R15,456 billion: Private wildlife hunting means big bucks

The South African private wildlife hunting industry is one that should be treasured. This was again made evident by the research conducted by the research unit for Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society (TREES) at the North-West University (NWU), which was steered by Prof Peet van der Merwe, Andrea Saayman and Elmarie Slabbert. The research showed that the industry ploughs billions of rands back into South Africa’s economy.

The research aimed to determine the socio-economic impact of the private wildlife industry in South Africa, with surveys conducted from June 2022 to August 2022. Questionnaires were distributed online, garnering responses from 1 685 local hunters and 415 international hunters.

Concerning local hunters, 97% of the respondents were male, with an average age of 47, and 82% were married. On average, they participate in 2,7 hunting trips a year and stay 4,16 nights at their destination of choice. Their preferred provincial destinations were, in order: Limpopo, North West, the Free State and the Northern Cape.

The international hunters’ profile showed that 89% were male, with an average age of 57 years, 81% were married and they had hunted in South Africa at least three times in the past ten years. Their preferred province was also Limpopo, followed by the Eastern Cape, the Free State and the Northern Cape.

South African hunters each had a total yearly expenditure of R63 282. This figure took into account accommodation, transport, food, meat processing, hunting permits, fees and game hunted. With an estimated 200 000 local hunters, it can be deduced that they contributed about R12,65 billion to the South African economy.

On to international hunters. Not all their expenses occur within the confines of the country, for example, international flights, shipping costs for trophies and the purchase of items such as clothing before coming to South Africa, but adjusting for these numbers and taking into account pre- and post-tour spending, the amount per hunter per hunting trip that goes to our local coffers is R450 000.

Together, local and international hunters contribute R15,456 billion to our economy.

However, this is not where the benefits end.

More than 80% of local hunters believe that hunting tourism generates more income for the involved communities, that hunting tourism increases job opportunities within the specific hunting area, that hunting tourism improves the economy as well as the standard of living in the area, and that it helps to preserve cultural traditions for future generations.

Since the last comprehensive survey was conducted by TREES, the private wildlife industry has shown a R1,81 billion increase, although the rand/dollar exchange rate and an increase in living costs will have contributed to this figure.

“The private wildlife industry is not just an essential part of the country’s tourist offering, but also an integral part of our economy. Its value cannot be underestimated, and we must do all that we can to preserve, promote and expand it. As a tool for sustainable job creation and conservation we must utilise the myriad of opportunities the industry has to offer,” says prof Peet van der Merwe, a wildlife and ecotourism expert at TREES.

Now that is bang for the South African buck.

Submitted on Tue, 02/13/2024 - 11:57