Sunday, May 24, 2009

Zimbabwe: Sport hunting generates high interest from niche markets

Isdore Guvamombe

The Herald (Harare)
Published by the government of Zimbabwe
21 May 2009

Harare — The Sport hunting industry, which has risen from obscurity to a significant contributor to Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product, has generated high interest from niche markets in Europe and America, after Parks and Wildlife Management Authority floated a quota worth about US$100 million for the big four animals.

The big four are the elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard. The fifth big animal -- the rhino -- is not hunted since it is an endangered species.

The jolt of high-intensity amusement and leisure, sport hunting (shooting wild animals for trophies) has become the best bet that has, this year, attracted hunters from niche markets such as Britain, Italy, United States, Germany, Spain, Austria, Canada, France, Italy and South Africa, among others.

Parks have floated 500 elephants, 1 072 buffalo, 95 lions and 500 leopards for the 2009 hunting season which started in April and ends in November.

Thousands of smaller animals are also up for grabs in the same hunting season and could generate almost a similar amount of money.

However, it is the big four that have attracted the hunters.

Tour operators have recorded huge bookings from tried and tested hunters, so much that some of them are fully booked for their quota.

The actual statistics cannot be published for security reasons.

In an interview Parks and Wildlife Management Authority director general Dr Morris Mutsambiwa said 500 elephants, 1 072 buffalo, 95 lions and 500 leopards were on the 2009 hunting quota.

"It costs about US$25 000 to hunt an elephant over 15 days.

"It also costs a hunter about US$17 000 to hunt a lion," said Dr Mutsambiwa.

He said there had been a four-year moratorium on hunting in Matetsi and Gwayi Valley near Victoria Falls, which has now been lifted due to increased breeding.

"This year there will be lions in Matetsi and Gwayi Valley where we have been having a moratorium over four years.

"We had to reduce the number of buffalo on the hunting quota because of declining trophy quality in our herd. The indicators are that our trophy is getting smaller," he said.

In a country where 16 percent of the land is under wildlife -- 13 percent on State land and three percent on private land -- consumptive tourism is more interesting, especially to foreigners from Europe where most of the animal are in zoos.

To this group of people, hunting concessions are the best destination.


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