Rural Namibians respond to hunting campaigns - Current Conservation
In an article published in Current Conservation, authors Gail C Thomson and Lesle Jansen offer a perspective on the hunting debate – and specifically the controversy around trophy hunting – drawn from a study conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Namibia.
When preparing their Elephant Management Plan in 2020, the Namibian government sought to capture some of the views from their rural communities on elephants—specifically on how to manage them and what to do about trophy hunting:
“The consultations for this plan therefore included many meetings with communal conservancies: community-based institutions that have been granted conditional ownership rights over wildlife that occur within their jurisdiction (their boundaries are mapped, but not fenced). Between meetings, people from the conservancies were interviewed in small groups using a questionnaire relating to elephant management
“Most of the respondents were part of the daily management (staff members, including field staff) or oversight (committee members) of their communal conservancy. As residents and managers in conservancies, these interviewees have both first-hand experiences of living with wildlife and a detailed understanding about how hunting works in their conservancies. In our experience, when rural Africans are given a chance to speak their truth they are forthright and insightful; the transcripts from these interviews did not disappoint!” Among the many elephant-related questions, interviewees were asked what would happen if elephant hunting were banned entirely and what they would like to say to anti-hunting campaigners if they were given the opportunity. These are some of the replies:”
“Southern Africa is the last great stronghold for savannah elephants, where they are not only surviving, but thriving”, the authors explain. “Yet healthy, growing elephant populations are not easy to live with, as people in parts of Namibia can attest. The global public places great value on this large mammal, yet conserving it comes at substantial cost to local people. The practice of trophy hunting currently plays an important role in reducing that cost and providing at least some reason for African people to bear it. Those wanting to ban elephant hunting need to present suitable alternatives—not theories that sound good to other people who sit in offices far from African reality, but real income-generating options that work for the people who live with elephants.”
Resource Africa supports rural African community efforts to secure their rights to access and use their natural resources in order to sustain their livelihoods. The interviews presented here were used with permission from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism in Namibia.
Neither of the two authors or Resource Africa have any financial links to the trophy hunting industry.