Hunting is behind one of the most significant transfers of wealth to occur in US history. The catalyst for the transfer was the love sportsmen, and women feel for nature and wildlife. Hunters are on the frontlines of nature, watching and noticing when wildlife and its ecosystems are upset.
There was a time when hunters were some of the only witnesses to the unimaginable scenes of destruction. Wild nature turned into unsightly landscapes, polluted waterways, drained wetlands, levelled forests, and native grassland turning to dust. The worst part was the dwindling numbers of animals, birds, and fish.
Outrage turned to action, and the rallying cry of hunters everywhere became: PUT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ABOVE ALL ELSE! Thus, the American System of Conservation Funding was born.
It was avid hunters in the 1930s that insisted the government create an 11% excise tax on guns, ammunition, bows and arrows to build a wildlife conservation fund. They demanded hunting and fishing license fees go to state-based-wildlife and environment management. The duck stamp was hailed as a perfect solution to protect wetlands critical to waterfowl. Wildlife sports fees and taxes funded "Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration." These, "user pays, and public benefits" programs have been successful for over 100 years.
Facts from: "America's Sporting Heritage: Fueling the American Economy" a report from The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (2013)
Around the world, outdoor enthusiasts are passionate about preserving wildlife and natural habitat. None more so than hunters. Many of the brightest and most accomplished people through the ages were avid hunters and staunch conservationists. One of whom, was Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States who founded the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Hunting can form part of a healthy lifestyle enjoyed by those who enjoy and believe in the "local, organic, and free-range" food movements. Wild-game offers the ultimate free-range, chemical-free, unprocessed, lean protein available for a sustainable "earth to table" style of eating. The growing ranks of women hunters want their families to connect with nature and eat local and organic.
Hunting can provide a type of spiritual experience in pristine nature and the environment not accessible in their everyday life.
Hunting provides exercise, fresh air, the ability to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and family while in the beauty of nature.
On March 24, 2015, the "Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement" released an in-depth report titled, "America's National Wildlife Refuges: Good for Wildlife and Business." The reports revealed the National Wildlife Refuge System had more than 47 million visitors a year. They also boosted local economies with a 388% return on investment, for every dollar, $4.87 goes to the NWRS system. "More than $2.4 billion is generated by the 'Big Six' recreational activities on wildlife refuges. The main six wildlife-dependent recreational uses offered on most reserves include:
The National Wildlife Refuge System is critical to wildlife preservation:
It wasn't only in America that hunters and wildlife enthusiasts realized human needs and demands impacted wildlife and their habitat. Wildlife numbers reduced sharply or even eliminated in areas of large-scale commercial tobacco and crops farming for the international market. (Muir-Leresche & Nelson)."
Realizing the environmental downfall brought government officials, hunters, and conservationist together to find a solution. They broke the cycle of deterioration by introducing profitable, private endeavors like wildlife ranches offered hunting safaris, photographic and adventure tourism, and other game attractions.
Over the last 40 years, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana have experimented with privatized use of wildlife. The Southern African governments sold large tracts of land to private owners where game species could roam as they would in the wild. Africa's game enthusiasts wanted to preserve their natural wealth and began transferring personal funds into private game ranches.
Ranch owners provided fencing, security cameras, and rangers to secure the property and keep poachers out. Livestock farmers converted to wildlife operations and began to see significant financial gains on some ranches, "wildlife populations expanded in four years by as much as 50%." (Muir-Leresche & Nelson)
Since 2003, The Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) Conservation and Empowerment Fund has been promoting and supporting conservation and research projects throughout Southern Africa. It also supports the empowerment of disadvantaged communities and individuals. To date, contributions to the fund have reached more than 15 million rand (10.6 million dollars).
Hunter's Care was designed to consolidate social responsibility initiatives under the PHASA Conservation and Empowerment Fund, with the aim of, "providing a fuller understanding and account of the professional hunting industry's contribution to community development, food security, and rural education."
The funds go to building day care facilities, schools, clinics and even roads. The private game industry also creates jobs which support families and uplift isolated rural communities.
An overlooked benefit provided by professional hunting in South Africa is the contribution to food security. In rural areas, access to meat is expensive and not widely available. PHASA donates approximately 2.6 million tons of meat annually to schools, nursing homes, orphanages, and rural villages.
Hunting solves a myriad of problems from population control, disease prevention, and road safety, to name just a few. Modern society's negative attitudes toward hunting are rooted in baseless assumptions and ignorance about the sport and industry. Everyone should know how vital hunting is to conservation.
At Avula, we practice and promote ethical hunting. Our 3 lodges offer a unique experience for international hunters looking for a true African adventure. Take our quiz and find out what kind of hunter you are, and which of our amazing locations is perfect for you.