This humanitarian initiative is aimed at consolidating the existing social responsibility initiatives of all the members of PHASA under a single umbrella with a view to providing a fuller understanding and account of the professional hunting industry’s contribution to community development, food security and rural education.
However, members of the association have their own social responsibility programmes and those who operate in provincial parks are required to submit a community development plan in order to win a government-held concession. It is estimated that each member contributes around
R100 000 a year towards humanitarian work.
The total contribution of professional hunting to community upliftment in South Africa has therefore been significantly understated and PHASA’s ability to give a full assessment of the industry’s humanitarian impact had been hampered as a result of the diverse nature of its members’ contributions.
In the wake of increasing criticism levelled at the hunting industry – taking place against a background of a general misunderstanding of what it does and how this benefits both conservation and empowerment – it is no longer feasible to talk about hunters’ humanitarian efforts in terms of Rands and cents alone.
Anecdotal evidence no longer suffices when the hunting industry is asked to substantiate its claims of community engagement. All the schools, roads, clinics and crechés it builds, all the monetary donations it makes, all the jobs and dependants it supports, and all the carcasses it gives for food – all of these have to be measured so that the hunting industry can give the public a proper account of its positive impact on rural development.
The food security that professional hunting provides, particularly in areas where livestock-reared meat is expensive and difficult to access, is key to countering the misperception that professional hunting is a wasteful activity. It is estimated that professional hunting produces around 2.6 million tonnes of meat every year, a significant proportion of which is donated to schools, orphanages, old age homes and villages.
Local consumption hunting enjoys far greater support than its professional counterpart, despite the fact that both sustainably use their quarry. At the end of the day there is little difference between the two: a local hunter will keep the skull to hang above his bar and a professional hunter will take the meat for his own use, sell it or donate it to a charitable cause. It’s a misperception that needs to be addressed or the professional hunting industry risks losing its social licence.
The beneficial spin-offs of hunting are evident to the communities living in wildlife hunting areas but less so to urban society. Unfortunately, public opinion is formed by city folk and unless the industry properly accounts for its humanitarian work it risks not only our profession but the livelihoods of those who depend on hunting.