In March, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began accepting comments of scientific and commercial information concerning the possible reclassification of the African elephant from Threatened to Endangered. The Service requested factual comments to see if there is any evidence to consider uplisting. Dallas Safari Club officially responded Tuesday, providing a litany of examples to show that when hunting goes away, so do the animals.
“As longtime supporters of wildlife and habitat conservation, DSC is glad to provide our insight and knowledge of the benefits hunting brings to African wildlife,” DSC Executive Director Ben Carter said. “We provided the USFWS with many science-based examples of successes and failures of different models of conservation. We hope that the USFWS can use this valuable insight as they review the status of the African elephant.”
For example, Kenya banned elephant hunting in 1977. With the loss of revenue from hunting to combat poaching, Kenyan elephant populations dropped from an estimated 167,000 in 1973 to approximately 27,000 in 2013.
Many countries lack sufficient funding to properly manage wildlife and habitat. In 2012, $68 million resulted from hunting in the sub-Saharan region. More than 40 percent of this money came from hunting the Big Five, including the African elephant.
Other countries rely heavily on the revenue stream generated by hunting. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority protects the country’s wildlife. For the last five years, approximately 50 percent of the department’s budget stemmed solely from hunting revenues. Without this influx of money, most countries will not be able to effectively manage their elephant populations.
The precedent for sustainably harvesting Big Five animals has already been set by other species.
In its comment, DSC quoted USFWS Director Dan Ashe as previously saying, “I want to be clear that lions are not in trouble because of responsible sport hunting. In fact, the evidence shows that scientifically sound conservation programs that include limited, well-managed sport hunting can, and do contribute to the long-term survival of the species.”
DSC also pointed out that Namibia’s black rhino population has more than doubled since 1990 and continues to grow approximately five percent each year, thanks in large part to sustainable hunting and increased efforts to combat poaching.
While Namibia garnered cheers in March for officially banning hunting bans within its borders, the move and others like it would merely be symbolic if the game species are banned elsewhere. As the USFWS controls the importation of trophies into the United States, its listing of elephants as Endangered would make it virtually impossible for American sportsmen to bring their trophies home.
DSC’s official comment delves much deeper into the issue and highlights both the benefits brought about by legal hunting and the effects of its banning. To read the comment in its entirety, click here.