A report that analyzes literature on the economics of trophy hunting and reveals that African countries and rural communities derive very little benefit from trophy hunting revenue. The study, authored by Economists at Large – commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and Born Free USA/Born Free Foundation – originally came about in 2013 during consideration to grant the African lion protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“The suggestion that trophy hunting plays a significant role in African economic development is misguided,” said economist Rod Campbell, lead author of the study. “Revenues constitute only a fraction of a percent of GDP and almost none of that ever reaches rural communities.”
As a portion of any national economy, trophy hunting revenue never accounts for more than 0.27 percent of the GDP. Additionally, trophy hunting revenues account for only 1.8 percent of overall tourism in nine investigated countries that allow trophy hunting, and even pro-hunting sources find that only 3 percent of the money actually reaches the rural communities where hunting occurs. While trophy hunting supporters routinely claim that hunting generates $200 million annually in remote areas of Africa, the industry is actually economically insignificant and makes a minimal contribution to national income.
“Local African communities are key stakeholders for conservation, and they need real incentives for conservation,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director, International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Non-consumptive nature tourism–like wildlife viewing and photo safaris–is a much greater contributor than trophy hunting to both conservation and the economy in Africa. If trophy hunting and other threats continue depleting Africa’s wildlife, then Africa’s wildlife tourism will disappear. That is the real economic threat to the countries of Africa.”
Many species suffer at the hands of trophy hunters including the African lion. The number of African lions has declined by more than 50 percent in the past three decades, with 32,000 or fewer believed remaining today. The steepest declines in lion population numbers occur in African countries with the highest hunting intensity, illustrating the unsustainability of the practice.
“Trophy hunting is driving the African lion closer to extinction,” said Teresa Telecky, director, wildlife department, Humane Society International. “More than 560 wild lions are killed every year in Africa by international trophy hunters. An overwhelming 62 percent of trophies from these kills are imported into the United States. We must do all we can to put an end to this threat to the king of beasts.”
Listing the African lion as endangered under the ESA would generally prohibit the import of and commercial trade in lion parts, and thus would likely considerably reduce the number of lions taken by Americans each year.
“The U.S. government has a serious responsibility to act promptly and try to prevent American hunters from killing wild lions, especially when the latest evidence shows that hunting is not economically beneficial. Listing the African lion under the Endangered Species Act will help lions at almost no cost to African communities. Government inaction could doom an already imperilled species to extinction through much of its range,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president, Born Free USA.