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The Hwange Episode & African Safari

 

Zimbabwe, July 2015: an overseas hunter at Hwange National Park killed a favorite lion then left the country. The hunter may have paid as much as $50,000 for this adventure. The debate after this episode created ripples in the media throughout the world. The issues include: the nature or pathology of a trophy hunter, the environmental or policy aspects of wildlife hunting and the financial or revenue aspects for the country concerned.


How can we determine the value of rare or exotic animals considering the complex ecological or social issues. Permitting people to pay hefty sums to kill the wildest or rarest animals has been considered cruel and the larger implications may not have come to light globally without the Hwange episode. E.g. the politics or corruption such as conspiracy with local hunters contradicting the purpose of the permit.  Skinning animals or harvesting horns of big animals cannot be funny. Evidently the furor indicated an avid hunter with the biggest ego does not respect people or animals and need not get such permits.


For Nigeria and many other countries, there are lessons to learn. There are forest or game reserves and wildlife conservation centers in the country, some of which have been upgraded to national parks. Tempting as $50K might be, revenue from safaris should not be an over-arching concern for policy makers, but rather the bigger picture. Increasing literacy, creating jobs and providing better infrastructure can quadruple domestic tourism. The hotel industry may have improved a lot over the past few decades but travel and tourism remains hindered by the impact of Boko Haram, travel options or travel support services.





Alayande, J. F.  (MURP, Pi Sigma Alpha)

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