Tanzania is facing pressure to ban multimillion dollar trophy hunting in the face of escalating poaching.
Trophy hunting, the selective hunting of wild game animals, is legal in Tanzania. The outgoing director of the Wildlife Division Alexander Songorwa, says the industry raked in $75 million from 2008 to 2011.
Latest data are not yet out, but officials say the industry is estimated to have brought in revenue of over $50 million in 2013, up from $20 million the year before.
The increase is attributed to new rules that raised fees for hunting. In 2012, fees for rifle hunters were $7,500 for tusks of 15kg to 27kg, $12,000 for 27kg to 32kg, and $20,000 for ivory over 32 kg; in 2013, the prices went up to $8,500, $15,000, and $21,900 respectively.
Animals hunted include big cats, hippos, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos.
The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) says the negative impact of trophy hunting outweighs its returns; it is demanding that hunting be banned to combat poaching.
On the other hand, Tanzania Professional Hunters Association (TPHA) wants tour operators to be taxed more in order for the state to raise the funds required to equip an anti-poaching squad.
In a letter to the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, TPHA chairman Mohsin Abdallah proposed a “$250 park entry fee for Serengeti National Park, up from the current $60, plus a $50 concession fee and $150 mobile camping fee per day.”
Tato chairman Willy Chambulo argues that trophy hunting in the face of a crisis that could see the extinction of Tanzania’s Big Five at the expense of tourism is not practical.
Mr Chambulo argues that for every animal killed legally during the hunting season, another is shot dead illegally by poachers, amounting to thousands of animals killed every year.
“And no one can tell if the bullet killing our elephants comes from professional hunters or from poachers. In this situation, it is difficult to control poaching,” Mr Chambulo said.
Official figures indicate that the country is losing 30 elephants a day, or nearly 11,000 a year. Nearly half the country’s elephants have been shot, speared or poisoned since 2007, leaving just 60,000. At the present rate, Tanzania’s elephants will be extinct in five years.
The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute’s latest report shows that the giant Selous game reserve, a Unesco World Heritage Site that boasted 38,975 elephants in 2009, now has barely 13,084.
Wildlife tourism in Tanzania continues to grow, with more than one million guests visit the country annually, earning the country $1.82 billion, equivalent to 17.6 per cent of the country’s GDP. In addition, tourism provides 400,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians.
A law lecturer at Tumaini Makumira University, Elifuraha Laltaika, said if the community in and around wildlife-protected areas significantly benefits from the natural resources, they will fight poaching in a sustainable manner.