Wildlife officials and conservationists in some African nations have recently—and strongly—opposed a proposal by the European Union to ban the importation of trophies. Most notably, Zimbabwe’s Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said that should the proposal pass, it will be a major blow to the country’s hunting industry.
“These machinations have far-reaching consequences, perpetuating negative perception of Zimbabwe’s hunting industry. From this meeting, the emphasis is on community benefits and participation, as we try to lobby the EU. It is important that we clearly point out the losses that the communities will incur if sport hunting is banned.,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told The Herald.
Wildlife officials in both Zimbabwe and Namibia say that the funds raised by hunters are vital in paying the salaries of game wardens, managing wildlife, and providing modern benefits to rural communities. The European Parliament’s proposed ban on trophy importation could lead to a drop-off in hunters, which could mean bad news for the region’s wildlife management plans.
“If the EU was truly committed to conservation, then we would urge you to further investigate the evidence that demonstrates how hunting has played a very critical role in securing conservation, rather than threatening it,” said Lawrence Sampofu, Governor of Zambezi, Namibia.
The proposed ban in the EU comes after the shooting of a famous lion last year by a dentist from Minnesota. That incident, which was first reported as poaching but later found by officials to be legal, led to world-wide outrage and condemnation of trophy hunting by many on social media. However, sportsmen and women have long defended hunting in Africa as a matter of conservation. Not only do hunters take old or aggressive animals, but they also provide the necessary funds to keep many parks and wildlife reserves open. Wildlife officials say that if fewer hunters visit Africa, they will not only lose that funding, but also the framework behind their current wildlife management system.
“This therefore implores us to ensure that our actions and activities do not compromise the most vital stakeholder in the industry because any negative impact results in loss of benefits to these communities and mean loss of value of wildlife to them, a situation that will lead to increased conflict and poaching.” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri added.