The South African Wildlife Conservation Success Story.
Hunting is such a controversial issue and unfortunately the uninformed public and animal rights activists are quick to condemn and determined to destroy an industry they know very little about. They are unaware of how much hunting contributes to conservation and chose to focus on the emotional side of things. To try and shed some light on the hunting industry and its indispensable role in conserving our wildlife for future generations to enjoy, we will be posting interesting articles and write-ups that will hopefully, at the very least, make people think twice about condemning an industry that has contributed tirelessly to countless successful and on-going conservation initiatives. An industry that has ensured that South Africa's wildlife conservation story has been a remarkable success!
Our Conservation Success Story
South Africa’s wildlife and conservation success story is unparalleled anywhere in the world. The safari hunting industry played a pivotal role in this since day one and will continue to do so indefinitely! In 1964 we had approximately 575 000 wild game animals countrywide. During the 1960’s safari hunting and game ranching were mere fledglings in South Africa but the fact of the matter is that hunting started to place a value on wildlife and wild areas, creating a direct incentive to purchase, own, protect and conserve it. It had become a viable investment. As the safari hunting industry began to grow, and with it the demand for South Africa as a destination, more and more land was converted from agriculture to wildlife.
Today we can boast a wildlife population of close to 19 million head of game. Some species such as white rhino (of which there are currently more than 5 000 on private land), black wildebeest and bontebok, were brought back from the brink of extinction. Our sable and roan populations are again healthy and growing, and are mostly found on private land today. Species are constantly being re-introduced into areas where they had become locally extinct. There are currently more than 10 000 privately owned game ranches in South Africa, predominantly in marginal agricultural areas, covering an estimated 20,5 million hectares of land. To put it into perspective: private enterprise owns three times more land, managed under hugely successful and effective conservation programmes, than all the state-owned parks and reserves combined.
The wildlife industry as a whole, which includes professional hunting, contributes approximately R8 billion to South Africa’s economy each year. This is more than the income derived from sugar cane, dairy and many other major agricultural commodities, and we believe that this figure is understated.
Today we have more international hunting tourists travelling to South Africa each year than any other country on the continent. The South African conservation success story is based on the sound principle of “sustainable utilisation”, of which “responsible hunting” forms a major part. A simple comparison is Kenya, a country that has lost 85% of its wildlife since terminating all hunting in the late 1970’s.