“Before, when there was hunting, we wanted to protect those animals because we knew we earned something out of them.” That’s the story a man from a small village in Botswana told the New York Times; his country banned trophy hunting two years ago. How have the animals managed since?

“Now we don’t benefit at all from the animals,” he continues. “The elephants and buffaloes leave after destroying our plowing fields during the day. Then, at night, the lions come into our kraals.”

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The story puts a fine point on the often nuanced and counter-intuitive nature of trophy hunting as it exists across the corrupt and often troubled nations of Saharan Africa.

“Where trophy hunting benefits communities, locals are more motivated to protect wild animals as a source of revenue, experts say. But in most places without trophy hunting, they are simply considered a nuisance or danger, and locals are more likely to hunt them for food or to kill them to defend their homes and crops.”

Like most things in this part of the world, hunting doesn’t always work as intended and too often directs its revenues to the already-wealthy, rather than developing communities. But it’s also some of the only outside revenue reaching remote communities and, as the Times states, trophy hunting is a, “practice at the core of conservation efforts in southern Africa.”

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As for photo-tourism as an alternative? “In 2013, Zambia curbed trophy hunting and imposed a blanket ban on hunting the big cats, also in an effort to replace trophy hunting with photographic tourism. But that brought little income compared to hunting.”

Photo: Tambako The Jaguar

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