Trophy animals underutilized (Namibia)


Ellanie Smit, Namibian Sun

Date Published

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During the past five years, Namibia’s hunting quotas for international trophies have been underutilised.

This is according to the ministry of environment and has expressed fear that the export quotas issued this year are likely not to be fully utilised again. 

An annual export quota is allocated by CITES and is a limit on the number or quantity of specimens of a particular species that may be exported from a country within a 12-month period. 
Of the 300 export quotas allocated for cheetah over the past two years only 133 have been used and only two export quotas out of the ten allocated, have been used for rhino over the past two years. One hundred and ninety-nine export quotas have been utilised for leopard trophies out of 500 since last year.

Namibia is allocated an annual export quota by CITES for 150 cheetahs. This includes trophies for hunting clients and the export of live animals under the strictest CITES restrictions. The country is also allocated an annual export quota for five hunting trophies for adult male black rhino, 180 tusks as trophies from 90 African elephants and 250 trophies from leopard. 

The ministry says trophies (skins) are allocated to crocodiles in Namibia. “Export quotas were not filled in 2016 and it is very likely that none of the export quotas will be fully utilised this year,” said the environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda.

Last year 88 export quotas were utilised for cheetah which includes both trophies and the export of live animals and 45 were used this year.

The ministry further confirmed that no export quotas were utilised last year for rhino, while only two have been utilised this year.

With regards to the export quotas for elephants, a total of 78 were used last year while 42 have been utilised this year.

There have been 130 export quotas used with regards to leopards in 2016 and 69 this year, while 17 quotas for export was utilised for crocodile last year and 10 this year.

“It is very important to understand that an annual export quota is not a target and there is no need for a quota to be fully utilised. In most cases the numbers of people who are interested to hunt specific species are less than the annual export quota.”

Furthermore, there are some cases in which it is likely that the export of specimens will not happen in the same year than when it was hunted in the wild, according to Muyunda.

It was further explained, in the case of leopards and cheetahs where hunting permits are not utilised, it is not always a case of hunters not finding these animals. “There are times when the hunters cancelled or postponed their visit to Namibia. However permits to hunt not utilised are renewable as long as it is still the same trophy hunting calendar year.”

The ministry also explained why there is few elephants offered for trophy hunts while there is a growing elephant population with increased human-wildlife conflict.

“We are guided by CITES for trophy hunting. We are given a total of 90 elephants for export purposes per year. Many of the preferred trophy animals of elephant bulls and the ministry do not want to disturb the sex ratio of our elephants by hunting too many bulls. Although we have only 90 elephants for export we also hunt elephants for our own use mainly in the north-east where there are conservancies. All this is part of population management,” said Muyundu.

The ministry added that it does not support the hunting of calves, except in the cases where a calf is declared a problem animal and a permit to hunt for trophy has been granted.

Data from the Namibia Hunting Association (Napha) indicates that in 2016 the average payment for an elephant trophy was U$13 296, while a leopard hunt reached an average price of U$2 210 and a trophy hunt for a crocodile was approximately U$ 1 321. Trophy hunting is a significant revenue generator for Namibia and specifically conservancies. It adds N$450 million to Namibia’s GDP via the private sector.

In conservancies consumptive wildlife use (which includes hunting and live game sales) generated about N$45 million.

According to government studies, hunting on commercial farms in Namibia generates in excess of N$351 million per annum and commercial agriculture, as a whole, provides employment for 27.4% of the Namibian population.