Trophy hunting in South Africa: is it worth it?

An evaluation of South Africa’s policy decision to elevate trophy hunting as a key conservation tool

Trophy hunting, especially of iconic or endangered species, is a controversial subject. Scientists are increasingly drawing attention to the Anthropocene – chaotic climate events directly attributable to human beings having overstepped a number of interconnected planetary boundaries. In this context, the world is rightly asking whether the legally sanctioned killing of wild animals can reasonably be tolerated. According to the latest IPBES Global Assessment, human activities are currently driving an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. At least one million animal and plant species are reportedly threatened with extinction (United Nations, 2019). Direct exploitation is the second most important driver of biodiversity loss. Given that trophy hunting is an obvious form of direct exploitation that undermines ecosystem functionality, and is hardly a requirement for human survival, its continuation should be plainly understood as a likely hindrance to conservation.

Good Governance Africa (GGA) was commissioned by Humane Society International-Africa (HSI-Africa) to conduct this research. The terms of reference were clear and impartial in that the objective of the study was to assess whether there was economic evidence in favour of promoting trophy hunting as a conservation tool for South Africa. We wish to thank the HSI team for its support and feedback on the document. All errors are ours, and for these GGA takes full responsibility.