Trophy hunting, or conservation hunting, as promoted in Namibia, has become a major debate globally with many people, especially animal rights groups, wishing to see an end to the practice. There was a petition to the European Parliament lobbying for a ban on the import of trophies from Africa. Conservationists in southern Africa are highly concerned about the detrimental effects such a ban would have on conservation efforts and rural development in Africa, where trophy hunting provides significant finance for conservation. The petition for a potential ban, which comes to an end today 18 April, seems unlikely to succeed, possibly because of informed pressure from indigenous peoples responsible for conservation in Namibia, who have presented a forceful case. Twenty nine Kunene conservancies met to write a letter, as did conservancies in Zambezi region. Below is the letter from Kunene
“To: Members of the European Parliament
We are representatives of 29 communal conservancies in Kunene, a vast area in the north west of Namibia. Here, we earn a living from wildlife: from trophy hunting and from tourism. Since Namibia’s independence we have been given rights over wildlife. We have now learnt with alarm that the European Union is considering a ban on the importation of hunting trophies.
We would like you to visit us and to see the wildlife in Namibia that has increased because of conservation, which includes trophy hunting. We would like to visit you and speak face to face. We are writing to you to explain why hunting is important to us and to conservation, and what will happen if it stops.
If hunting comes to an end the wildlife would decrease and we would soon go back to square one: poverty, no control, no reporting, and every man for himself. Poaching and human wildlife conflict would quickly increase. At the moment, with the income from trophy hunting, we are able to compensate farmers for crop and stock losses. With trophy hunting, which our government calls conservation hunting, some older animals are killed, but the profit goes back into conservation and our wildlife is increasing. We use money from hunting to create exclusive wildlife zones and to patrol them. We invest in boreholes for wildlife, making it possible for them to expand in arid areas. We invest in environmental education in our schools.
If trophy hunting stops, who will compensate us? Who will pay for game guards and conservancy managers to conserve and protect wildlife? Who will feed the old? Who will compensate farmers for stock and crop losses? And if we were to be compensated, wildlife would still suffer due to droughts, when culling for meat would be impossible.
We appeal to you to study the scientific evidence. We utilize wildlife sustainably, in the same way as cattle and fish. We ask you to visit us to inform yourselves. If we can travel to Europe to state our case, we appeal to you to listen to us. We have developed a conservation concept in Namibia that works for people and wildlife. Please support us to build on that initiative. We live with wildlife on the land. We are its true custodians, and we need your help to conserve our livelihoods.
Yours in community conservation,”