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SOS Rhino : In the News : Hunting is bringing in big bucks for Limpopo

Hunting is bringing in big bucks for Limpopo


Sharda Naidoo Business Day 1st Edition
Jun 12 2003

The province is determined to keep hunters who have switched from Zimbabwe because of turmoil

LIMPOPO is making a killing from the hunting industry, which is contributing about 70% to its total annual tourism revenue.

Hunting is now a multimilliondollar industry in SA's poorest province, with thousands of foreign tourists the majority of whom are Americans paying up to R350000 apiece to hunt the country's most prized big five animals.

Peak season is between April and September, when foreigners spend between 14 and 21 days in the province to hunt any of the big five animals or on average seven plains game.

Prices range from R4000 for one male kudu or impala, and between R2000 and R3000 for female kudu and bushbuck. A roan antelope costs about R80000, while an elephant or rhino is hunted at a minimum cost of R250000, depending on the tusk size.

Between January and December last year, 2061 foreigners from 42 countries visited Limpopo and killed more than 14000 animals, making it the largest hunting ground in SA.

Comparatively, just 9780 animals were hunted by foreigners in Eastern Cape, which has the second-biggest hunting industry in SA. In the same period 9000 foreigners hunted 34000 animals countrywide, turning SA's booming hunting industry into an R800m-a-year foreign exchange earner.

Fred Mulders, chairman of the Bosveld Hunters' Association, attributes the growth to political turmoil in neighbouring Zimbabwe, which has scared regular hunters away from the region's favoured hunting destination.

" Zimbabwe remains a popular hunting destination but more and more hunters are coming to SA instead. And, once here, they are hooked by the variety of hunts and other tourism products and are seldom lured back to Zimbabwe or other destinations," Mulders says.
Limpopo has more than 1800 commercial hunting farms listed with the provincial authorities.

The Professional Hunters Association of SA believes that twice that number of game farms exist in the Limpopo province.

The Limpopo industry employs 2025 professional hunters and hunting outfitters and thousands of jobs have been created to cater for tourists' other needs, such as adventure and safari excursions.

With an already established US market and an aggressive marketing drive under way in Europe, the province foresees unsurpassed growth in this industry.

Hunting could become one of Limpopo's principal economic drivers, says Dr Feltus Brandt of Limpopo's finance and economic development department.

" Limpopo has the biggest hunting industry due to the total number of game farms available and game stocks. The total swing away from cattle farming to game ranching is proving highly profitable," he says. Brandt says there are regulations in place that compel all professional hunters and hunting outfitters to be registered with the provincial government. In addition, they have to comply with strict licensing requirements and conditions.

" Though the industry is well regulated, we cannot guarantee that the actual hunt will come off 100% legally," he says.

Two types of hunting licences are issued: one for the domestic open season, which runs from May 1 to July 31, and the other is an exemption permit, allowing game hunting throughout the year.

Exempted farms are not subject to open season regulations and a permit is granted based on property size, fencing specifications, suitability of habitat for each specie type, an ecology evaluation and a stringent management plan.

For example, a 50ha farm is restricted to keeping one species of duiker and steenbok, while a 400ha plot can hold sable, roan antelope and giraffe.

Farms that keep the big five animals are allowed only three roaming lions during the year.

In the Waterberg region, where 70% of the land is utilised for hunting purposes, 150 open season permits have been issued this year, generating an income of R158000.

There are no figures available for private farms in that area.
Reinhardt Holtzhausen, a chief nature conservator in Waterberg, says the most popular game hunted in the Nylstroom and Bela-Bela area are impala, kudu, wildebeest, blesbok, common duiker, springbok, blue wildebeest, hares, bushbuck, rock pigeon, guinea fowl, Natal francolin and redwing francolin.

Gary Davies, CEO of Professional Hunters Association of SA, says foreigners provide high revenue and low impact.

The 14- to 21-day Big Five packages which are customised for foreigners cost between R315000 and R345000 (about R4500 a night for accommodation and meals, and minimum R250000 for one kill). This amount excludes monies for trophy work.

Local packages for plains game range between R3000 to R4000 a day, inclusive of vehicles, food and pick-up and drop-off at airport. It excludes payment for the carcass and trophy work.

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