Klerksdorp Midweek, Potchefstroom - Trophy hunting is worth exceedingly more to the South African economy than thought before. A new study headed by Prof Peet van der Merwe of the research unit TREES (Tourism Research in Economic Environs and Society), in collaboration with PHASA (Professional Hunters of South Africa), has shown it can be as much as R1.98 billion if not more.
The research aimed to determine the profile of trophy hunters in South Africa, their spending patterns and the reason for hunting, their hunting patterns as well as the economic impact of trophy hunting on South Africa. The study further evaluated what the most popular species for hunting are and what species generated the most income.
A total of 362 questionnaires were completed by respondents on PHASA’s website to determining their spending on hunting for the 2015/2016 hunting season.
“Our research, which was mainly focused and foreign tourists or hunters, showed that hunters spend an average of 10 300 US dollars per hunting trip. That is about R134 500. The previous study we conducted in 2013 was not nearly as extensive and showed that that trophy hunting contributed R1.3 billion to the economy. Although a lot, we underestimated the value,” said Van der Merwe.
“It also means the market should also stop underestimating hunters. They are not unwise. They don’t want to be duped into a fake hunting experience, they want an authentic African hunting experience. With increasing competition from Namibia, the industry cannot allow missteps like these and must provide quality hunting packages and experiences. Therefore nature and authentic hunts are important.”
According to Van der Merwe, competition from countries such as Namibia is good for the hunting industry: “It is important that we keep evaluating our product to stay leaders in the industry. It forces us to keep our infrastructure up to standard and our product pure. There’s nothing as effective for marketing as “word of mouth” and by supplying a product and experience of the highest
quality it will stand us in good stead. However, that is not enough. The National Department of Tourism (NDT) does a great deal to market South Africa as a tourism and eco-tourism destination, but hunting is mainly marketed by the private sector such as product owners and PHASA. It is a selective market, but more can be done by NDT to support it. Hunting is a form of sustainable eco-tourism. Just look at the amount hunters spend compared to other tourists. It can also contribute more to creating jobs in rural areas. It is a lucrative niche market that should not be neglected. We can do more to protect its image.”
• Species hunted
The top five game species that were hunted in 2015/16 include impala, warthog, springbuck, kudu and blesbuck. The top five game species that generated the most income were buffalo, lion, sable, kudu and nyala.
• The most popular provinces for hun-ting
The three most popular provinces for trophy hunting were, in order, were: Limpopo, Eastern Cape and North West.
• Reasons for choosing South Africa as a hunting destination
The most mentioned reasons for choosing
South Africa as a hunting destination were: affordability, best value for money, the availability of animals and the variety of species.
The perceptions regarding safety in South Africa can prove to be problematic in expanding this lucrative industry. Although 92% of respondents view the game farm or hunting concessions are as safe, that number drops to 50% regarding airports, 47% for tourism attractions visited, 40% while travelling in South Africa and an abysmal 24% for cities visited. That said, almost half of respondents (47%) indicated that they did not hunt in a country other than South Africa in the last year (2015/16 season) and 79% said they would return.