In this week, I explore the theme of wildlife conservation and the tensions that exist between how people in the Global North tend to trophy hunting and wildlife conservation in the Global South. This is carried out in consideration of how trophy hunting and wildlife conservation is perceived and experienced by the rural people who live alongside wild animals in countries in the Global North.
Southern African countries of Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Zambia prefer both trophy hunting and photographic to derive tourism benefits and achieve wildlife conservation. Conversely, citizens in the Global North reject trophy hunting preferring photographic tourism. Western animal rights groups and anti-hunting organisations also reject trophy hunting, ivory trade, and related wildlife products from Southern African countries preferring photographic tourism.
Proponents of trophy hunting contend that the practice provides an estimated millions of dollars for the conservation of species in exchange for the hunting of a proportionally small number of individuals. Further, they argue that trophy hunting can create incentives for conserving habitat and ecosystems where hunted animals roam and, in some impoverished areas in range countries, can provide a means of income, employment, and community development.
Proponents of trophy hunting argue that legally, trophy hunting is regulated, and it is a component of wildlife management hence distinct from the illegal and unregulated poaching. Trophy hunting is thus regarded by others as having conservation value, acting to protect habitat and provide income for local communities.
Critics of trophy hunting contend that the practice can lead to the decline of rare and endangered species and that the pathway of moving funds from hunting to conservation can be fraught with corruption and mismanagement. Further, some contend it is unethical to kill animals for sport, or at all, and that animals should not be valued according to how much a hunter would pay to hunt them.
Contradictory, much of the debate on trophy hunting in Africa has little emphasis on local views and communities living in wildlife areas of Africa. Attention and urgent appeals for the hunting ban in Africa come from outside of Africa. Biodiversity conservation is historically constituted by a series of North-South disputes over its meaning and application.
The history of the North South dynamic illustrates a dominant repetitive pattern in thinking about biodiversity conservation where the North proposes, and the South reacts and adapts. In this regard, trophy hunting in Africa is under pressure as some Global Northern countries explore various policies that aim to put a trade embargo or halt trophy hunting in Africa since many people in the Western developed world view trophy hunting as unpalatable or unethical.
The voices of communities who live side by side with wildlife or live in wildlife areas of Africa are largely unheard in the debate over trophy hunting policy in the Global North. The hunting debate in the Global North largely excludes African views. Botswana is caught in between the Global North-South debate on trophy hunting and wildlife conservation. However, it is the people of Botswana who should decide the future of wildlife conservation in their country. Currently, this is the hunting season in Botswana and trophy hunting in the country is on decline hence a decline to the local and national economy.