tweeted the following:

There is a very important point that I am more than happy to explain.  Big game hunting is what is saving these animals from extinction.

You see, when a foreigner comes to Africa to go big game hunting its not like he just falls off the turnip truck after drinking a six pack of Budweiser and starts blasting every Dumbo he sees.

Before I go any further let me just stress that wild animals are NOTHING like Disney characters, so no, hunters are not killing Bambi’s mom, Dumbo, Simba or any other childhood fantasy that you may have.  These are wild animals, some of which would not hesitate to trample you underfoot or rip your face off and eat you.  Hippo’s alone kill on average 2900 people per year.

But back to why big game hunting is so vital for these animals, especially elephants, survival as a species.

When someone goes on safari to hunt elephants, a 15 day game license costs $20,250.  That’s just what it costs to be allowed to hunt.  After that, if you happy to take down an elephant the trophy fee can range from an additional $10K-$18,500.  So if a hunter goes on safari and shoots an elephant he’s paying around $40,000 to do so.  $40K can do a lot in many African countries but what it does most is PAY the African Anti-Poaching Rangers to patrol the wilds in order to ensure that these majestic beasts aren’t poached to extinction.  It also contributes to the scientific research done in order to ensure the herds of elephants stay healthy and strong and genetically viable.

As an added bonus, the big game hunters only take a small portion of the elephant home, be it a tail, tusks or even the entire head.  The rest of the animal, the meat of the animal is given to the local villages to feed them.  This is not some 19th century buffalo hunt where hunters cut off a tongue and leave the rest to rot.  Big game hunting FEEDS people and ensures that the animals stay around as a species.

And elephants are not the only big game that costs big money and thereby funds the conservation of African wildlife.

The following prices include the trophy fees.

If you want to hunt a white rhino the cost for a 14 day permit will be $66,790.

The cost for a 21 day permit to hunt lion or leapard will set you back $52,500.

For buffalo or sable antelope the price for an 18 day permit will be $26,100.

A ten day hippo permit goes for $12,245.

If you want to head over to New Zealand and hunt their giant elk, a five day permit will cost you $24,000.

To put it into perspective, the average salary of a South African Game Ranger is $450 a month.

Breaking it down, the hunting permit and trophy fees collected for 1 white rhino will pay a Anti-poaching game ranger’s salary for TEN YEARS.

If, discounting New Zealand elk, a big trophy hunter bagged a white rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, a sable and a hippo…just one of each…the money generated would be nearly a quarter of a million dollars ($236,235) or the salary of 44 anti poaching rangers for a year.

In reality, for South Africa alone, big game hunting produced over $112 million in 2013.

According to the South Africa National Parks Annual Financial Report for 2016, non hunting tourism contributed to only a fraction (single digit percentage) of the revenue that big game hunting did.  Once again the type of revenue that goes to land management, like ensuring the drought doesn’t kill off the hippos, that stops poachers from Mozambique from wiping out entire herds and so on.

So is big game hunting important to the survival to the elephants, rhinos and lions of Africa?  Absolutely. We should want American’s wealthy enough and inclined to, to be good stewards of the land and help the African continent with their land management and conservation efforts so that these majestic animals can survive for future generations.  Because without the big game hunter with their deep pockets paying the game wardens salaries, the poachers will win and these creatures will be wiped off the face of the earth.  Relegated to zoos and history books.

So I encourage President Trump to rescind the prohibition against African Big Game Trophies from being imported to the United States so that the animals themselves can benefit with survival.



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